Political Science 2000
Prof. David Kimball
Research Paper Overview
For the research paper, you will design and implement your own research on a political science topic of your choice. The project is divided into sections to make the assignment more manageable and to give me several opportunities to provide you with feedback. You will choose your own paper topic from one of the data files listed at the bottom. The data files are available on the course web site, and they will allow you to choose from many different topics. You will have some other short data analysis assignments during the semester, which will help you become familiar with the program. Listed below are the six assignments that make up the research paper. The due dates for each assignment are listed in your course outline and appear on the assignment calendar for the class.
1. Topic (due Jan. 28). No more than a one page paper identifying the topic of your research project. Explain why your topic is interesting or important. You must choose a topic that allows you to use one of the data files listed at the end of the assignment. You should describe which variables you plan to examine from the data file that you have chosen. After I have reviewed your topic, I will give you suggestions on how to proceed.
2. Research question (due Feb. 11). This is a revision of your topic statement. It is roughly one page explaining your research question and one or more hypotheses you will test. In the introduction explain why your research question is interesting and important. Explain which data file you will use and be explicit about the concepts you are using for your dependent and independent variables.
3. Literature Review (due March 4). This section is three to five page examining at least five to seven political science articles or books that have considered your topic or a closely related topic. The articles must come from a social science journal. Some examples include Public Opinion Quarterly, American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, American Journal of Political Science, American Politics Research, Political Research Quarterly, and Political Behavior. You can check with me about other journals that are acceptable. Citations must follow the American Political Science Association Style manual, which will be distributed to the class.
4. Research Design (due March 24). The research design combines some of the earlier research project assignments with new information to create the research proposal and plan. The design should include the following sections:
a. Introduction explaining the problem to be studied. This will be a revised version of your research topic assignment.
b. Revised literature review describing how the question has been addressed by researchers in the past. This section should use the literature review you have already submitted as a starting point. You should revise this review based on feedback from me.
c. Hypothesis or hypotheses explaining what relationships you expect between the variables you are examining. This means you must clearly explain what the dependent and independent variables will be in your analysis. You will likely use some of the ideas included in your research question assignment in this section.
d. Information about how you will measure the variables for your study.
e. Sources of the data you will use.
5. Data Analysis (due April 23). This section reports descriptive statistics for the data you analyze (frequency tables for the dependent and independent variables). In addition, this section reports the results of statistical tests of your hypotheses. You will need to use one or more of the statistical methods covered in the course (cross-tabulation, correlation, difference of means). Explain whether your hypotheses are supported or not. How certain are you of your findings? This section should be roughly 5 pages long, and it gives me the chance to make sure you are on the right track in the quantitative section of your research project.
6. Final Research Paper (due May 7). The final paper will include a revised version of the previous sections, plus a conclusion. The conclusion should tie the paper together and explain what you would like the reader to conclude about your research. What are the main results? Should we expect the results apply to other situations? Are there limits to what we can learn from the data in this study? What do the results mean for public opinion and democracy? The paper should also include a revised introduction that previews the main findings of the study.
The final research paper should be approximately 15-20 pages long. It should be type written and double-spaced. The final paper should include a cover sheet with your name, ID number, date, and the title of your project. All pages except the cover page should be numbered. Proper citations and good writing are expected.
Data Files for Research Projects
1. American National Election Study 2016
2. General Social Survey
3. States data
4. World data
Possible Research Paper Topics
1. Examine predictors of public support for a particular issue.
2. Are the views of young adults different from seniors?
3. Why do some states have a certain policy while other states do not?
4. Why is voter turnout higher in some states than other states?
5. Why is voter turnout higher in some countries than other countries?
6. Why do some countries have more women serving in their national legislature?
7. Why is the cigarette tax higher in some states than in other states?
8. Which people were most likely to vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 election?
Grading Breakdown for the Research Paper
Introduction/Research Question 10
Literature Review 25
Research Design 25
Data Analysis 25
Writing and Citations 10
Total Points 100
I will grade each section when you turn it in. You will have a chance to revise earlier sections when you turn in later sections of the paper, so you will have a chance to improve your grade. The initial score you get when you turn in earlier sections will not count toward your course grade. Your final grade on the paper (out of 100 points) will be based on the final version you turn in at the end of the semester.
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