Before delving into the main topic, Prof. Nukpezah took time to take participants through the basics such as the roles of researchers in Social Science Research (SSR). He noted that researchers involved in Social Science theorise about society through observation and offering explanations for what they see; hypothesize about possible societal relationships; measure social phenomena and test hypotheses about these relationships. Importantly, he noted that Social Scientists exchange ideas with others by engaging in discussions on the merits or otherwise of explanations. He also explained key issues associated with Social Science Research; among these include the perspectives of facts and values in SSR, noting that SSR ‘‘does not deal with questions of value’’ instead, ‘‘it deals with empirical questions, questions of fact’’ hence cannot affect value-based opinions but rather informs fact-based opinions.
He also highlighted the ideas of moral philosophy vs. the social science methodology; the two kinds of scientific (what and why) questions and the goals of SSR, the first of which is to define (concepts to be measured – conceptualization, and determine how to measure the concept accurately - operationalization) and measure concepts (select variables that measure the concept precisely). The other objective of SSR is to propose and test explanations for social phenomena to answer “Why?” questions.
In responding to a question on boosting confidence in research results (measurements) recognising that no two communities are perfectly homogenous, Prof. Nukpezah noted that ‘’combine the arts with the science to produce an engineering approach – do a more mixed method……by combining the different approaches you produce an engineering approach which gives a deeper insight into the study beyond what mere scientific approach may offer''.
The lecture was very interactive and informative as the participants had the chance to ask several important questions that hinge on various aspects of the research process.
Prof. Julius A. Nukpezah is an Associate Professor of Public Policy and Administration in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration (PSPA), and a Dean’s Eminent Scholar in the Social and Behavioral Sciences for the College of Arts and Sciences at Mississippi State University. He was named “the Outstanding Graduate Professor” in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration in 2018 and 2022. His research focuses on public budgeting and finance, state and local government management, and the intersection between poverty alleviation policies and economic development. Currently, he is a PI or co-PI of more than $1.6 million in U.S. government grant research projects in Africa. He was a senior policy advisor at the Ghana Ministry of Food and Agriculture and a coordinator of a youth program in agriculture, where he collaborated with several international agencies, including affiliates of the countries of Japan (JICA), Germany (GIZ), the United States (USAID), the Netherlands (SNV), China, India, and multiple African countries for economic development. Julius Nukpezah teaches several courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels including, Public Budgeting and Financial Management, Public Policy, a doctoral seminar in Organization Behavior in the Public Sector, and Quantitative Research Methods. He was an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the University of North Texas in the USA.
The IESS fortnightly Seminar Series serves as a platform for knowledge exchange and capacity building. Faculty and guests from academia, policy, and practice present on topical issues, particularly those of relevance to the Environment and the overall capacity development of students and staff during the Seminars. Click to access the slides of the ‘‘Conducting Social Science Research’’ lecture or the Recordings (Passcode: j$?N=3vP) of the Seminar.