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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "PL 460"
COURSE NAME: "Social Science Research Methods "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2020
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Michael Driessen
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 11:30-12:50 PM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: Junior Standing
OFFICE HOURS:

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
This course presents an introduction to research methods commonly used by political and other social scientists. The course covers the logic of the scientific method, including literature reviews, research design, surveys and experiments, as well as the use of statistical data. Students will hand in a thesis proposal, an outline of their senior thesis topic, and their choice of first and second readers as an exit requirement.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:

The general structure of this course is meant to teach students how to 1) ask a good research question; 2) craft a research design to begin answering that question; 3) collect evidence appropriate to the task of this research design; and 4) evaluate and articulate the significance of one’s findings relative to this task.

In order to achieve the above, this course will discuss the different types of arguments and logics that social scientists employ to answer questions. We will learn how to conduct background research on these questions using the libraries and computers at our disposition. We will consider how the collection of data may be used to establish causality and how to assess the limits and uncertainties of “truth claims.” The course will also introduce the student to various qualitative approaches to data collection. We will also ask what the ethical implications of our research are, chart out how we can carry out field research in our own Italian backyard and learn how to write up the results of our research project.

As an applied course, student interaction will be essential and a student’s final grade will be based on the strength of their collaborative participation in class as well as the quality of their final research project. Students, therefore, will regularly present in class on the progress of their projects and will also be required to critique their fellow students’ presentations.

 

LEARNING OUTCOMES:

My pedagogical hope is that students will finish this course with the beginnings of a substantive research project in hand. They will be able to name and apply basic social science research methods to good research questions. They will be prepared to write their senior thesis well.

Note: The JCU Library has kindly prepared the following webpage for our course: Link

If you are not familiar with it already, the Library’s Political Science Research Guide is also very helpful: Link

TEXTBOOK:
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Political Research: Methods and Practical SkillsSandra Halperin & Oliver HeathOxford University Press9780199558414 Please Send to Almost Corner and note that I need a desk copy of the new edition
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
Outline  5%
Quiz 10%
Paper Presentation 10%
Literature Review 20%
Participation 15%
Final Paper 30%
Research Proposal 5%
Bibliography 5%

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:
This course presents an introduction to research methods commonly used by political and other social scientists. The course covers the logic of the scientific method, including literature reviews, research design, surveys and experiments, as well as the use of statistical data. Students will hand in a thesis proposal, an outline of their senior thesis topic, and their choice of first and second readers as an exit requirement.
ACADEMIC HONESTY
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.

SCHEDULE


 
 
 

SCHEDULE


Class 1 (Sept 21):Introduction to the Seminar: Working in and on International Politics

Readings: None

PART I: CONCEPTS, METHODS, MODELS REVISITED

Class 2 (Sept 23):Issues, Methodologies, Theories, and Values in Global Political Research

Readings: Sandra Halperin & Oliver Heath, “Political Research,”Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills(Oxford University Press, 2017), pp.1-22 [Chapter 1]

Class 3 (Sept 28): Philosophy of Knowledge in Political Science

Readings: Sandra Halperin & Oliver Heath, “Forms of Knowledge,” & “Objectivity and Values”Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills: pp. 25-34; 41-50; 54-70 (2017 edition) [parts of Chapter 2 & 3]

 

Recommended:

 

Michael Desch (2019). “How Political Science became Irrelevant: The field turned its back on the Beltway,The Chronicle of Higher Education

 

Class 4 (Sept 30):Asking and Answering Research Questions: Formulating Puzzles & Hypotheses

Readings: Sandra Halperin & Oliver Heath,”Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills(Oxford University Press, 2017) “Asking Questions,” and “Finding Answers,” [Chapters chapters 4 & 5]

Class 5 (Oct 2):Research Question Workshop I

Workshop Assignment 1: Post a draft of your research question to moodle and bring it to class

Readings: Max Weber (1958), “Science as a Vocation,” Daedalus, (87)1

Class 6 (Oct 5):Researching Databases & Advanced Bibliographies (Turn in Revised Draft of Research Question to be graded)

 

Library Session

Class 7 (Oct 7): Effective Research Designs

Readings: Sandra Halperin & Oliver Heath,”Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills: “Research Design,”& “What is Data?” [Chapters 6 & 7 in 2017 edition]

Class 8 (Oct 12): Research Question Workshop II

Workshop Assignment 2: On moodle, name the most important term of your research topic. Then: 1) Attempt a working definition for that term (conceptualization) and 2) Name one way you could measure it in reality (operationalization)

Class 9 (Oct 14):Doing Research I: Comparative Method and Process Tracing

Readings: Sandra Halperin & Oliver Heath,”Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills: “Comparative Research” [Chapter 9 in 2017 edition]

James Mahoney (2004), “Comparative-Historical Methodology,” Annual Review of Sociology (30)

Class 10 (Oct 19): Doing Research II: Interviews and Surveys

(Bibliography due)

Readings: Sandra Halperin & Oliver Heath,”Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills “Surveys,” and “Interviewing and Focus Groups,” [Chapters 11 & 12 of 2017 edition]

Class 11 (Oct 21): Doing Research III: Ethnographies and Textual Analysis

Readings: Sandra Halperin & Oliver Heath,”Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills “Ethnography and Participant Observation,” and “Textual Analysis,” [Chapters 13 & 14 of 2017 edition]

Recommended: CliffordGeertz, “Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture,”

Class 12 (Oct 26): METHODOLOGY QUIZ

Class 13 (Oct 28): Writing

Readings: Bidisha Biswas & Agnieszka Paczynska (2015), “Teaching theory, writing policy: Integrating lessons from foggy bottom into the classroom,”PS: Political Science & Politics, 48 (1): 157-161.Link

Class14 (Nov 2): Putting Methodology to Work I:

Workshop Assignment 3: Group 1 maps out the methodology and substance of the following two articles:

Omar Wasow (2020), “Agenda Seeding: How 1960s Black Protests Moved Elites, Public Opinion and Voting,American Political Science Review 114(3)

Brandon Vaidyanathan (2020) Systemic Racial Bias in the Criminal Justice System is not a Myth,” Public Discourse

Recommended

Michael Tesler (2016) “The Return of Old-Fashioned Racism to White Americans’ Partisan Preferences in the Early Obama Era,” The Journal of Politics 75(1)

Robin Engel, Hannah McManus and Gabrielle Isaza, “Moving beyond ‘Best Practice’: Experiences in Political Reform and a Call to reduce Officer-Involved Shootings,The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (2020) 647(1)

Class 15 (Nov 4): Putting Methodology to Work I:

Workshop Assignment 3: Group 2 maps out the methodology and substance of the following two articles:

Robert D. Blackwill and Thomas Wright (2020), “The End of World Order and American Foreign Policy,Council on Foreign Relations

Francis Fukuyama, (2020), “The Pandemic and Political Order: It Takes a State,” Foreign Affairs

Jeffrey Cimmino, Matthew Kroenig and Barry Pavel (2020), “Taking Stock: Where are Geopolitics Headed in the COVID-19 Era?Atlantic Council

Classes 16-20 (Nov 6-Nov 18): (Outline Due November 6) One on One Writing Workshops

Students are required to sign up for a 30-minute meeting with Professor Driessen between November 6- November 18

DRAFT OF LITERATURE REVIEW DUE NOV 20; TO BE CIRCULATED AMONG PARTICIPANTS

PART II: DOING AND PRESENTING IR RESEARCH AND POLICY OPTIONS

Students are required to sign up for a 30-minute meeting with Professor Driessen between November 23-November 30

Class 21 (Nov 23):Student Presentations & Discussion

Presenter 1: Discussant 1:

Presenter 2: Discussant 2:

Class 22 (Nov 25): Student Presentations & Discussion

Presenter 1: Discussant 1:

Presenter 2: Discussant 2:

Class 23 (Nov 30):Student Presentations & Discussion

Presenter 1: Discussant 1:

Presenter 2: Discussant 2:

Class 24 (Dec 2):Student Presentations & Discussion

Presenter 1: Discussant 1:

Presenter 2: Discussant 2:

Class 25 (Dec 7):Student Presentations & Discussion

Presenter 1: Discussant 1:

Presenter 2: Discussant 2:

Class 26 (Dec 9):Student Presentations & Discussion

Workshop Assignment 4: Post on Moodle Calendar Plan for Next Semester Thesis Writing

Presenter 1: Discussant 1:

Presenter 2: Discussant 2:

FINAL TERM RESEARCH/POLICY PAPER DUE on FINAL EXAM DATE