POLS 320: SCOPE AND METHODS OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
Jose Marichal, Ph.D.
Office Hours: MWF 1:30-2:30
Office: E Building Room 7
This course is designed to provide an introduction to several types of political science research methods, their applications, and limitations. In the process, we will examine how theory informs the creation of political science knowledge. The course will be broken into four main sections. The first will provide an overview of the different methodological approaches in political and social science. Next we will look at the theory and design of quantitative studies. We will then examine comparative case study methods and conclude by looking at qualitative interview methodologies. My goal is to introduce you to these methods and to give you a foundation for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each perspective. Your assignments will emphasize reflection upon and application of the methods discussed to questions in political science. In this final research project, you will conduct a small-scale pilot project of a question of your choosing. You will present your findings and discuss how they benefit the populations of interest.
University Educational Objectives:
Field Specific Knowledge and Experience
Written Communication Skills
Department of Political Science Educational Objectives:
Political science Knowledge
Show up for class on time.
Readings for the day need to be completed prior to class times: class activities, discussions, and quizzes will primarily draw upon assigned readings.
Talking, working, and thinking with others are large parts of this class. I encourage expressions of opinions (myself included), but there are classroom boundaries. Our class will be a safe place. That is to say, we will all treat each other in a respectful manner. Rude interruptions, hurtful insults (including racial, gender, sexuality, etc. slurs), and personal attacks will not be tolerated.
Academic Dishonesty: plagiarism and other forms of “cheating” violate California Lutheran University’s code of student conduct; violations will be treated according to university policy.
All assignments and activities must be turned in on time. Extensions will not be granted on the day the assignment is due.If you are unable to attend class when an assignment is due, you should hand it in early (to the administrative office in G-Bldg. – make sure to sign-in on their paper log and let them know that it is for my mailbox), or send it with a friend to class. Late take-home or in-class assignments will not be graded unless you have documentation of an emergency: this includes deaths in the family.
If an assignment is of the take-home variety, it must follow the following guidelines: be typed, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins all around, spell-checked, grammar-checked, pages numbered, and demonstrate correct citation and bibliographic format.
California Lutheran University is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to students with various documented disabilities (physical, learning, or psychological). If you are a student requesting accommodations for this course, please let me know during the first two weeks of the semester and register with the Coordinator for Students with Disabilities (Pearson Library, Center for Academic Resources, Ext. 3260) for the facilitation and verification of need. I will work closely together with you and your coordinator to provide necessary accommodations.
Wiki Entries: Each of you will be asked to create a wiki based on an issue you identify as important to you here. This wiki will serve as the basis for your research project. Each week or so, I will ask you to post an entry based on where we are in the course (see below). The questions are designed to get you to work through your research projects throughout the semester. Each entry can be considered as a "piece" of your final project. The assignment is designed to move you through the process of identifying a research question, reviewing the literature, designing a project, collecting data, analyzing the project, writing up findings, and assessing the limitations of your "truth claim." Each entry will be up to 2 points and I will ask you to create 15 entries. They will be graded based on whether you do the assignment in a timely fashion, and how much effort and reflection you put into the assignment. The research questions are as follow:
Entry 1: Identify a political science question you are interested in. Why does this question interest you? Due Sept 14.
Entry 2: Doing Research and Problem Formulation: provide a one paragraph research proposal that describes what type of research question you seek to answer. Why is this something we should study? Of what benefit would it be to do this research? Due Sept 21.
Entry 3: Connecting Theory to Method. Discuss which approach in political science would best address the issue in which you are interested. Develop a hypothesis based on the theoretical approach you have selected. Due Sept 28.
Entry 4: Creating a Literature Review. Zotero Assignment. You must create a Zotero account and add 10 annotated references you found on your subject and a paragraph that ties the literature together. Due October 5.
Entry 5: Designing Research. Your must develop a three paragraph quantitative research design. How will you operationalize the independent and dependent variables you are studying. How will you ensure that the data is valid and reliable. Due Oct 12.
Entry 6: Data Collection. You must develop a three paragraph research statement on where and how you will collect the data? Will it be survey data? Will you draw from a sample? How will you ensure that your data is valid and reliable? Due October 25
Entry 7: Data Analysis: You will conduct descriptive analysis on your collected data using SPSS. Due October 30
Entry 8: Data Analysis Assignment You will conduct a correlation analysis using SPSS and report on the findings. November 4.
Entry 9: Synthesizing Findings: You will provide a 2-3 paragraph discussion of what the findings mean for your hypothesis, theory and general understanding of the question of interest. Due Nov 9.
Entry 10: Data presentation: You will create a critique of your research findings from a feminist, interpretive or marxist perspective. Due Nov 16.
Entry 11: Draft: Qualitative Data Collection: You will collect one piece of qualitative data. You will discuss how this data will augment your study. Due November 23
Entry 12: Qualitative Data Analysis: You will analyze qualitative data. You will select a qualitative analysis tool. Due November 30
Entry 13: Draft Pecha Kucha Presentation Online: You will present a draft of your oral presentation Due December 7
Entry 14: Normative Assignment: You will provide a normative critique of your presentation. Due Dec 11
Entry 15: Mystery Entry ;-)
Each wiki entry is worth up to 2 points…………2 x 15 = 30 points
Research Project: for this final 20-25 page paper, you will create a research project. The project will require that you present a fully formulated research question, select an appropriate design, produce a fully developed literature review, collect data and present findings that situate the work in the literature. A handout will describe this assignment in greater detail.
Research Brief ………….30 points
Oral Presentations: you are responsible for creating a concise presentation (20 minutes) that describes in detail the results of your research projects. You will be graded primarily on your ability to communicate your findings in an engaging manner and your ability to explain how the project is of benefit to a larger scientific, professional, or popular community. A handout will describe this assignment in greater detail.
Oral Presentation…………10 points
Diigo Portfolio: Part of your grade will come from your level of engagement with the readings and class assignments. I will ask you to create a portfolio of content on Diigo, a social bookmarking site that allows you to share bookmarks, create and respond to forum questions and add highlights and comments to existing articles. You will be required to post one comment each week on the readings (if there are readings you can annotate). You are strongly encouraged to post more than once. You will earn 1 point for each time you post a comment on the readings. Here is a link to the class Diigo Page.
Diigo Portfolio 1 X .5 times = 5 points
Exams: We will have two in-class exam in which you will be asked to define basic terms and concepts in research methods. The first exam in late October will address issues discussed during the first two sections of the course. The second exam in early December will cover the last two sections of the class. The exams will be a combination of multiple choice and short answer questions. Each exam will be worth 12.5 points.
Exams: 12.5 points each + 2 Exams = 25 points
Reading and/or Assignment (to be completed prior to class)
Week 1: What is Political Science?
Sept 2: Course Introduction
Sept 4: Stoker and Marsh (Introduction)
Week 2: What's the Science in Political Science?
Sept 7: Labor Day
Sept 9: Stoker and Marsh Pages (17-26)
Sept 11: Stoker and Marsh (pages 17-40)
Week 3: Deductive Methods in Political Science
Sept 14: Getting Started with Deductive Political Science
Entry #1 Due
Sept 16: Formulating a Research Question
Sept 18: Formulating a Research Question and Research Ethics
Trochim, B. "Ethics in Research" and
Week 4: Key Theoretical Approaches in Political Science
Sept 21: Behavioralism: Sanders in Stoker and Marsh (45-64)
Entry #2 Due
Sept 23: Rational Choice: Ward in Stoker and Marsh (65-89)
Sept 25: Institutionalism: Lowndes in Stoker and Marsh (90-108)
Week 5: Situating the Research Question
Sept 28: Key Cleavages in Political Science - Human Behavior
Structure and Agency; S.McAnulla
Sept 30 - Key Cleavages in Political Science - Power and Change
Institutions and Ideas; M.Blyth
Entry #3 Due
Oct 2: Conducting Literature Review
Week 6: Constructing Quantitative Research
Oct 5: Types of Research Designs
Oct 7: Validity and Reliability Validity, Internal Validity, Establishing Cause & Effect, , external validity, idea of construct validity, construct validity threats, measurement validity types, Convergent & Discriminant Validity,
Entry #4 Due
Oct 9: Fall Holiday
Week 7: Collecting Data
October 12: Survey Construction
Oct 14: Survey Construction
Entry #5 Due
Oct 16: Exam #1
Week 8: Preparing and Analyzing Data
Oct 19: Data Collection
Oct 21: Descriptive Statistics
ICPSR Workshop -- Take 2 :-)
Oct 23: Descriptive Statistics (just skim...we'll discuss next week)
Trochim. Data Preparation
Statsoft. Basic Statistics. Up to – Breakdown: Descriptive Statistics by Groups
Week 9: Analyzing Data (Inferential Statistics)
Entry #6 Due
Week 10: Broadening Positivist Analysis
Statsoft. Basic Statistics. The rest of the page.
Entry #7 Due
Week 11: Doing Qualitative Research
Nov 11: Feminism Randall in Stoker and Marsh (109-130)
Nov 13: Interpretative (Phenomenonological) Theory - Bevir and Rhoades in Stoker and Marsh (131-152)
Entry #8 Due
Week 12: Doing Qualitative Research
Nov 16: Qualitative Methods - Devine in Stoker and Marsh (197-215)
Optional: We'll go over tomorrow: Good writing in political science
Nov 18: Qualitative Interviewing and Field Work
Entry #9 Due
Nov 20: Mixed Method Research
Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Methods; M.Read and D.Marsh
Week 13: Writing Up Data
Entry #10 Due
Nov 25 - 27: Thanksgiving Holiday (No Class)
Week 14: Presenting Data and Going Forward
Nov 30: Presenting Data
Dec 2: Normative Theory - Buckler in Stoker and Marsh (172-193)
Entry # 11 Due
Dec 4: Flyvbjerg, B. (2005) Social Science that Matters. Foresight Europe.
Week 15: Conclusion and Final
Dec 7: Conclusions; D.Marsh and G.Stoker
Entry #13 Due
Dec 9: Exam #2
Dec 11: Final Presentations
Entry # 14 Due