Eric Green, Ph.D., Duke University
- Kathleen Perry
- Christina Schmidt
This course will introduce you to research designs and methods in global health. Global health is a multi-disciplinary field, so we will consider approaches common to the behavioral and social sciences, public health, and medicine.
Our primary interest will be the study of causal inference. In global health, we are often interested in knowing what treatments, programs, interventions, and policies “work” and why. To answer questions of impact, we often turn to randomized controlled trials, a mainstay of medical research. As such, we will spend time exploring the rationale, process, and limitations of field experiments.
Randomization is not always possible or advisable, however, and researchers must build a causal argument using non-experimental methods. We will review several approaches, consider relevant threats to causal inference, and discuss how to improve non-experimental research designs.
As we build up to this discussion, we will cover research basics, such as asking evidence-based research questions, searching the literature, developing a theory of change, identifying indicators and collecting data, selecting research participants, and testing hypotheses. In the latter part of the course, we will turn to more specialized topics in global health research, such as writing research proposals and manuscripts, economic analyses, and making an impact.
We have two broad goals this semester:
- to make you a better consumer of research, and
- to prepare you to contribute to research teams at Duke and beyond.
The course is divided into seven modules:
- Introduction to global health research
- Critical appraisal
- Data collection and measurement
- Sampling and power
- Experimental and quasi-experimental research designs
- Observational and qualitative research designs
- Producing research and making an impact
By the end of the semester, you should be able to:
- Ask a good research question
- Effectively search the literature and make use of systematic reviews and meta-analyses
- Critically appraise scientific work
- Understand the fundamental challenge of causal inference
- Develop a theory of change
- Indentify indicators to measure throughout the causal chain
- Select the best method of data collection given study objectives and resources
- Evaluate the reliability and validity of study instruments
- Devise a sampling strategy to meet study objectives and resources
- Design a high-powered study
- Articulate the benefits and limitations of random assignment
- Explain the logic and limitations of different quasi-experimental and observational designs that can be used when randomization is not possible or ethical
- Write a study protocol
- Explain how an economic analysis can put “treatment effects” in context
- Make a plan to promote the use of research in policymaking
This course will incorporate pedagogical concepts and strategies from “flipped” classrooms. Students must prepare for class sessions by reading, watching videos, completing readiness assessments, and the occassional short assignment. Click on the session links on the schedule to understand the expectations for each session. Assignments and session info for each module will be posted at the start of the previous module (e.g., M3 posted at the start of M2, etc).
Class sessions may begin with a brief lecture designed to reinforce or extend pre-class learning, but the aim is to spend most of the in-class time on application activities. The balance of in-class lecture vs. application activity may shift throughtout the semester.
The main course text is “Global Health Research: Designs and Methods”. You can access it for free through the “Book” link in the menu bar. This on-line book includes videos that are required viewing.
You’ll also be reading journal articles that will be available through Sakai or the Duke Library. You do not need to pay for any articles. If you are struggling to access a resource, consult with a librarian or ask for help on Piazza.
The only required purchase for this course is a $14 subscription to Poll Everywhere. Please sign up here.
A reasonable rule of thumb is somewhere between 2:1 and 3:1 out-of-class to in-class hours. We’ll meet in class 150 minutes each week, so expect somewhere between 5 to 7.5 hours outside of class. If you find yourself putting in more hours than the upper end of this estimate, come see me. It’s quite possible that you are not using your time as efficiently as you could.
Your final grade will be a weighted average of several components: pre-class preparation, application activities, homework, a midterm exam, and a final exam.
Pre-class preparation: Short online readiness assessments (≤10 questions) that will open 48 hours before class and close 1 hour before class.
In-class application activities: Short activities designed to be completed in class in groups of 2-6. Some activities will be graded, others will be pass/fail.
Homework: Assignments generally due one week after the end of the module.
Exams: There will be two cumulative exams. Format to be announced.
|In-class application activities||20%|
Ranges for letter grades will be set at the end of the semester, and grades may be curved. Cumulative scores of at least 90, 80, and 70 will be guaranteed at least an A-, B-, and C-, respectively.
Getting help is easy. Try the following, in order of priority:
- Ask a question in class.
- Post a question to Piazza. This is a great platform that turns your questions and answers into public goods. We’ll strive to answer every question within hours (often minutes). You can post anonymously to your peers if desired, so there really are no “dumb” questions.
- If you need additional help after trying #1 and #2, attend office hours or set up individual or small-group meetings.
Please limit your emails to personal matters that are not appropriate for class or Piazza. “I don’t understand power calculations” is not a personal matter. Emails like this will probably go unanswered, whereas Piazza messages will be rewarded with snappy replies since they benefit everyone.
Where do I find…?
You will find everything you need for this course on this website.
- Schedule: your gateway to everything we will do.
- Book: primary text and videos
- Piazza: announcements, info on office hours, Q/A, supplemental materials (under resources)
- Sometimes the schedule lists journal articles but does not provide a link. This is my way of making sure you know how to go out into the world and find resources.
- Grades will be posted on Sakai.
Is X Required?
Please note the following:
- There will be no make-ups for exams or pre-class readiness assessments.
- The final exam is scheduled for Tuesday, May 2 from 7-10pm ET. You must take the final exam to pass the class. There will be no make-ups, so it is your responsibility to put this time on your calendar and ensure that you are available. This exam will be cumulative and cover all readings, videos, activities, and homework.
- If you miss the midterm exam, the final exam will count for 50% of your grade.
- Pre-class readiness assessments are due 1 hour before the start of class. Late submissions will not be accepted, and there will be no make-ups for any reason. Your 2 lowest scores will be dropped.
- If you miss an in-class application activity, you will have 36 hours to contact the TAs and submit your completed work. After 36 hours, you will receive a score of 0 unless you have permission to follow a different schedule. See here for more details about Duke’s policies regarding class attendance and missed work.
- Homework will be due at 9am on the date indicated on the schedule. Late submissions will penalized 5 percentage points. For every 24 hours late after the missed deadline, an additional 5 percentage points will be deducted from the score. Homework should be completed individually and not discussed with anyone else.
- Students should abide by the Duke Community Standard at all times. If a questionable circumstance arises, do not hesitate to seek my guidance (before is always better than after).
- Any student with a documented disability needing academic adjustments or accommodations should speak with me during the first two weeks of class. All discussions will remain confidential. Students with disabilities will also need to contact the Student Disability Access Office.
Looking for previous semesters? See here.