Political Science Research Paper Sample

Research Paper on Crown Corporations in Canada

Crown corporations constitute an essential part of Canadian economy and, traditionally, they play an important role in the life of the country affecting not only economy, but also political and social life of the country. At the same time, it is necessary to underline that the creation of crown corporations in Canada was not accompanied with a considerable interference of the government into economic life of the country. In fact, it was rather an attempt to take under control strategically important companies which needed the governmental support and, what is more important, which should serve to the interests of the public and, therefore, needed the establishment of the public control over their functioning. Continue reading →

Posted in Research Paper Examples Tags: Business, Economics, Government, Politics

George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany Hall Essay

The power produces a profound impact on an individual. On the other hand, an individual having the power may produce a profound impact on the development of the community and entire society depending on the power he possesses. In such a situation, the corruption of the politicians that have access to the power is particularly dangerous to the normal and stable development and progress of society. In this respect, the example of Tammany Hall and one of its most notorious representative George Washington Plunkitt is particularly noteworthy. It is obvious that the political career of George Washington Plunkitt may be viewed as the example of exercising power in personal interests of politicians. Nowadays, the methods used by Plunkitt and other politicians alike are absolutely unacceptable for progressive reformers who insist on the necessity of distinguishing personal interests of politicians from the interests of the community and it is necessary to underline that the latter should dominate over the former. Continue reading →

Posted in Book Report Examples Tags: Biography, History, Politics

Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists Essay

The creation of the Constitution was accompanied by the heat debate concerning the future of the US and its structure. Basically, these debates led to the creation of two opposing camps. On the one hand, there were federalist, while, on the other, there were their opponents, anti-federalist. Basically, their arguments concerned the role of the national government and its dominance over the interest of local communities. Continue reading →

Posted in Essay Examples Tags: Government, Politics

Research Paper on Terrorism in Southeast Asia and its Roots from the Middle East

The world history after September 11, 2001 had come to the new phase, where the main hazard to the humanity had become less clear and more abstract: international terrorism. International terrorism is considered to be a result of anti-globalization movement in predominantly Muslim world, where traditional universal values based on the principles of democracy and humanism are tried to be substituted by fundamentalist ideas of Islam which were used only in the Middle age epoch. Radical Muslims consider globalization to carry danger to their religious and cultural self-identity and consider globalization effects to cause the decline of morals and decline of religion of Islam. The talk about the origins of international terrorism can be very continuous as the topic of Muslim terrorist movement had a number of premises and different background (not only caused by globalization processes, but also but particularities of foreign policy of super powers on Middle East: The USA, NATO and the USSR) The failure of the superpowers during the years of the Cold war to establish balance of powers on the Middle east, manipulation by complexity of relations of different political and religious clans in this region caused prolonged instability and had created the most favorable conditions for the development of alternative military forces, armed religious and political groups which were out of government control. The growth of Muslim terrorism in Southeast Asia, region with the most considerable Muslim population started right after the September 11. Continue reading →

Posted in Research Paper Examples Tags: Politics

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Essay

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is of current importance and interest because, although it was solved, there is a great probability that it may break out again. It was very difficult to achieve peace in this conflict because the problem was not only in the current political situation and relations between Palestine and Israel nowadays, the root of the conflict is in distant past. There are two ethnical groups – Israelis and Palestinians – and they are fighting for the same geographical territory. Both these groups have deep roots on this territory, they can present a lot of arguments to prove that this area belongs to them. These arguments are reasonable from both sides, they have historical and religious basement. The question is: who is right here and how to solve this conflict? Continue reading →

Posted in Essay Examples Tags: Politics

The Fall of the Berlin Wall Research Paper

The Berlin Wall is a historical symbol of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall is a symbol of the end of the Cold War. At the same time, the Berlin Wall has played an extremely important role in the life of millions of people and defined the fate of German people, which has been separated by the Wall for decades. In fact, it was the most obvious frontier separating two worlds, the totalitarian world of the socialist world totally controlled by the USSR and the democratic world. Continue reading →

Posted in Research Paper Examples Tags: History, Politics, Social Issues

A Tale of Two Roosevelts: Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt

In this paper we are going to concentrate on two very important figures in the political development of the USA: Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt. We would have to stop at imperialistic development, legacies of both, main historical events that took part after each of them came to power. Continue reading →

Posted in Essay Examples Tags: Biography, Politics

Political Science Department

 

Writing a Political Science Research Paper

Political Science students are asked to write a number of different kinds of papers, including reaction papers, compare and contrast essays, close reading/textual analysis papers, and synoptic papers. The research paper is thus only one type of political science paper. It is, however, a type that has quite specific components and requirements.

The Thesis Statement

The most important and most challenging task for students writing a research paper is developing a thesis. A thesis is a non-trivial, contestable, specific claim about political phenomena that can be proven or defended through the analysis of primary source material.  

(1) Your thesis must be non-trivial

A reader will want evidence that you are exploring an important question or topic.  Explorations of the unimportant (e.g., "Canada's orange industry has been underappreciated") will not entice any but the most insensate readers. Readers will recoil, in particular, from faux theses that merely state what the author has done (e.g., "I have researched the European Union's trade policy").

(2) Your thesis must be contestable

Do not seek to prove the obvious (e.g., African American voters disproportionately support Democratic candidates for the presidency). The best theses make counterintuitive claims (e.g., revolutions often occur when conditions improve in a country after a long period of deprivation). There must be, at a minimum, alternative explanations for the phenomena you are exploring or different possible answers to the question you are posing. A good research paper directly engages these competing arguments by demonstrating that its explanation or answer is the most plausible.  

(3)  Your thesis must make a specific claim

A thesis should reference specific concepts and focus on a delimited field of inquiry.  Statements such as "religion is the chief cause of conflict in the world," "the International Criminal Court violates political sovereignty," and "the Russian people always want a czar to lead them" are neither specific nor delimited. An example of a specific, focused thesis would be "Religious divisions cause social conflict to increase in Northern Ireland when they are reinforced by other cleavages or divisions." This statement sports two concepts—social conflict and cross-cutting vs. reinforcing cleavages—that the author must develop or support in order to address the influence of religion on conflict in a specific context.

(4)  You must employ primary sources to demonstrate or defend your thesis

A literature review or a review of pertinent secondary sources (i.e., published books or articles that interpret or analyze primary sources) is not sufficient to demonstrate a thesis. A literature review is, as noted below, a significant component of your research paper, but your objective is not merely to review what other scholars have said about your topic. Your objective is to say something novel about your topic. This will require you to step outside of the published literature to mine information that you acquire firsthand.  Primary sources include (but are not limited to) public opinion surveys, demographic data (e.g., U.S. Census data), government documents, open-ended interviews conducted by the author, oral histories, archival materials (e.g., letters, policy memos, diary entries, interoffice communications, transcripts of conversations, etc.), and speeches.

The Literature Review

A literature review should accomplish two goals:

  1. Introduce your reader to the range of scholarship on your topic. This exercise can help you to provide your reader with some purchase on the complexity of your subject.
  2. Identify the most important competing arguments or claims about your topic.

As mentioned above, accomplishing #2 is integral to your effort to demonstrate or defend your thesis. You must first acquaint your reader with both the strengths and the weakness of competing arguments before you can demonstrate that your argument is superior.

Your literature review should address the most important or influential works on your topic. You will need to review books, monographs, and journal articles. Doing the last will require you to employ such research databases as JSTOR, ProQuest, and PAIS.

The Data Analysis

The form that your data analysis takes will be determined to a large degree by your choice of method or approach. If you are using statistical methods (e.g., regression analysis) or formal modeling (e.g., game theory) to analyze your data, then your paper will consist principally of justifying your choice of method, specifying your variables, and presenting and interpreting your results. Students performing quantitative analysis will need to think carefully about how best to present their findings (e.g., graphs, tables, charts, etc.). Such students could profit from reviewing Edward Tufte's classic book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, particularly Tufte's discussions of "chartjunk."  

If you are using qualitative data and methods, your paper will need to weave your findings into a narrative that is coherent, compelling, and probative. Students, for example, who decide to use the "case study approach" must devote some time to addressing the "small n problem." This, in short, is the challenge of explaining to the reader why one can generalize from a single or a small number of cases to a larger universe of cases. What makes your particular case or cases "crucial" or explanatory?  It is not sufficient merely to claim that, for example, "there is a lot of information available on my case." You must choose your case or cases for sound theoretical reasons. Robert Michels, for example, decided to study the German Social Democratic Party to test his theory that all organizations are subject to "the iron law of oligarchy" because he posited that if power was concentrated in a small number of hands in a political party that sported a democratic ethos, then such oligarchic rule would surely occur in less ostentatiously democratic organizations.

The Conclusion

A good conclusion should explain to the reader how your analysis has demonstrated that your argument is more persuasive than competing arguments. It should, in short, explain your contribution to the extant literature. Some pitfalls to sidestep when composing your conclusion are the following:

Do not go beyond your data

Even seasoned scholars can be guilty of concluding their pieces with grand statements that are not supported by their data. You can underscore your contribution to the literature without claiming that you have, for example, refuted all that has been written on your topic hitherto or created a "new paradigm." Showing respect for the work of other scholars, even that with which you disagree, is both courteous and sensible. Take care to identify the limitations of your findings or even some of the questionable parts of your analysis. Doing this will, if not immunize your work against criticism, at least allow you to get a jump on addressing some of the critiques that will be leveled at your work.

Do not sprinkle your conclusion with "questions for future research"

This is a complement of the above. Bear in mind that you are a novice researcher. It is more than a bit presumptuous to claim that your piece can be the foundation upon which other scholars will build.

Avoid boilerplate phrases such as "time will tell" or "no one can know for sure"

Conclusions are notorious for vaporous phrases that leave readers wondering, "What does that mean?" Take care that every sentence in your conclusion is meaningful (i.e., that it pertains to your argument). Short, tightly constructed and -argued conclusions are preferable to voluble, flabby conclusions that do not advance your case.

For Further Reading

Howard S. Becker with Pamela Richards, Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986)

Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995)

Gregory M. Scott and Stephen M. Garrison, The Political Science Student Writers' Manual (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1995)

Ian Shapiro, Rogers M. Smith, and Tarek Masoud (eds.), Problems and Methods in the Study of Political Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Edward R. Tufte, Envisioning Information (Cheshire, Conn.: Graphics Press, 1990)

Edward R. Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, second edition  (Cheshire, Conn.: Chart Graphics, 2001) (pdf available online)

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