POLITICAL SCIENCE 490 – FALL 2017
Assignment 2: Evolution of Political Science as Seen Through APSR
The purpose of this exercise is to review the evolution of American political science in the last five decades through a careful study of the discipline’s leading journal. It also seeks to introduce the students to various “templates” of research in political science and aid their literature review.
Please read the following instructions carefully. Make sure you understand them, before you begin on the exercise.
This assignment is due October 25, to turn in via Blackboard. Ensure your computer and printer are in working conditions.
Review the policies enunciated in the syllabus, and especially the instructions regarding the exercises and my expectations on written works. For those that seek to benefit from the help of the Writing Center, start your work earlier.
Your paper should be typed, double-spaced for text, with all sources documented, and all tables or diagrams clearly labeled and identified throughout the text. The suggested length is five pages.
Grading criteria: Admittedly grading in Political Science can seldom be absolutely objective. But I will grade your assignments roughly according to the following criteria. You will receive a letter grade, a score, and comments on your paper.
Substance (50%): satisfactory answers to all questions asked, evidence of command of literature, additional research (if any), and ability to summarize, categorize, compare, contrast, and draw meaningful conclusions.
Presentation effectiveness (30%): good organization of the paper, logical coherence, creativity, technical precision, statistical and/or graphical aids.
Writing (20%): clarity, economy, and style. Select a “sample” of five issues (edition) of the American Political Science Review, one from each decade (1960s, 70s, …, 2000s). Examine each issue of the journal carefully, reading at least the introduction and conclusion of one article (preferably from different subfields in political science, such as American politics, international relations, comparative politics, public policy, etc.) in each issue (not counting essays, research notes, or controversies) and only skimming other sections. Also look for tables and figures for hints on how you will display information. You may want to note differences in topic, but the main focus of your research is on changes in political science methods of research and analysis. How do authors present their research designs? Sample diverse research designs (e.g., experimental, quasi-experimental, cross-sectional, times-series, panel study, formal model, case study, etc.). What sources of information do they utilize? How do they collect material? Do they utilize, for instance, reference materials, primary documents, secondary sources, field research, survey questionnaires, aggregate data, or other kinds of information? Identify the salient, characteristic variables (factors or dimensions that vary) in the way political scientists approach their inquiries. These should be what you find to be the defining traits of methodology in the discipline. Name each variable carefully, so that your distinctions among different variables are clear. Operationalize your variables. How can you measure and depict the changes you see? Some common levels of measurement include binomial (yes/no), nominal (named traits, as in White, Blacks, Latinos), ordinal (rankings, as in low/medium/high), interval (a scale, such as Fahrenheit or SAT), and ratio (whole numbers that can be counted). For each variable in your study, there must be a precise measurement that allows you to depict your observations accurately. Construct one or more clear and useful tables to describe and summarize the changes in the methods of political science in the last five decades as observed in your five sample issues. Your objective is to depict your observations completely and succinctly, in a self-explanatory table that conveys interesting information about the discipline of political science. Use table-maker in Word or other word processor and experiment with font size and margins in order to create an attractive, neat, readable presentation. You may also choose to present some information in the form of graphs. Each table or graph needs a clear descriptive title. Be sure to identify and cite your materials.
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