Political science

420Research Paper
General Requirements
Each student will write a research paper on a topic relating in some way to political attitudes and behavior, and a topic in which you can use data available from the SDA website. All paper topics must be selected with the professor’s approval. The purpose is to give students a better understanding of political behavior and attitudes in the United States. Some library research is required, with a minimum of 5 library sources; while you may use any of your textbooks as a source, they do not count toward your 5 sources. Internet sources are acceptable but are limited to government sites such as www.census.gov, or reputable sources like www.pewresearch.org. Each student should select a topic of interest to her/him which can be carried out this semester.
Possible project areas would be:
The impact of public opinion on policy;
examining the role of race and/or class in determining voting;
considering why younger people are less likely to vote;
the influence of mass media on political attitudes;
This list is not exhaustive. Students are encouraged to be innovative in selecting topics and in carrying out their projects.
In writing these papers, students should: be sure that all sources listed in the bibliography actually are used in the paper; use a consistent style of writing (e.g. APA); avoid typographical errors; and use correct grammar and complete sentences. These projects are evaluated in terms of quality of research (number and variety of sources, and depth of research). These papers are to consist of original thought and research. They are not simply compilations of existing thought on the topics. You should use existing literature for your sources, but you need to go beyond what you read to draw your own conclusions. In other words, I want this paper to be more than a summary of what others have said.
Typical Paper Outline (Guidelines only, you will modify as needed.)
• Here’s where you spell out what you are investigating and previewing what will be discussed in your paper. Generally this is a couple paragraphs, and should never be more than a page. Don’t forget to make clear what it is your paper will be doing.
The Problem (in general terms)
• Use a subheading to indicate what you plan to analyze. Remember that your reader may know nothing about the particular area you are discussing so you must provide sufficient background to help the reader understand what the issues are and where your paper is going.
The Problem in Specific Terms
• Use another subhead to indicate that you are now going to discuss the details of the topic and then use whatever additional subheads you need to allow the reader to make sense of where you are going. In this section (the largest part of the paper) you will get into the details of your topic, including your analysis of the situation. This must also include references to the literature you have researched which provides the backbone for your own analysis.
• Finally, you should summarize the paper – you start by returning to the general topic and summarizing your findings. Then you need to discuss the implications of your findings.
• After the main body of your paper, you should have your references (beginning on a new page) and then any Tables or Figures, each on its own page.

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