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How to Write a Political Science Research Paper

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❶But even when intelligent, informed people disagree, they must focus on the question at hand in order to advance the debate.

Types of Political Science Writing

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Department of Political Science

There must be, at a minimum, alternative explanations for the phenomena you are exploring or different possible answers to the question you are posing. A good research paper directly engages these competing arguments by demonstrating that its explanation or answer is the most plausible. Statements such as "religion is the chief cause of conflict in the world," "the International Criminal Court violates political sovereignty," and "the Russian people always want a czar to lead them" are neither specific nor delimited.

An example of a specific, focused thesis would be "Religious divisions cause social conflict to increase in Northern Ireland when they are reinforced by other cleavages or divisions. A literature review is, as noted below, a significant component of your research paper, but your objective is not merely to review what other scholars have said about your topic. Your objective is to say something novel about your topic. This will require you to step outside of the published literature to mine information that you acquire firsthand.

Primary sources include but are not limited to public opinion surveys, demographic data e. Census data , government documents, open-ended interviews conducted by the author, oral histories, archival materials e. The Literature Review A literature review should accomplish two goals:. As mentioned above, accomplishing 2 is integral to your effort to demonstrate or defend your thesis.

You must first acquaint your reader with both the strengths and the weakness of competing arguments before you can demonstrate that your argument is superior. Your literature review should address the most important or influential works on your topic.

You will need to review books, monographs, and journal articles. The Data Analysis The form that your data analysis takes will be determined to a large degree by your choice of method or approach. If you are using statistical methods e. Students performing quantitative analysis will need to think carefully about how best to present their findings e.

Such students could profit from reviewing Edward Tufte's classic book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information , particularly Tufte's discussions of "chartjunk. Students, for example, who decide to use the "case study approach" must devote some time to addressing the "small n problem. What makes your particular case or cases "crucial" or explanatory? It is not sufficient merely to claim that, for example, "there is a lot of information available on my case.

Robert Michels, for example, decided to study the German Social Democratic Party to test his theory that all organizations are subject to "the iron law of oligarchy" because he posited that if power was concentrated in a small number of hands in a political party that sported a democratic ethos, then such oligarchic rule would surely occur in less ostentatiously democratic organizations.

The Conclusion A good conclusion should explain to the reader how your analysis has demonstrated that your argument is more persuasive than competing arguments. It should, in short, explain your contribution to the extant literature. Some pitfalls to sidestep when composing your conclusion are the following: Do not go beyond your data Even seasoned scholars can be guilty of concluding their pieces with grand statements that are not supported by their data.

Lisa Baglione received her Ph. In her last years of graduate school, Lisa taught at the Cornell-in-Washington Program, where she supervised undergraduates who were writing public policy theses. That experience, along with teaching research methods at St.

Baglione realize that a textbook that combined a focus on writing and methodology was needed. This concise text discusses both the parts of a research paper and what students should seek to accomplish in them. In addition, the text explains details such as how to choose My library Help Advanced Book Search. Writing a Research Paper in Political Science: In addition, the text explains details such as how to choose and use headings and titles, examines different types of sources, stresses that each part of a paper requires different types of information, and considers different ways of evaluating data.

Topics include how to develop a research question, write a literature review, design a study, analyze information, write introductory and concluding sections, and edit and revise a paper.

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Very good intro to writing a research paper in Political Science. Baglione explains the research process step by step in a simple and clear language. There are great samples in the book one can use for reference, as well as /5(26).

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Want your students to write their first major political science research paper with confidence? With this book, they can. Author Lisa Baglione breaks down the research paper into its constituent parts and shows students precisely how .

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How to Write a Political Science Research Paper Organize your paper in the following way: . Introduction: Begin the paper by identifying your research question. Literature Review: Discuss the existing scholarly literature that relates to your question Data: Present your evidence so that it supports your thesis (that is the answer to your . Writing a Research Paper in Political Science: A Practical Guide to Inquiry, Structure, and Methods / Edition 3 Even students capable of writing excellent essays still find their first major political science research paper an intimidating $

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Writing political science research papers Your instructors use research paper assignments as a means of assessing your ability to understand a complex problem in the field, to develop a perspective on this problem, and to make a persuasive argument in favor of your perspective. There are differences in writing across disciplines, but also various genres within political science itself. Below are resources tailored to different political science writing assignments. Writing a research paper: Near the start of your undergraduate studies, we recommend purchasing the following reference on writing the political science research paper.