Political Science 394 - The Logic of Inquiry

N. Vig
R. Keiser
R. Packer


John Creswell. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. 1994


Robert K. Yin. Case Study Research. Design and Methods (Second Edition). 1994

Joseph Gibaldi. MLA Handbook for Writing Research Papers (Fourth Edition). 1995

Schedule of meetings and readings

Week 1 - 9/15

Introduction: Research Design and Paper Writing

A brief introduction to the comps writing process in the Political Science Department. This session will focus on the department's requirements for the comps paper and research design. Some important questions: Why do a research design? What are the important components? What are the department's expectations?

Reading: Creswell, ch. 1 and department handout

Week 2 - 9/22

Picking a Topic

Students will try a first cut at picking a topic for a comps project. In-class discussion of topics suggested by students.

Reading: Creswell, chs. 3-4

Assignment: Due Friday, 9/18 by 4:30 p.m. in box outside R. Packer's office. On a single sheet of paper, list a general topic (or two or three-but one sheet for EACH topic) that interests you. Be as specific as possible:

Week 3 - 9/29

Narrowing the Topic

Working with a faculty member, students will narrow their general topic and focus on that part of the topic that will generate a good 40-page paper.

Reading: Creswell, chs. 5-6

Assignment: Due Friday, 9/25. On a sheet of paper, write

Week 4 - 10/6

Situating your project in "the literature" on your topic

For this session, students will outline the foundations of their study. Students will describe the most important works on this topic completed by other analysts and explain how these works relate to their proposed research topic.

Reading: Creswell, ch. 2 plus one article from a list to be announced

Assignment: Due 10/2. Write a 1-2 page statement that includes the following:

Week 5 - 10/13

Locating Information/Data

For this session, students will specify the kinds of information/data necessary for the completion of the proposed research project.

Reading: Creswell, chs. 8 or 9, and 10 (depending on whether you are interested in using quantitative or qualitative approaches in your paper)

Assignment: Due 10/9. Consulting your faculty advisor if necessary, locate and list the sources of the information you will need to complete this study. In 1-2 pages list:

Week 6 - 10/20

Writing the Proposal

Reading: Creswell, ch. 7

Assignment: Due Friday, 10/16. Write a draft of the research proposal and hand in four copies, three for the class and one copy to your faculty advisor for comments. It should include:

Week 7 - 10/27

Rethinking the proposal

Assignment: Due 10/23. Second draft of research proposal, incorporating the faculty advisor's and the instructor's comments.

In this session, students will come to grips with comments made by the faculty members on the comps committee, change their projects accordingly, and work on the "final draft." This is a discussion session.

Week 8 - 11/3 (no meeting)

Final Draft of Research Design due Monday 11/2

Week 9 - 11/10

Writing the Paper

Reading: Creswell, ch. 11

Comments about paper writing: first drafts, rewriting, outlining, feedback, working with your advisor, style and style manuals.