Combining different disciplines, Leiden University researchers work together to formulate innovative solutions to societal problems. Below is an example from the field of health and wellbeing.

Overview Research in the spotlight

From Data to insight

The importance of sound research methods

Social science research helps us understand human behaviour and social structures. These are determined by various factors, which makes the research complex and increases the likelihood of drawing the wrong conclusions. The choice of research method and analysis is therefore extremely important. It is also essential to indicate the limitations and assumptions of research when publishing results. This makes it clear what exactly the researchers have and have not studied.

Recent discussions in academia and society on the reliability of social science research highlight the importance of looking at research methods and how to improve them.

Researching research

Leiden University has a centre that studies and evaluates the conduct of scientific research: the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS). The social scientists who work there conduct research into the dynamics of academic research around the world. Their research increases our knowledge of the international academic system and the evaluation of academic research.

The unit of Professor of Methodology and Statistics of Psychological Research Mark de Rooij focuses on improving statistical methodology. His researchers use computer simulations to evaluate which statistical methods are applicable to which types of research. The results enable them to draw up guidelines that help psychologists select the right method for their research.


New insight into society

The focus on methodology delivers powerful insights in various academic disciplines. For instance, political scientists Tom Louwerse and Simon Otjes discovered why one MP is much more active than another by examining the number of motions, amendments and parliamentary questions that MPs tabled.

Careful choice of method also enabled researchers from Leiden in Education and Child Studies to gain insight into the wellbeing of small children in noisy and quieter day care centres. Another example is economic anthropologist Erik Bähre, who chose to use the extended case study in his research into the causes of inequality and violence in South Africa. He wanted to learn about the effect of insurance companies on daily life in South Africa. His research included talking to people, participating in daily life in the townships and analysing websites and documentation.

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Centre for Science and Technology Studies