Research seminar in demography

ldemo2150  2020-2021  Louvain-la-Neuve

Research seminar in demography
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information below is subject to change, in particular that concerning the teaching mode (presential, distance or in a comodal or hybrid format).
5 credits
30.0 h
Main themes
The seminar starts with an in-depth and detailed discussion on the research methods in social sciences:
  • method of synthesis of the literature
  • definition of complex concepts,
  • causality
  • formulating hypotheses
  • building of indicators
Each stage is considered according to three big approach data analysis: the statistical approach for the quantitative data stemming from big inquiries; the qualitative approach for the narrative data stemming from detailed conversations, from focuses group or from the participating observation; the mixed approach.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1. acquire a critical approach to scientific literature ;
2. define research questions based on the scientific literature ;
3. build conceptual frameworks ;
4. study thoroughly a population issue ;

The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
General objective: to relate research questions and hypotheses to data and method.
Around the research themes chosen by the students for their research dissertation, and based on the review of the scientific literature, the seminar allows us to reflect on:
- data: metadata (team, funding, country, timing, objectives, sampling, target population, type of interview, method of data collection, time needed to obtain data), questionnaire and database.
- methods: adequacy with respect to hypotheses, assumptions and limits (selection effects, endogeneity of variables ...)
- empirical model (causal diagram): choice of dependent and independent variables, hypotheses on the relationship between these variables.
The aim of the seminar is indirectly to perfect the students' written and oral scientific communication.
The seminar will focus on the stages of construction of the research methodology:
- Identification of the research question and hypotheses (see LSPED2040 and LDEMO2130)
- Identification of data sources
- Identification of data analysis methods
- Construction of an empirical causal schema
Teaching methods

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

- Introductory presentations provide general methodological principles for developing a demographic research project, illustrated with examples.
- Using introductory presentations and appropriate references, students prepare written work for the next time (i.e. 9 intermediate works + oral presentation).
- At each lecture, professors return to the work presented at the previous lecture by discussing their strengths and weaknesses.
- The final oral presentation sets a deadline for the individual research work and help prepare the methodological chapter that will be the subject of the Master's dissertation.
Evaluation methods

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

Individual assignments (total of 32 out of 100) must be delivered to professors via Moodle at the specified deadlines (ie the Monday preceding midnight), each day of delay reducing by one point the note:
- prepare for a round table a presentation of 3 minutes: question, hypotheses, mention data and methods (not noted)
- write a page presenting the research question, hypotheses, data and methods of the dissertation taking into account the remarks and the discussion of the previous session (4 pts)
- summarize the metadata (4 pts)
- present the advantages and disadvantages of your data by valuing their strengths (4 pts)
- present your dependent variable in relation to the research question (4 pts)
- present your independent variables considered in relation to the hypotheses of the research (4 pts)
- present as an empirical schema the relationships between variables of a good reference article (4 pts)
- present the possible interactions and the strategies to control them (4 pts)
- by taking two articles for examples, present the method chosen to analyze your data (4 pts)
Oral presentations (total of 13 out of 100) will take place in the presence of students and professors. Evaluation criteria :
- Reminder of the research question and hypotheses (2 pts)
- Brief review of the methodological literature (2 pts)
- Empirical causal diagram (2 pts)
- Data Sources Considered (2 pts)
- Data analysis methods envisaged (2 pts)
- Exploratory analyses (2 pts)
- Answers to the questions and criticisms of the audience (1 pt)
The final written report (total of 55 out of 100): methodological chapter of your dissertation according to the same structure as the oral presentation. Evaluation criteria :
- Compliance with the approach taught (10 pts)
- Critical approach to the methodology (15 pts)
- Originality and relevance of arguments (15 pts)
- Clarity (written expression and sequence of ideas) (10 pts)
- General presentation (titles, bibliography, graphics ...) (5 pts)
COVID-19: Whatever the mode of teaching, the mode of evaluation remains the same. 
Other information
Seminar reserved for students registered in the Masters in Population and Development
COVID-19 : 
In yellow code, the auditorium is large enough to accommodate all the students in person. However, if the number of students is larger than expected or if the orange code is applied, then the teaching will switch to a comodal format (half of the cohort in the classroom, the other half in distance learning, alternately from one week to the next).
Regardless of the teaching mode, the evaluation mode remains the same. Classroom exercises are adapted to sanitation rules.
Online resources
Presentations and other resources are available on MoodleUCL.
Guillaume Wunsch (1988) Causal Theory and Causal Modeling
Chaire Quételet (1987) L’explication en sciences sociales - La recherche des causes en démographie.
Federica Russo (2009) Causality and Causal Modelling in the Social Sciences
Creswell J.W. (2003), Research Design : qualitative, quantitative et mixed methods.
Quivy et Van Campenhoudt (2006), Manuel de Recherche en Sciences Sociales.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Master [120] en sciences de la population et du développement