Research Methods for Agriculture & Rural Project
Course Summary:

Decisionmakers need information that is relevant, timely, accurate, and usable. In rural development, a great deal of the information that is
generated is, in various combinations, irrelevant, late, wrong, or unusable anyway. It is also often costly to obtain, process, analyze, and digest. 

Although many professional social scientists have given thought to improving information gathering, it remains a remarkably inefficient activity. Criteria of cost-effectiveness have not often been applied, and manifest inefficiency is sometimes met by demanding not better information, or less, but simply more

Course Objectives:

  • Describe the key components of scientific research, including the formulation of research questions, development of testable hypotheses and predictions, gathering and evaluating evidence and deriving and presenting conclusions.
  • Define scientific inference and explain the use of inductive and deductive reasoning and the limitations of both.
  • Differentiate between quantitative and qualitative observations and explain the concepts of reliability, accuracy and precision as they relate to measurement. 
  • Understand the consequences of variability and error with specific reference to Type I and Type II errors.
  • Understand the principles underlying the design and implementation of experiments, including the function and use of controls, replication and randomization.
  • Understand the basis of observer bias and the management of bias.
  • Understand the key differences between field and laboratory experiments.
  • Construct valid arguments and use evidence correctly and effectively to support their conclusions.
  • Understand and apply appropriate methods of data presentation.
  • Understand how scientific findings are formally communicated including the peer-review process and the key components of scientific papers and publications.
  • Effectively and systematically access information from the scientific literature.
  • Critically evaluate scientific communications, including publications and presentations.
  • Understand how research is conducted in academic, government and industrial settings, including research funding and accountability.
  • Discuss ethical issues in agricultural research including research integrity, animal welfare, privacy and human rights.

Course Outline

  • Comprehend the complex nature of the research process and research methods.
  • Have critical understanding and application of the basic aspects of the research process in order to plan and execute a research project.
  • To effectively use the library and its resources in gathering information related to the student's research project, and to understand the principles and types of plagiarism, and apply strategies to avoid plagiarism.
  • Comprehend, critically evaluate and effectively apply the principles of qualitative research methods used to execute and validate qualitative research.
  • Comprehend and effectively follow the procedure of sampling, and data collection with questionnaires, and to understand and be able to develop a survey to capture data to answer research questions.
  • To effectively interpret the software outputs of structural equation modelling.
  • To effectively interpret satistical analyses related to multiple regression analysis, EFA, ANOVA and MANOVA.
  • To be able to present, review and publish scientific articles.
  • Prepare for and present a conference paper/poster at a national/international conference.