In relation to the cognitive objectives to be achieved and previously illustrated, the course will be divided into four modules:
1. introduction to social research. The first module will address the basic themes of the social research methodology, analyzing the main epistemological perspectives at the base of the debate on the knowability of social reality. In particular, the currents originated from the positivist matrix and the main methodological approaches deriving from constructivism will be taken into consideration. In this first part of the program the different methodological perspectives will be compared in relation to the modalities of the research, the relationship between the scholar and the object of study, the logic and phases of the research, the detection techniques, the nature and the analysis of the data, as well as the presentation of the results.
2. methods and techniques. Once this introductory part has been exhausted, the second module will examine some of the main research techniques used in the social sciences such as:
- the sample survey.
This detection procedure is characterized by the invariance of the interrogation stimulus to a selected sample of the population. In the program the research design will be analyzed, the operation of the concepts in variables, the construction of the questionnaire and the formulation of the questions, the sampling techniques, the methods of administration, the organization of the survey and the collected data, the different types error;
- techniques for the operation of complex concepts.
In particular, the usability and structure of the following scales will be examined in detail: the Likert scale, the Guttman scalogram, the semantic differential, the sociometric test;
- participant observation.
Among the "qualitative" techniques the participant observation together with the qualitative interview is certainly one of the ways to collect information more used not only in anthropology but also in sociology. During the lessons the main operational concepts are provided to successfully conduct a participant observation and to analyze the qualitative material collected;
- detection through interrogation.
The different types of interviews will be presented, from the structured interview to the free interview, the biographical interview, the focus groups. and how to conduct them.
3. Evaluation of social policies and use of open data. The third module will focus on evaluative research and the applicative aspects of this social research practice applied in the field of social policies. The different evaluation approaches presented in the literature will be presented here and the application paths defined by the various theoretical matrices have been defined. Furthermore, through the analysis of some Open Welfare initiatives and the involvement of privileged actors, the module will analyze the potential inherent in the reuse of open data made available by administrations.
4. Netnography and computational research techniques. The fourth module is articulated in the study of the tools and techniques of research of the computational social sciences. In particular, from the theoretical point of view will be illustrated the basic theories that define the social processes within the digital space. In order to construct a theoretical and evolutionary scenario of computational social research, the first Rheingold studies on virtual communities will be illustrated up to the recent applications. On the other hand, from a methodological point of view, it is intended to define the phases of the empirical research process in digital space without neglecting the ethical and deontological question concerning the management of personal data.
Finally, the various qualitative and quantitative computational analysis techniques will be analyzed, including web survey, focus group online, qualitative online interviews, dissimulated observation, web scraping, social network analysis, automatic text analysis, machine learning techniques.