Five Summer Classes to Up Your Research Game
Every year I read the university catalogues for summer coursework in research methods and share a few recommendations with colleagues and clients. If you are looking for more than just the information and inspiration you get from conferences, look to the substance and depth you can get from a classroom. It’s easier than you might think, because many schools offer one-day, two-day, or week-long courses designed specifically for business professionals.
In years past I’ve focused on cutting edge content, such as doing statistics with R, big data analytics, or network analysis. This year I’m focused on back-to-basics. What kinds of courses would be most valuable for business researchers who are just getting started, or who find themselves in new territory that they need to master quickly?
Here are five classes worth looking at. Three are offered by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which offers a week-long series (June 20-24) of two-day and one-day courses on various topics of data science. The other two are offered by the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Statistics and Data Sciences as part of their week-long Summer Statistics Institute (May 23-26).
- Introduction to Information Visualization. This course will teach you how to build charts, maps, and graphs with freely available software, with a focus on good design for publication and reporting. One component of the class focuses on cleaning and structuring data, a crucial first step if you want your visualizations to succeed.
- Creating Surveys in Qualtrics. We generally recommend against using Qualtrics because of how it handles screening and incomplete data. But if you are going to use it for internal use or otherwise, a course like this will to help you master programming complexities when using a robust survey tool.
- Writing Questions for Surveys. If there is one area in which survey researchers always need to hone their skills, it is writing survey questions. Here is one place to start. Then we suggest joining the AAPOR discussion board where the world’s top survey researchers endlessly debate the best ways to word their questions.
- Common Mistakes in Using Statistics: Spotting Them and Avoiding Them. This course is deeper than it sounds because it is not just about misleading statistics and percentages. It is about fundamental errors in statistical inference that are common even among professionals, such as the “file drawer problem,” the “curse of multiplicity”, data drudging, and ignoring model assumptions.
- Questionnaire Design and Survey Analysis. This course goes beyond the need for good questions to consider the bigger need for an effective questionnaire. It covers topics such as adjusting for survey mode, multi-item measurement, sampling, and pre-testing before going into field.
Of course, if “back-to-school” just doesn’t excite you as much as it does me (I was the kid who wouldn’t leave school until the 31st grade) give Versta Research a call. We can help you with your research needs in all areas of survey design, analysis, and reporting.