This course examines how knowledge and research are generated in the field of global health. The course begins by considering major issues in epistemology and the philosophy of science concerning what we can know about the world, including a discussion of discipline-based and interdisciplinary approaches. In subsequent weeks, the course explores basic principles of research theory, with attention to the advantages and disadvantages of research designs such as aggregate analysis, small n comparison, and case studies. In these areas, both quantitative and qualitative approaches are covered. Issues include: how to apply theories, how to select cases, how to improve measurement, how to read and critically evaluate research papers, and how to handle problems of validity in causal inference. The course has a required weekly writing assignment of 750 words.
The course seeks to help students understand the strengths and weaknesses of different research methods and to assist in designing research studies and interpreting and using published research papers. The course emphasizes the development of a critical assessment of published papers in global health and also uses examples from political science.
The course includes a discussion of how to ask a good research question and how to write an effective research proposal. The course assists doctoral and MS students in Global Health and Population with the design and writing of their thesis proposals and research papers as well as DrPH students with the design and writing of applied research proposals. Professor Reich has taught this intensive, small-group seminar since 2016, based on a group tutorial that he organized for several years before that.