Department of Politics and Society

Event by Department of Politics and Society

Invitation to PhD course: Vignette method

Invitation to PhD course: Vignette method

This course is intended for PhD students who want to use vignette method to address causal explanations or systematic comparisons in an interpretive or qualitative research project.


22.08.2023 kl. 09.00 - 25.08.2023 kl. 15.00


The course is primarily targeted students of political science, sociology, international relations, and public administration, but students of other social science disciplines such as public policy and anthropology can also benefit from it. The course is organized around the typical steps of a vignette method process - from how to develop vignettes, how to use them in data collection, how to analyze reactions to vignettes to how to interpret and draw valid conclusions from vignettes analyses. The course introduces vignette method by focusing on reasons for using it, how to use it and not least when to use it in the data collection process and more general in respect of understanding when vignette method is the optimal choice of method. Students will come to understand the logic of vignette method and students will be able to decide if, when and how to develop vignettes suitable with their own research question. The course provides students with a theoretical knowledge of vignette method, including insights into how they can be used in practice in an interpretive or qualitative research process.

Students will learn to develop vignettes while becoming familiar with contemporary thinking about deliberative manipulation to integrate experimental logic into an interpretive or qualitative investigation. During the course we will focus on understanding the scientific criteria behind vignette method, and we will focus on variance theory versus process theory as forms of causal explanation and we will address the pros and cons of stimulation in an interpretive or qualitative research design.

The course is organized with the following five objectives in mind: (1) To examine the scientific criteria of vignette method and to give students basic training in how to develop vignettes suitable for interpretive or qualitative research questions. (2) To expose students to issues of conceptualization, theory, research design, and strategies of framing vignettes and selecting attributes and wording of the vignette’s profile description.  (3) To assist students in how to organize and process vignettes through the phase of data collection, analysis, and conclusion drawing. (4) To provide students with knowledge about how to choose the best strategy of vignette method for the research question and finally (5) how to draw conclusions from vignette analyses.

The course will cover the basic techniques for collecting, interpreting, and presenting analyses of vignettes. Throughout the course we will operate on two interrelated dimensions, one focused on the theoretical approaches to various types of vignette method, the other focused on the practical techniques of how to formulate, develop and validate the vignettes used in the interpretive or qualitative research design.

Theoretically, the course considers questions such as the following: What is a vignette and what is vignette method? What questions is it best suited for? By what criteria does it meet or fail to meet the standards of scientific evidence? What is the role s of causality in interpretive or qualitative research? Can vignette methods be used to test hypotheses, or only generate them? Can vignettes support making and analyzing thematic connections? Do interpretive or qualitative vignette analyses have a small-N problem? In what ways is vignette research “grounded”?

Practically, the course considers questions such as the following: What scientific criteria apply for vignette method? How do researchers construct the ‘right’ vignette to the ‘right’ research question? What collecting techniques can be used to enhance the quality of vignette analyses? What scientific position ground the vignette analyses? What is the unit of analysis? How do researchers organize the vignettes and how do they use them in practice? How can they make sense of their interpretations of vignette analyses in a transparent, authentic, and inclusive way?  And how can they draw conclusions from their vignettes analyses?

After the course students will have knowledge of how to choose between vignette methods, including insight into hands-on tools that can be used during a research process using vignettes.

Organiser and lecturer

Marie Østergaard Møller, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Politics & Society, Aalborg University, Denmark.




Students must submit a 10 pages paper after the course for evaluation (a post-reflection paper)


If you have any questions about the PhD course, please contact PhD secretary Marianne Høgsbro.

Further information and registration


Department of Politics and Society, Aalborg University


Aalborg University, Campus Aalborg

Registration Deadline

25.06.2023 kl. 12.00