Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment

Research Methodology: From topic to proposal

Date: 23 September 2019 - 18 November 2019
Location: Wageningen University

“The project proposal appeared so clear but now I do not know where to start.”
“I do not know what my research could add to clarify this issue. It is so obvious what the outcome is going to be.”
“Really, everything in my project is so important and interesting. I guess I need some help to learn how to focus.”

Do you recognize any of the above concerns? Then this course is for you! Also, when you have little idea about what aspects of methodology could be important to your project, then this course is of interest for you too!

Aim of this course:

The aim of this course is to offer insight into the process of (getting started with) research and the methodological pitfalls you may encounter between formulating a research problem and writing a scientific paper. This course addresses research design and methodological issues for quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods strategies.

In this course, organised by WASS and SENSE, we go through the steps from turning a socially relevant interest into a scientifically sound research problem, writing a research proposal and composing a research report. Assignments require you to work on your own project. By the end of this course you will have developed a (skeleton) research or a paper proposal, depending on your entrance level and the complexity of the PhD proposal..

Course FrequencyYearly
Intended credits4.0 ECTS
Course feesWASS and WIMEK/SENSE PhDs with TSP:   € 325
Other PhDs, postdocs and academic staff:   € 650
Participants from the private sector:   € 1000
Course organisationWageningen School of Social Sciences
More informationCourse planning
Course outlineDownload (pdf)



  • Session 1 - From topic to research question:
    An introduction to the course and the other participants; formulating a research question; from topic to research question; concepts and variables; constructing hypotheses.
  • Session 2 - Study designs:
    Designs based on the number of contacts, designs based on the reference period, other commonly used study designs.
  • Session 3 - Data collection methods:
    Primary and secondary sources, observations, interviews, questionnaires, validity and reliability of research instruments, ethical issues in data collection.
  • Session 4 - Sampling:
    Principles of sampling, random and non-random sampling strategies, case selection.
  • Session 5 - Final meeting:
    Simulation of research assessment meeting in which two or three research proposals are discussed. The meeting will close with other issues raised by course participants, and further details on the final assignment (your proposal). 

Former occurrences of this course

  • 12 March - 7 May 2019
  • 17 September - 19 November 2018
  • 13 March - 8 May 2018
  • 18 September, 2, 16 and 30 October, 13 November 2017
  • 23 March - 18 May 2017
  • 27 September - 28 November 2016
  • 17 March - 19 May 2016
  • 3 March - 28 April 2015
  • 21 October - 16 December 2014
  • 18 March - 13 May 2014
  • 8 January - 5 March 2013
  • 25 October - 20 December 2011
  • 23 February - 20 April 2011
  • 26 October - 14 December 2010

Search course

Follow this link to search for interesting courses!