This seminar is an introduction to research design and proposal writing in anthropology. It is organized around elements of research design that cut across subdisciplines: the logic of scientific inquiry, ethics, conceptualization and measurement, sampling, and elementary analysis of quantitative data. Much of what we learn is the result of discussing participants’ research proposals. The focus on proposals is useful not only because grant writing is an important skill in its own right, but also because an effective proposal involves all elements of research design—from statement of the problem to data analysis.

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • Formulate a feasible research question, and design research to answer it.
  • Discuss the ethical implications of research.
  • Analyze quantitative data with computer-based skills.
  • Critically evaluate your own research and that of other social scientists.
  • Submit a grant proposal for extramural funding of your dissertation research.


Research is a craft, and like any other craft, it takes practice to do it well. Therefore, you will learn by doing in all aspects of the course. Most of our time will be divided between hands-on exercises and discussion of your research proposals. I expect you to have studied the required readings prior to class. Take time to digest the new methods and ideas before you come to class, and be prepared to apply them or to ask about points that remain unclear. Each week, at least two of you will update us on the development of your research plans and solicit feedback from the group. Everyone must come to class prepared to offer constructive criticism and suggestions.


Required reading

Bernard, H. R. 2002. Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and quantitative methods, Third edition. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira.

Drennan, R. D. 1996. Statistics for archaeologists. New York: Plenum Press.

Locke, L. F., W. W. Spirduso, and S. J. Silverman. 2000. Proposals that work: A guide for planning dissertations and grant proposals, 4th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Recommended software

You will be learning about research design, data management, and elementary data analysis with Stata statistical software. Stata is accessible enough for beginners, yet powerful enough for most advanced applications. It is also less expensive than its main competitors.

Stata is available in the departmental computer lab, and you are welcome to do out-of-class exercises there. However, I strongly encourage you to buy your own copy of Stata, especially if you have a laptop computer. We will use Stata frequently in class, and you will get much more out of the exercises if you are able to follow along. You have several purchase options through the campus-wide Stata GradPlan at FSU, beginning with a one-year license to the student version (Small Stata) for $45. My recommendation is that you invest $145 for a perpetual license to the standard version, Intercooled Stata. See the GradPlan website for more information .

Stata has an active user community, and there are excellent resources online for learning to use Stata effectively. A good starting point is UCLA’s Resources to help you learn and use Stata. Check out their Stata Starter Kit, which includes movies and class notes from an introductory course on Stata. Also see the StataCorp homepage for information about NetCourses, Statalist, the Stata Journal, and other useful resources.

I also recommend that you acquire a text editor for data management and for writing commands in Stata. A text editor is different from a word processor. Word processors, such as Microsoft Word, are designed to format and organize documents, whereas text editors work with plain text. Many text editors are available for low or no cost. I use TextPad ($16.50 for a single-user license). For information about other text editors, see some notes on text editors for Stata users.

Another piece of software worth adding to your toolkit is EpiData, a free program for data entry and data documentation. Although EpiData was originally designed for epidemiologic research, it is useful for all sorts of data. And did I mention it’s free?

You may download an Endnote library of the required and recommended readings for the course.


Week 1 (Sept. 2) Introduction

  • Overview of the course
  • Proposal writing and pedagogy
  • Funding sources
  • Introduction to Stata

Required reading

Locke et al., Ch. 1 (p. 3-23), 8-9 (p. 149-180)

Plattner, S. 1992. Anthropology grant proposal handbook. Cultural Anthropology Methods Newsletter 4:6-12.

Yellen, J. E., and M. W. Greene. 1985. Archaeology and the National Science Foundation. American Antiquity 50:332-341.

Silverman, S. 1991. Writing grant proposals for anthropological research. Current Anthropology 32:485-489.

Further reading

Przeworski, Adam and Frank Salomon. The Art of Writing Proposals: Some Candid Suggestions for Applicants to Social Science Research Council Competitions

Hamilton, Lawrence C. 2004. Statistics with Stata, version 8. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Kohler, Ulrich, and Frauke Kreuter. 2005. Data analysis using Stata. College Station, TX: Stata Press.


Week 2 (Sept. 9) The language and logic of science

  • Epistemology and science
  • Concepts, variables, and measurements
  • Validity and reliability
  • Thinking with matrices

Required reading

Bernard, Ch. 1-2 (pp. 1-64)

O'Meara, J. T. 1989. Anthropology as empirical science. American Anthropologist 91:354-369.

Greenfield, P. M. 2000. What psychology can do for anthropology, or why anthropology took postmodernism on the chin. American Anthropologist 102:564-576.

Aunger, R. 2004. Chapter 1 (p. 1-20) "A crisis in confidence," Reflexive ethnographic science. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

Further reading

Lett, J. 1997. Science, reason, and anthropology: The principles of rational inquiry. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.

Thomas, D. H. 1986. Chapter 2 (p. 7-39), "What are anthropological data?" Refiguring anthropology: First principles of probability and statistics. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.

Bernard, H. R., P. J. Pelto, O. Werner, J. Boster, A. K. Romney, A. Johnson, C. R. Ember, and A. Kasakoff. 1986. The construction of primary data in cultural anthropology. Current Anthropology 27:382-395.

McEwen, W. J. 1963. Forms and problems of validation in social anthropology. Current Anthropology 4:155-183.


Week 3 (Sept. 16) Research questions; literature review

  • The research cycle
  • Types of research questions
  • Theory and hypotheses
  • Literature search strategies

Required reading

Bernard, Ch. 3-4 (pp. 65-104)

Locke et al., Ch. 4, (p. 63-74)

Further reading

Hart, C. 1999. Doing a literature review: Releasing the social science research imagination. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Handwerker, W. P. 2001. Chapter 2, "Identify the question," Quick ethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.


Week 4 (Sept 23) Ethics

  • Professional ethical codes
  • Current controversies
  • Human subjects review at FSU

Required reading

Locke et al., Ch. 2 (p. 25-40)

U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. 1979. The Belmont report: Ethical principles and guidelines for the protection of human subjects of research.

Wylie, A. 2003. "On ethics," in Ethical issues in archaeology. Edited by L. J. Zimmerman, K. D. Vitelli, and J. Hollowell-Zimmer, pp. 3-16. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

Pels, P. 2005. ""Where there aren't no ten commandments": Redifining ethics during the Darkness in El Dorado scandal," in Embedding ethics: shifting boundaries of the anthropological profession. Edited by L. Meskell and P. Pels, pp. 69-99. New York: Berg.

Gregor, T. A., and D. R. Gross. 2004. Guilt by association: The culture of accusation and the American Anthropological Association's investigation of Darkness in El Dorado. American Anthropologist 106:687-698.

Nathan, R. 2005. "An anthropologist goes under cover," in Chronicle of Higher Education, pp. B11-B13.

Further reading

Fluehr-Lobban, C. 1998. "Ethics," in Handbook of Methods in Cultural Anthropology. Edited by H. R. Bernard, pp. 173-202. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira.

Vitelli, K. D. Editor. 1996. Archaeological ethics. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.

Meskell, L., and P. Pels. Editors. 2005. Embedding ethics. New York: Berg Publishers.

Turner, T. R. Editor. 2005. Biological anthropology and ethics: from repatriation to genetic identity. Albany: State University of New York Press.


Week 5 (Sept. 30) Experimental thinking and research design

  • Experimental and nonexperimental research
  • Internal validity and causation
  • Threats to validity and ways to manage them

Required reading

Bernard, Ch. 5 (pp. 105-140)

Shadish, W. R., T. D. Cook, and D. T. Campbell. 2002. Ch. 1 (p. 1-32), "Experiments and generalized causal inference," Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for generalized causal inference. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Aunger, R. 2004. Chapter 5 (p. 94-115), "Reflexive realism: A new way of doing ethnography,"Reflexive ethnographic science. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

Dean, J. S., G. J. Gummerman, J. M. Epstein, R. L. Axtell, A. C. Swedlund, M. T. Parker, and S. McCarroll. 2000. "Understanding Anasazi culture change through agent-based modeling," in Dynamics in human and primate societies: Agent-based modeling of social and spatial processes. Edited by T. A. Kohler and G. J. Gummerman, pp. 179-205. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Further reading

Campbell, D. T., and J. C. Stanley. 1966. Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for research. Chicago: Rand McNally College Publishing Company.

Brim, J. A., and D. H. Spain. 1974. Research design in anthropology: Paradigms and pragmatics in the testing of hypotheses. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Johnson, J. C. 1998. "Research design and research strategies," in Handbook of Methods in Cultural Anthropology. Edited by H. R. Bernard, pp. 131-171. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira.


Week 6 (Oct. 7) Sampling and probability

  • The central limit theorem
  • Representativeness and generalizability
  • Sampling strategies

Required reading

Bernard, Ch. 6-7 (p. 141-179)

Drennan, Ch. 16-19 (pp.237-267)

Thomas, D. H. 1986. Chapter 15 (pp. 439-456), "Sampling problems in anthropology" Refiguring anthropology: First principles of probability and statistics. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.

Handwerker, W. P., and D. F. Wozniak. 1997. Sampling strategies for the collection of cultural data: an extension of Boas's answer to Galton's problem. Current Anthropology 38:869-875.

Flannery, K. V. 1976. "Sampling on the regional level," in The Early Mesoamerican village. Edited by K. V. Flannery, pp. 131-136. Orlando, FL: Academic Press.

Benfer, R. A. 1968. The desirability of small samples for anthropological inference. American Anthropologist 70:949-951.

Further reading

Johnson, J. C. 1990. Selecting ethnographic informants. Qualitative research methods, v. 22. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Orton, C. 2000. Sampling in archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cohen, J. 1992. A power primer. Psychological Bulletin 112:155-159.


Week 7 (Oct. 14) Data management

Required reading

Bernard, pp. 516-528, 384-389

King, G. 1995. Replication, replication. PS: Policital Science and Politics XXVIII:444-452.

Juul, S. 2004. "Take good care of your data." Aarhus, Denmark: Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Aarhus.

Lauritsen, J. M., and M. Bruus. 2005. "A short overview of data entry with EpiData." Odense, Denmark.


Week 8 (Oct. 21) Univariate analysis

  • Exploratory data analysis
  • Central tendency and dispersion
  • Standardization and z-scores
  • Logic of hypothesis testing
  • What does a p value mean?

Required reading

Bernard, pp. 528-560

Drennan, Ch. 1-6 (pp. 1-76)

Cohen, J. 1994. The earth is round (p < .05). American Psychologist 49:997-1003.

Further reading

Aldenderfer, M. S. 1998. Quantitative methods in archaeology: A review of recent trends and developments. Journal of Archaeological Research 6:91-120.

Cowgill, G. L. 1977. The trouble with significance tests and what we can do about it. American Antiquity 42:350-368.

Cox, N. J. 2004. Speaking Stata: Graphing distributions. Stata Journal 4:66-88.

Vidmar, S., J. Carlin, K. Hesketh, and T. Cole. 2004. Standardizing anthropometric measures in children and adolescents with new functions for egen. Stata Journal 4:50-55.

Newson, R. 2001. Confidence intervals and p-values for delivery to the end user. Stata Journal 1:1-24.


Week 9 (Oct. 28) Comparing means and proportions

  • t-test and ANOVA
  • Chi-square
  • Parametric and nonparametric methods

Required reading

Bernard, pp. 561-588

Drennan, Ch. 11-13 (pp. 149-202)

Further reading

Thomas, D. H. 1986. Ch. 11-12. Refiguring anthropology: First principles of probability and statistics. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.

Cox, N. J. 2004. Speaking Stata: Graphing categorical and compositional data. Stata Journal 4:190-215.


Week 10 (Nov. 4) Simple linear regression and correlation

Required reading

Bernard, pp. 588-614

Drennan, Ch. 14-15 (pp. 203-234)

Further reading

Cowgill, G. L. 1990. Why Pearson's r is not a good similarity coefficient for comparing collections. American Antiquity 55:512-521.


Week 11 (Nov. 11) No Class (Veterans Day)


Week 12 (Nov. 18) Multiple regression and beyond

Required reading

Bernard, Ch. 21 (pp. 615-659)

Whallon, R. 1987. "Simple statistics," in Quantitative Research in Archaeology. Edited by M. S. Aldenderfer, pp. 135-150. Newbury Park: Sage.

Handwerker, W. P. 2002. The construct validity of cultures: cultural diversity, culture theory, and a method for ethnography. American Anthropologist 104:106-122.

Further reading

Cowgill, G. L. 1968. Archaeological applications of factor, cluster, and proximity analysis. American Antiquity 33:367-375.

Thomas, D. H. 1978. The awful truth about statistics in archaeology. American Antiquity 43:231-244.


Week 13 (Nov. 25) No Class (Thanksgiving)


Week 14 (Dec. 2) Proposal workshop I

Required reading

Locke et al., Ch. 6-7 (p. 119-146), 10 (p. 181-199)

Day, Robert A. 1998. Ch. 29, "How to present a paper orally," How to write and publish a scientific paper. Fifth ed. Phoenix: Oryx Press

Tufte, E. R. 2003. The cognitive style of powerpoint. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press LLC.


Week 15 (Dec. 9) Proposal workshop II

Required reading

Handwerker, W. P., and S. P. Borgatti. 1998. "Reasoning with numbers," in Handbook of Methods in Cultural Anthropology. Edited by H. R. Bernard, pp. 549-587. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira.

Utts, J. 2003. What educated citizens should know about statistics and probability. The American Statistician 57:74-79.

Final proposals due Friday, December 16, 5:00 p.m.




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