Methods of Public Policy

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Research Profile

What strategies do governments and multilateral institutions use to combat poverty and growing inequalities? How do global public policies address the challenges of international or national conflicts, energy crises, migration and displacement, and trade and financial regulations? Likewise, what is the impact of globalisation on the development of new entrepreneurship policies? Similarly, how do the digitalisation trends influence policies and regulations? These are some of the shared public policy concerns and the matters of socio-political inquiry we regularly deal with at the Brandt School. Our professors, researchers, and students actively engage in evaluating and shaping policy outcomes.

The Brandt School sees practice and policy as integral components of its mission and vision. Faculty members and graduate students have experience working around real-life problems and they aim for significant, constructive and transformative change at all levels of society, from local communities to national and international institutions. The Brandt School’s methodological ethos advocates for a reflective and ethical scholar-practitioner policymaker, where research and practice reinforce one another. Internationally, Brandt School graduates have contributed to policy and practice in the social, economic, political and diplomatic sectors. In their respective capacities, they serve as policymakers in national and international organizations. Therefore, the future graduates must develop a strong methodological skill set to conduct data-driven policy making. The Brandt School regards public policy research as inherently methodological form of inquiry. Thus, our primary objective is to integrate different perspectives on social reality, and to merge theoretical understanding with practical engagement. This process has the potential to both re-energize the social sciences as a whole and to reconceive the relationship between knowledge and politics.

The Brandt School core faculty specialize in the following methods:

  • Comparative Case Studies
  • Econometric Methods
  • Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)
  • Multi-Method-Research
  • Mixed methods




Dr. Alejandra Ortiz-Ayala is willing to advise students on developing their research questions and identifying the most appropriate methodological design. From survey design to semi-structured or in-depth interviews to policy analysis using thematic or narrative analysis. Dr. Ortiz-Ayala is also interested in supporting students with their fieldwork ethics, analysis and data collection in the following topics: Post-conflict scenarios (DDR, SSR, Reconciliation and Transitional Justice). The individual specialization of Dr. Ortiz-Ayala are as follows:

1. Survey design (including survey experiments using Qualtrics Software)

2. Design and analysis of semi-structured interviews.

3. Preparation, design and execution of in-depth interviews.

4. Policy analysis using thematic or narrative analysis.

5. Inductive and Deductive analysis.

6. Nvivo data analysis of qualitative data.

7. Quantitative analysis in STATA or Jamovi Software. 

8. Ethics of data collection and research design.

9. Participatory Research methods. 

10. Decolonization of research methodologies. 

11. Mixed methods approach. 

Dr. Hasnain Bokhari has supervised graduate research at the Brandt School since 2011, including some award-winning studies . He advises students on evaluation strategies for case studies, innovative use of indices to devise policy analysis indicators, designing survey instruments and conducting focus-group discussions and content analysis. Dr. Bokhari is happy to advise students in honing their methodoligical skills. The individual specialization of Dr. Bokhari are as follows:

  • Quantitative Content Analysis  
  • Sentiment Analysis using Digital Social Networks  
  • Mixed-Method Approaches  
  • Survey Design  
  • Case Study Design and Analysis  
  • Policy Evaluation  
  • Semi/In-depth Interviews Preparation and Evaluation



  • Mello, P. A. (2021). Qualitative Comparative Analysis: An Introduction to Research Design and Application. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

Workshops and Conferences

2019: DVPW Workshop “Methods of Foreign Policy Analysis” (September 26/27, Erfurt)


Students from Dr. habil. Patrick A. Mello’s project group “The Politics of UN Sanctions” participated in a well attended academic panel at the General Conference of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) on August 24th, 2020.

On September 26/27, 2019, Brandt School Visiting Scholar Dr. Patrick A. Mello co-organized a two-day workshop on “Methods of Foreign Policy Analysis”, together with Dr. Falk Ostermann of Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen.