Quantitative Research Methods for Policy Analysis and Decision Making

This course introduces Policy Analysis techniques using Quantitative Research Methods to support effective decision making. The participant can expect to gain a range of practical research skills to assist policy making, including how to set up answerable research questions, design research plans, sampling design, collect quantifiable information, analyse and interpret quantitative information, and effectively report or communicate findings. Further, the main focus of this course is survey-based research, applied statistics and the use of computer software with special reference to actual case studies from public policy in Brunei Darussalam.

Suitable for anyone interested in degree and postgraduate level research, Masters and PhD students, and officers in the government or private sector who wish to acquire practical skills in quantitative research methods and practice to aid decision-making.  Advanced quantitative skills are not required but a hands-on knowledge of basic computer applications, e.g. Microsoft Office, is assumed. Upon completion of the course, participants will receive a CSPS certificate of accomplishment and will be competent to:

  • Understand the strengths and limitations of research methods in policy analysis;
  • Able to design quantitative research techniques to investigate appropriate issues in public policy;
  • Make decisions between different types of research design;
  • Design a range of statistically acceptable sampling methods and make sound decisions about which type of sampling to apply for a research study;
  • Formulate operational indicators for measurement of abstract policy concepts and construct good questionnaires to collect quantifiable information;
  • Understand key statistical concepts and methodologies used in data analysis;
  • Be able to gain practical knowledge of widely used computer software (Excel and SPSS) in data management and analysis;
  • Appreciate the use of GIS for data visualisation to aid policy decisions; and
  • Understand the techniques in report writing for policy making

Module 1. Overview of Research Methods & Policy Analysis

An overview of the rationale and types of policy research and introduction to basic steps to conduct research, from conceptualisation and refinement of policy issues, designing researchable policy research questions, research design, observational techniques and data analysis.

Module 2. Practical Survey Research Techniques for Data Collection

Topics include the main steps in designing questionnaires and conducting surveys. Using case studies method, guidance will be given on formulating operational definitions and construction of effective indicators for empirical measurements of abstract policy concepts and to consider issues of reliability and validity in use of social indicators.

Module 3. Sampling Design for Surveys

A special focus on sampling design and methods used to conduct surveys. Topics include logic of sampling, sampling statistics, qualitative and quantitative sampling design, random and non-random sampling methods and case studies applications.

Module 4. Quantitative Analysis For Policymaking

This module provides an introduction to basic quantitative and statistical methods for policy analysis. Topics include descriptive statistics, statistical inference and linear regression. Participants are expected to develop a theoretical understanding of fundamental quantitative techniques and improve their use of Microsoft Excel tools for research and analysis.

Module 5. Using Computer Software for Data Analysis

Emphasis of this module is on the application of the quantitative and statistical techniques covered in Module 4, using Excel and SPSS, to approach public policy issues and draw appropriate policy conclusions. Participants are expected to prepare a survey data file ready for analysis and to apply statistical techniques previously learned through the use of computer software using real-life data sets.

Module 6. Using GIS for Data Visualisation

This is an introduction to GIS and its applications. An industry-standard GIS platform will be introduced to visualise geographic data, create maps and to query a GIS database.

Module 7. Report Writing

This module highlights the different styles of report writing and provides guidelines for acquiring good report writing skills for policy making. Tips for effective presentation skills are also covered.