Craft of Research Series


Each spring, I hold a series of weekly talks about the research process. The talks are intended for students who are working on their year-end projects, including their master’s dissertations.

[See the playlist of 2023 talks on YouTube here.]

There is no required reading or preparation for these talks, but participants are encouraged to consult Wayne Booth et al.’s The Craft of Research as a kind of “textbook” for the series. If you click on the title of a talk, you will be led to a stand-alone page with some notes and resources from last year for that session, as well as a video of the talk.

This year, the talks will be held live on campus on Thursdays from 16:15 to 17:45 in February, March, and April. (NOTE: the seventh session will be held on a Wednesday.) Click the registration link in the descriptions below for location details.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me, Thomas Basbøll, by email.

How to Write a Research Project (Feb 2). Scholarship is a conversation among knowledgeable people, drawing on a variety of sources. Writing a research project teaches you how to participate in that conversation, and in this talk you will learn how to identify your reader and develop an effective rhetorical posture in your prose, while grounding it solidly in your sources.

How to Review the Literature (Feb 9).The scholarly literature frames your research questions and informs your thinking. When you do a literature review you are developing your understanding of the conversation that is going on among experts on your topic. This talk will help you organize your search and the results it discovers.

How to Write the Theory Section (Feb 16). Your theory section lets you shape the reader’s expectations of your object. This talk will explore some ways to build a conceptual framework or model to that end.

How to Write the Methods Section (Feb 23). In your methods section you are giving your readers insight into what you have done to collect your data so that they will trust your results. In this talk we’ll discuss how best to do that.

How to Write the Analysis (Mar 2). The analysis tells your reader what your data shows. It’s important here to distinguish between your observations and the conclusions you draw from them. This talk will help you do so.

How to Structure a Research Paper (Mar 9). A research paper should present a logical line of argument in a series of coherent paragraphs, organized into sections. For each section, you want to have a good sense of what you are trying to say and what you are basing it on. This talk will go through a standard outline that you can adapt to your own ends.

How to Write the Background Section (Wednesday, Mar 15). While you will generally assume that your reader is a knowledgeable peer working in your own discipline, there are often things the reader will not know about the organization, country, industry, product or practice you are studying. The background section provides this information in a helpful and documented fashion.

How to Write the Discussion (Mar 23). Your empirical conclusions will often have either theoretical or normative implications. In your discussion section, you make these consequences for theory or practice explicit.

How to Finish a Research Project or Thesis (Mar 30). As your project nears completion you want to make sure that the written product present your best arguments in the clearest light. Note: this talk is intended to help you through the last few weeks of the process, but it should not be the first time you think seriously about planning and execution. [Register here]

How to Write Philosophy of Science. (SPECIAL SESSION! Wednesday, April 12) In this talk we’ll go through some general strategies with which you can approach your “ontology” and “epistemology”, decide whether you’re a “positivist” or a “pragmatist”, sort your “phenomenology” from your “hermeneutics”, and even come to terms with the fundamental nature of “truth” and “reality”. [Register here]

How to Write the Introduction and Conclusion (April 13). A good research paper needs to have a strong introduction and conclusion to open and close your presentation. [Register here]

How to Format and Reference Properly (Apr 20). Before submitting you’ll want to make sure that your written work meets the formal requirements of good academic writing. Note: this talk is intended to help you at the very end of the process, but it should not be the first time you think seriously about such things. [Register here]