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URP 801 – Research Design


Scholarly research in urban and regional planning comes in many forms, including qualitative, quantitative, causal, interpretative, deductive, inductive, positive, and normative. For all the differences in these approaches to research, they share a common underpinning: they all involve making claims and offering evidence to support those claims. Scholarly research brings to public discourse something that is often sorely lacking in other contexts: a logical linkage of claims and evidence.

Research design is the process of developing answers to two questions about one’s research:

Why should I believe you?
Why should I care?

Answers to these tough questions rest on the construction of useful and researchable claims together with the empirical (qualitative or quantitative) or theoretical evidence that can support or contradict them. It is a more fundamental activity than applied research methods, such as fitting specific statistical tests to the question at hand, or using appropriate informant-interview techniques. In our field, research design involves a process of theory building, identification of knowledge gaps, developing researchable questions, forming arguments, developing and evaluating evidence, and interpreting that evidence for theory and policy.

This course is designed for first-year Ph.D. students in Urban and Regional Planning but is open (with instructor permission) for Ph.D. students in other fields as well as MURP students interested in research.


Class instruction mode: Online

Wed 8:30-11:30am


Jonathan Levine


Course Brief

Plan Your Future
Housing, Community, and Economic Development
Land Use and Environmental Planning
Physical Planning and Design
Transportation Planning
Global and Comparative Planning