SMSR – Sociological Methodology and Scientific Research


Research project deadline: August 27, 23:59 (to enter the exam it is mandatory to obtain a passing score for the research project, minimum 50%). Please send your research project to

1st reexamination: September 2, 12:00 – 16:00, on Moodle*

2nd reexamination: September 16, 12:00 – 16:00, on Moodle* 

*Students may access the exam at any time, within the indicated time frame. Each student will have 2 hours at their disposal, from the moment they start the exam. The exam is of the grid type, questions with 4 answer options (2 correct, 2 incorrect), and takes into account the mandatory seminar bibliography (sessions 1-13), with two exceptions. The following will not be included:

  • Blume, S., 2006. Anti-vaccination movements and their interpretations.  Social science & medicine, 62(3), pp.628-642.
  • Polletta, F., & Callahan, J. (2019). Deep stories, nostalgia narratives, and fake news: Storytelling in the Trump era. In Politics of meaning/meaning of politics (pp. 55-73). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Course objectives

  • Build students’ research skills in the area of sociological qualitative analysis;
  • Improve students’ ability to distinguish between the scientific research and other types of knowledge making;
  • Strengthen students’ understanding of sociological concepts and research procedures: research questions, sampling, data gathering, data analysis and interpretation of findings;
  • Practice and discuss the specificity of the sociological approach in relation to various themes (vaccination, smoking, homeopathy, modern technology, etc).

Course/Seminar sessions reading list

Archive password: metodologie

Session 1 Introduction

  • How do we sociologically study health and medicine?
  • How does the sociological study of health differ from the medical study of health?
  • How does the sociological study of health differ from journalistic investigations?
  • How do we interact with other disciplines and forms of knowledge?
  • Sociological concepts: social construction of reality, social institutions and norms, meanings, identities, social trajectories, vocabularies of motive, social change, social inequality.
Session 2 The specifics of scientific knowledge. The specifics of sociology as a scientific discipline

 Session 3 The social institution of science. Evidence-based medicine. The pyramid of knowledge in evidence-based medicine

Session 4 The social institution of science. Experiment. The limits of science. Pseudo-science

Session 5 Vocabularies of reasons. Anti-vaccine movements

Session 6 Technology and social institutions. Social media. Digital communities. Surveillance capitalism

Session 7 Technology and social institutions. Business models and misinformation. Customization and polarization

Session 8 The thematic content analysis. The role of the interview in sociological knowledgeThe specifics of sociology as a science. Sociology studies the social order: What are social institutions? Norms, status/roles; Discussions on the research project.

Session 9 Stories and characters in social discourses. Sociological knowledge versus journalistic knowledge

Session 10 Homeopathy. Vocabularies of motives and narratives. Sociological study of homeopathy as a social system

Session 11 Smoking as a social institution. The sociological study of smoking compared with the psychological study and the medical study of smokingUnderstanding smoking as a social action: alternative theories; the study of smokers’ experiences; vocabularies of motives, social norms, the social career of deviance; the role of the interview in sociological knowledge; analysis and reporting of results.

Session 12 Smoking as a social institution. The sociological study of smoking compared with the psychological study and the medical study of smokingHow does the sociological analysis (UNICEF report) differ from the knowledge produced by market research (Dichter) or biographical accounts (Matzal)? Smoking, gender, and age as social institutions.

Session 13 Recap

RESEARCH PROJECT – requirements

Carry out a sociological study on the meanings and social practices of individuals in the contemporary society. The topic of your study must be related to the medicine and health area or technology field.
  • Research project – template
  • The project may be done only individually;
  • The actual length of the project will be 10 pages, along with another 20-30 pages with analyzed data (transcripts of interviews, comments/online texts analyzed);
  • You will obtain a description of the studied discourses involved in the chosen topic.

Methods that can be used in the study:

1) Thematic content analysis (minimum 50 texts/comments analyzed)

  • The analyzed online comments must be included in the Project Annex, in text format;
  • Please state the number of comments/texts analyzed and specify the author, source and date of posting.

2) Sociological survey based on a semi-structured or unstructured interview (minimum 4 interviews)

  • The minimum duration of each interview is 20 minutes;
  • Interviews will also be delivered in audio format. The delivery in audio format (link to files) is mandatory;
  • The interviews will be transcribed for the most part (relevant parts). They may not be fully transcribed, but interesting aspects should be transcribed and included in the Project Annex.

A review of specialized sociological literature (“literature review” on the sociological studies on the given topic – sociology of disease and health); Optional: Discuss the scientific consensus on the topic discussed, if relevant (if there are debates against the scientific consensus); cite the systematic syntheses or meta-analyzes identified;

Enter into dialogue with other sociologists/anthropologists who have written on similar topics; identify sociological concepts and use them in interpreting interviews; cite the works used;

An emphasis on the sociological specifics of analysis; Diversity of speeches: how do respondents’ speeches differ? How do people’s discourses differ according to their roles and experiences? (e.g. speeches of patients, mothers, doctors, family members, teachers, coaches, etc.);

The social organization of the studied phenomenon: what are the methods by which people coordinate in this regard? (e.g. doctor-patient coordination). What are the obstacles in organization and interaction (long distances, high costs, unsynchronized calendars, divergent information, divergent beliefs)? What organizations are involved? What resources are needed? How does the information flow? How do money flow?



The delivery of the final version of the paper by e-mail until January 20, 2021, 23:59. Papers submitted later are downgraded with 0.5p/day (out of 10p).

Name the research report file FirstName-LastName-SMSR.docx (e.g. Dana-Popescu-SMSR.docx)



Students from previous years that have not passed the exam will obtain the grade according to the criteria of 2020/2021.

In order to participate in the examination session from January/February 2021, students in sociology year II must have at least 7 attendances at the seminar. For students from previous years there is no need to attend the seminar to enter the exam.

All students will submit the research report according to the requirements of the current year. Reports made in accordance with the requirements of previous years are not accepted.


Scores and requirements

  • At least 7 seminar attendances required to participate in the exam in the January/February 2021 session;
  • Handing over the research report on the set date and obtaining a passing score.
Activity Points Observations
Grid exam 4p (maximum) In order to pass it is necessary to obtain at least 50% of the grid exam score.
Seminar activity 3p (maximum) 1p – attendance at the seminar (10 attendances = 1p);1p – active participation in the seminar (10 active participations = 1p);1p – sending the research report in stages*
Research report 2p (maximum) To promote it is necessary to get at least 50% of the total score for the research report (1p out of 2p for the report). A minimum of 4 personal interviews or 50 analyzed texts/comments are required to promote this stage.
Exam simulation 1p (maximum) The simulation exam will take place in December. Those who obtain at least 50% of the simulation mark will obtain, proportionally, a score between 0.5 and 1p.
Extra points 1p (maximum)
Total 11p (maximum)

*The intermediate stages of the project:

Steps Deadline Points
Theme, title and research question 9.11.2020, by 8 pm 0.25
Concepts and literature review 23.11.2020, by 8 pm 0.25
Research methodology description 7.12.2020, by 8 pm 0.25
The partial interpretation of data/results 10.01.2021, by 8 pm 0.25

The exact date and time for uploading documents to the Microsoft Teams platform will be discussed with each group. During the seminars, general/collective feedback will be provided based on the submitted documents. Individual feedback will be sent on request only for the project in draft version, reached the fourth stage (submitted at the end of December 2020).

The score for each stage will be obtained only if the material is uploaded on time and meets the expected requirements.

The documents related to the intermediate requirements will receive the name: FirstName-LastName-SMSR-Step-1.doc; FirstName-LastName-SMSR-Step-2.doc, etc. (for example: Dana-Popescu-SMSR-Step-1.doc)


Details on the reexamination session

For second year students, the reexamination will be held in September 2021. The details of the exam will be updated at the top of the page one month in advance. At the first reexamination the initial grading is applied (4p exam, 2p report, 3p seminar activity, 1p simulation, 1p extra);

To promote in the next session (Sept. 2021) it is necessary to achieve both conditions:

  • at least grade 2p out of 4p (50%) at the grid exam;
  • at least grade 1p out of 2p (50%) for the project;
  • the scores obtained during the semester (seminar activity, simulation, extra points) will be added to the scores accumulated only in this session.

For third year students, the reexamination will be organized in January and May 2022. The details of the exam will be updated at the top of the page one month in advance. The final grade includes: the scores accumulated for the project and the grid exam – maximum 10p.

To promote in the following sessions (January, May 2022) it is necessary to achieve both conditions:

  • at least 2.5p out of 5p (50%) at the grid exam;
  • at least 2.5p out of 5p (50%) for the project – made according to the requirements of the current year.

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