Political Science 394 – The Logic of Inquiry

Fall 2002

Bert Johnson
Office: Willis 413
Office Hours:

Email: bnjohnso@carleton.edu
Website: www.fas.harvard.edu/~bnjohns
Phone: x7170 (office) 645-6338 (home--not after 10pm please)

Tuesday 10am-12:00noon;
dnesday 1:00-3:00pm;
Thursday 2-4pm, and by appointment.


Course Description

This course is intended to guide advanced majors through the process of designing and composing a research proposal for the comps paper option. At the end of this course you will write a final 10-page ‘prospectus paper’ in which you will define your research question, discuss relevant theories from existing political science literature, articulate a clear original argument related to this literature, and set out a research plan.

You are all advanced political science majors who have taken a term of methods. Accordingly, this class is designed to operate as a research workshop for a community of scholars who more or less know what they’re doing. I will review basic methodological issues and concepts within the first week or two, but will try not to spend too much time in monotonous repetition. Instead, this course will be mostly student-run. Beginning October 4, students will lead discussion. Each student will lead two discussions. First, a "literature review" discussion closer to the beginning of the term; and second, a "research design" discussion closer to the end of the term.

Prior to his or her literature review discussion, each student will assign a scholarly article to the class that holds a central position in his or her research area. On discussion day, the student will explain why the article is central and lead a critical conversation considering the strengths and weaknesses of the research. The research design discussion will follow the same pattern, except that the class will read a brief outline of the student’s proposed research design prior to discussion day. Evaluation will be organized on a 1000-points-total-possible as follows:

Abstract – 5% (50 points)
Literature Review – 15% (150 points)
Literature Discussion Leadership – 10% (100 points)
First Prospectus Paper Draft – 10% (100 points)
Research Design Discussion Leadership – 10% (100 points)
Final Prospectus Paper – 30% (300 points)
Other Participation – 20% (200 points)

Because this class will be primarily student-organized, its quality will depend upon your diligence. It is essential that everyone complete the readings and come to class prepared to discuss them. Good research is most often produced in a collegial, respectful climate of give-and-take among peers. Your preparation and attentiveness are essential elements of such a climate.

There is one book available for purchase in the bookstore for this course:

King, Gary, Robert Keohane, and Sidney Verba. Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994.

  1. September 17 - Introduction and Summary of Departmental Expectations
  2. Handout: Departmental Guidelines for the Paper Option

  3. September 19 -The "Methods" Controversy, A Review (?)

Ronald Rogowski, "The Role of Theory and Anomaly in Scientific Research," American Political Science Review 89:2 (June 1995), pp. 467-470. (Available on JSTOR or my website)

3. September 23 -Descriptive Inference

    Designing Social Inquiry, Chapter 2, pp. 34-74.

4. September 25 -Causal Inference

    Topic Statement with advisor signature due.

5. September 27 -The Literature Review

6. September 30 -Key Statistical Concepts, One More Time

7. October 2 -Research Presentation – Bert Johnson

8. October 4 -Student-Led Literature Discussions

      Abstract Due

9. October 7 -Student-Led Literature Discussions

10. October 9 - Student-Led Literature Discussions

11. October 11 - Student-Led Literature Discussions

12. October 14 - Student-Led Literature Discussions

13. October 16 - Student-Led Literature Discussions

14. October 18 - Student-Led Literature Discussions

      Literature Review Due

15. October 21 - NO CLASS – MIDTERM BREAK

16. October 23 - Student-Led Literature Discussions

17. October 25 - Student-Led Literature Discussions

18. October 28 - Student-Led Literature Discussions

19. October 30 - Student Research Design Discussions

20. November 1 - Student Research Design Discussions

21. November 4 - Student Research Design Discussions

22. November 6 - Student Research Design Discussions

23. November 8 - Student Research Design Discussions

      Prospectus Paper First Draft Due

24. November 11 - Student Research Design Discussions

25. November 13 - Student Research Design Discussions

26. November 15 - Student Research Design Discussions

27. November 18 - Student Research Design Discussions

28. November 20 - Student Research Design Discussions


November 25, 5pm - Prospectus Paper Due (10 pages)