POSC 230 Methods of Political Research
Preliminary Syllabus - Spring 2001

(Prerequisite: Math 115/215/equivalent; intended for majors only.)


Professor: Kanishkan (Kani) Sathasivam
Office: Willis 404

Office Hours:

9:40 - 11:40 AM on Mondays and Wednesdays

9:30 - 11:30 AM on Fridays

1:30 - 2:30 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays

Phone: x4116 (office)
Email: ksathasi@carleton.edu

Course Description:

This course is intended to introduce you to the fundamentals of scientific research as they are employed in the discipline of political science. We will consider the nature of scientific research generally, the nature of social science research, theory construction and theory testing, applied political science research, and basic statistical tools. We will also examine some representative political research to illustrate a number of the preceding topics.

Course Requirements, Policies, & Grading:

There will be two primary requirements for this course: a political research review assignment, and a take-home final exam. Several homework assignments and in-class exercises will also be part of the course requirements. All written submissions must be typed, double-spaced, in 12-pt. font, and with 1" page margins.

For the political research review assignment, you are to locate an article presenting the results of political research, identify the model of political phenomena evident in the research, and critique this model. A thorough critique will answer the twelve questions posed by Johnson and Joslyn on pages 403-4. You should first search the library for an article that interests you. The article should employ quantitative empirical research in a sophisticated fashion-mere cross-tabulations and percentages will not suffice. Pages 160-3 in Johnson and Joslyn list possible journals to consult. Next, clear the article with me and ask me any questions you may have about its theory or method. Reading chapter 14 of Johnson and Joslyn is imperative for this assignment; chapter 13 may also assist you in sorting through statistical analysis. A 5-6 page paper is due in class on Wednesday, April 25, 2001. You must include a photocopy of your review article with your review assignment.

Homework assignments will be periodically handed out in class. The take-home final exam will essentially be a comprehensive version of these assignments. Furthermore, a few representative samples of political research will be assigned as required reading over the course of the term, and we will critique these readings together in class. Active student participation in class discussions is expected. A good class attendance record is also expected throughout the term.

Grades will be based on the following distribution scheme:

Political research review assignment: 40 %

Take-home final exam: 30 %

Homework assignments, in-class exercises, and class participation: 30 %

95 -100 % A
91 - 94 % A-
88 - 90 % B+
84 - 87 % B
81 - 83 % B-
76 - 80 % C+
71 - 75 % C
66 - 70 % C-
51 - 65 % D
0 - 50 % F

All students are expected to maintain the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity. Any act of academic dishonesty or misconduct will be referred to the Office of the Dean. For further information, see Carleton College's Academic Honesty in the Writing of Essays and Other Papers and the section on "academic honesty" in Academic Regulations and Procedures, 2000-01. Both are available in Laird 140.

Special needs: Students requiring access to learning tools or special schedules approved by Student Support Services should contact me at the beginning of the course.

Reading Assignments:

You are expected to keep up with the reading assignments as we go through the term, which means that you are supposed to read each assignment before the corresponding class period. The class lectures and discussions are meant to build upon the assigned reading material.

The following required text is available in the bookstore:

Johnson, Janet Buttolph, and Richard A. Joslyn. 1995. Political Science Research Methods. Third edition. CQ Press. [J&J henceforth.]

M 3/26 - Introduction to the course.

Part 1: The theory and philosophy of scientific inquiry.

W 3/28 - What is science?; what is scientific theory?; modeling and causality: J&J 1 & 2.

F 3/30 - Hypotheses, concepts, and variables: J&J 3.

M 4/2 - Measurement: J&J 4.

W 4/4 - Research design: J&J 5 & 14.

F 4/6 - Conducting a literature review; sampling: J&J 6 & 7.

M 4/9 - Gathering data-empirical observations and document analysis: J&J 8 & 9.

W 4/11 - Gathering data-elite interviewing and survey research: J&J 10.

Part 2: Empirically testing theories of politics.

F 4/13 - Univariate data analysis and descriptive statistics: J&J 11.

M 4/16 - Bivariate data analysis: J&J 12.

W 4/18 - Multivariate data analysis: J&J 13.

F 4/20 - [Possibly no class.]

M 4/23 - Some other models of political science: readings TBA.

W 4/25 - Course wrap-up; course evaluation.

Political research review assignment is due in class.

Take-home final exam to be handed out.

F 4/27 - Take-home final is due by 4 PM.