Schedule and Readings - Part One (2021)

(May be subject to changes)

This part of the PhD course provides the students with

1)  A better understanding of the scientific foundation of research

2)  A chance to explain their research in the terms that will be used by a typical evaluation committee in the evaluation of their completed work: what is your field, your research question, how is your method argued to provide an answer to your research question etc.

Part ONE runs for three days, 8-10 June 2020, and is taught by Associate Professor Peter Kesting and Associate Professor John Howells.

Schedule – Part ONE

DAY 1: Monday, 7 June 2021

9.00-10.15: Introduction to DAY 1-3

By Peter Kesting and John Howells

Part I.1 – Classical Theories of Science (all Peter Kesting)

Part I.1 focuses on the systematic investigation of some problems of classical theory of science and some answers that have been given in history: What can we know about reality? How can we acquire insights about reality? What are ‘scientific insights’ after all?

10.30–12.00: Introduction to classical theory of science

12.00–13.00: Lunch

13.00–14.30: 'The quest for the true essence of life': Plato’s doctrine of ideas and after

14.45–16.00: 'All ideas are developed from experience': Locke’s empiricism and after

16.15–18.00: 'Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent': Logical empiricism

Day 2: Tuesday, 8 June 2021

9.00–10.00: 'Science must begin with myths, and with the criticism of myths': Critical rationalism

10.45–12.00: 'A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it': Kuhn and the structure of scientific revolutions

12.00-13.00: Lunch

13.00 – 14.30: Reconstruction: What to do?

Part I.2 (John Howells) (Schedule may be subject to change)

15.00-15.15: Introduction - The practical construction of the PhD

15.15-15.45: The research field – what is it?

Students will briefly state their field: What is your intellectual location? Who do you talk to?

15.45-16.00: Coffee

16.00-18.00: Student presentations 1: What is your research question? Why does it matter? (Students present their answers, 5 minutes each, discussion led by John Howells)

DAY 3: Wednesday, 9 June 2021

9.00-10.00: Theory and the literature review

10.00-10.15: Coffee

10.15-11.15: Student presentations 2: How did you select your literature for review? What criteria determined relevance and irrelevance? (Students present their answers, 5 minutes each, discussion led by John Howells)

11.15-12.00: Selection of a method and access to sources.

12.00-13.00: Lunch

13:00-14:30: Student presentations 3: How did you select a method appropriate to your research question? (Students present their answers, 5 minutes each, discussion led by John Howells)

14:30-14:45: Coffee

14:45-15:45: Workshop 1: The discipline of dissertation writing (i.e. habits e.g. allocating fixed writing times, filing systems (& of eliminating unnecessary personal relationships! see e.g. Sternberg)

15:45-16:00: Coffee

16:00-17:00: Student presentations 4: What tactics do you employ to improve your writing skills? (Students present their answers, 5 minutes each, discussion led by John Howells)

17:00-18:00: Workshop 2: Journal Editors and reviewers’ practices; read one of the sources and comment on anything you learnt to the class:

a)    Peterson on how best to submit your manuscript to a journal

b)    AMJ Editors provide tips for publishing qualitative research.

c)    Lehmann on how reviewers SHOULD review manuscripts

d)    A Sociology journal review of how reviewers ACTUALLY review manuscripts.

Readings - Part ONE

I.1/Peter Kesting

Caldwell, B. (1984) Beyond Positivism: Economic Methodology in the 20th Century, London: Allen and Unwin.

Beyond Positivism is a little difficult to read, but part one of that book provides a very focused and profound introduction to 20th century philosophy of science. We will use this part as a condensed overview of logical empiricism, critical realism, and Kuhn. So please use it as starting point for your assignment. In other words: The section on “your” doctrine is mandatory; I recommend reading the other sections of part one of this book as well.

Russell, Bertrand (1946). History of Western Philosophy, any edition.

This book provides a very readable (although not completely neutral) introduction to the core concepts of Plato (first book, section 15), Locke (third book, section 13), and Hume (third book, section 17). The section on Kant (third book, section 20) is rather weak – but we do not go very deep into that anyway. However, this book is NOT mandatory for the course.

Additionally, some original sources of different "modern" doctrines:

On logical empiricism:
Schlick, M. (1929) The Scientific Conception of the World, any edition.

On critical realism:
Popper, Karl R. (1934) The Logic of Scientific Discovery, any edition.

Popper, Karl R. (1984): In a Search of a Better World, any edition

On Kuhn and the sociology of science:
Kuhn, T.S. (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, any edition that contains the Postscript 1969.

I will give you recommendations for additional readings after you have been assigned to a topic.

If you can’t get enough:
Schumpeter, Joseph A. (1945) History of Economic Analysis, any edition, part I.

In my opinion, Schumpeter’s History is one of the greatest books that has ever been written on philosophy of science from an economics perspective. Very difficult to read.

Friedman, M. (1953) 'The Methodology of positive Economics' in Friedman, M., Essays in Positive Economics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 3-43 (or any reprint).
A classic on economic methodology. Very influential, very present today – and still very controversial.


I.2/John Howells: I recommend that you read one of the following four books below. They are all practical approaches to research and emphasize how to manage the process of "doing" research. That includes potential problems such as supervisor relations, writing to excess and getting lost in the literature. If I had to recommend one it is Booth, Colomb and Williams as I find it more and more often on the book shelves of colleagues and used in courses such as this. It is not explicitly directed at the doctorate but it promotes a structured approach to defining and solving problems - and that is what a doctorate is.

Booth, W.C., Colomb, G.C., Williams, J.M. (1995). 2nd edition, The Craft of Research. Chicago, Ill.: The University of Chicago Press.

Easterby-Smith, M., Thorpe, R., and Lowe, A. Management Research - An Introduction, London, Sage.

Phillips, E.M. and Pugh, D.S. (1994) 2nd edition, How to get a PhD: a handbook for students and their supervisors. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Sternberg, R. (1981) How to Complete and Survive a Doctoral Dissertation, New York, St Martin's Press.