By Valeria Sargsyan
Recognizing the need and demand in Armenia for high quality social science research applying quantitative methodology, CRRC-Armenia organized its first ever Summer School on Research Design and Methodology on July 21-25, in Tsaghkadzor. Timed to the Yerevan State University (YSU) 95-th anniversary, the Summer School covered variety of topics including survey design, sampling, questionnaire development, fieldwork implementation, and data analysis. Aimed at developing participants’ theoretical knowledge and practical skills on different stages of quantitative cycle from hypothesis development to quantitative analysis, it was purposely tailored for YSU post-graduate students, junior researchers and faculty specializing in quantitative research methodology.
The Summer School was warmly hosted by the YSU recreation site stretched on the foot of Tsaghkunyants mount and surrounded by ancient mountains and green hills that make one admire and just enjoy the view. The event brought together a group of interested social science researchers and professionals, so that they could not only obtain knowledge and skills, but also have an opportunity to gain new research connections, to have interesting conversations and discussions, which would ultimately bring about higher quality research. The participants enjoyed the excellent residential, dining, academic, and social facilities of the hotel. All aspects of the program provided opportunity for knowledge development and research experience through peer support, creative problem-solving and practice.
CRRC-Armenia CEO Heghine Manasyan mentioned in her opening speech that it was both an honor and a privilege to stand before the Summer School participants that day and welcomed them to that challenging initiative she hoped would be successful and continuous. “Probably, you are sitting there feeling different emotions and asking yourself whether you did the right choice and whether this worth the sacrifices you have made to get there. Don’t doubt that, it is. In fact, I can assure each and every one of you that you passed through the strong selection process and you are here because you deserve to be and because you can bring something fresh and innovating to the Armenian research and academic community”, she said. Later on, CRRC-Armenia Research Director Artak Ayunts, in his turn, warmly greeted the participants and continued with the lecture on Introduction to the Research Design, enriched and elaborated further by Dr. Manasyan on Developing Research Methodology.
The week-long summer school integrated separate sessions focusing on the theoretical, empirical and case-based solutions. During the succeeding week, the participants were lectured by the group of experienced and acknowledged academicians and professionals, such as Dr. Artur Mkrtchyan, YSU Sociology Faculty Dean, who talked about Hypothesis Development, Gayane Ghukasyan, and Dr. Maria Zasvavskaya – both YSU professors (Sampling Design/Database Quality Control). Later on, independent expert Arpine Porsughyan presented main theoretical and practical propositions of survey questionnaire design, while а sociology coryphaeus, director of the “Sociometer” sociological center Aharon Adibekyan concentrated on organizational moments of survey fieldwork. Finally, last day was wholly dedicated to data analysis with SPSS program, including cluster and factor analysis brilliantly elaborated by CRRC-Armenia’s devoted friend and bright professional Dr. Vahe Mosvisyan.
Based on the feedback of attendees, the whole course was valuable and informative on its every stage. The participants admitted that “…this summer school provided a week to remember for everyone” (Gayane), and “… the program was so intense we were not able to walk around, and we didn't know whether to complain or to be glad about that” (Arpine); however, they were very excited and “… looking forward to implement the invaluable knowledge and skills received during the summer school” (Sona).
All in all, this Summer School tried to spread on approaches that better reflect the research practice, using a combination of theory and case study analysis, to clarify issues regarding applied research, and to explore strengths and limitations of current research methods, making sure that the outcomes are relevant in and for practice. With hope for continuation, it combined an interest in describing and explaining and practicing using knowledge as a means, working with practitioners and researchers to expand and promote traditional and new ways of social science research.