Political Science 502                                                              

Research Design and Analysis

Fall 2006                                         

Professor Mikel Wyckoff

Office: Zulauf 403 753-7056

Hours: MW 11-12:00







This first semester of the scope and method sequence focuses on a variety of issues that must be considered when planning and executing a research project. The goals of the course are to introduce major research strategies and data collection methods extant in the political science literature and to lay out some of the philosophical underpinnings of the social science research process. While POLS 502 is definitely not a course in statistics, it will provide a very brief introduction to data analysis that will help you better understand certain research design issues and provide a useful bridge to POLS 541.





            Royce A. Singleton and Bruce C. Straits, Approaches to Social Research (4th ed.),

            Oxford University Press, 2004.


            Students also will read one of the following books for an assignment in the second half

            of the course: Richard Fenno, Home Style or John Kingdon, Congressmens Voting

            Decisions (1989).


            Additional required readings in the form of: handouts and articles available.





Class Participation. Although I will be lecturing more than would be the case if the class had a traditional, seminar format, I expect everyone to come to class each week prepared to discuss the assigned readings.


Exams. A midterm and a final exam will be given.


Research Design. Each student will prepare an original research proposal based on a topic of his or her choice. Additional guidelines for the proposal will be discussed in coming weeks. All proposals must include procedures for testing a causal hypothesis, and the procedures chosen should maximize (within reason and within the bounds of practicality) your ability to conduct a rigorous test of the hypothesis. Two preliminary elements of the design are required before the end of the semester:


  • Annotated Bibliography (3-5 pages, due by Week 6). To ensure that everyone gets started on the research proposal in a timely fashion I will ask you to start digging into the political science literature right away and generate an annotated bibliography based on the studies you locate. This preliminary paper should: (1) provide a brief description of your research problem; and (2) briefly summarize the salient features of at least eight books, book chapters, or articles in scholarly journals that have relevance for your final research proposal. One good paragraph for each work cited should be satisfactory. With additional work, this initial bibliography should evolve into the literature review portion of your research proposal.


  • Research Design Prospectus (maximum 3 pages, due by Week 11). This second preliminary Paper will provide a brief summary and overview of your final research design as you envision it at Week 11. It should include: (1) a brief description of your research problem; (2) one or more specific hypotheses to be tested; (3) an Os and Xs scheme that applies to your anticipated research design, along with supporting discussion (this will make more sense as time goes on); (4) tentative plans for collecting and analyzing the data needed to test your hypotheses.


  • Final Research Design. Your final research proposal should be approximately 15-20 pages in length (typed and double‑spaced). All proposals are due on December 4. Late papers will be penalized at the rate of one-third of a letter grade per day.


Grading System. Final grades will be computed as follows:


Exam I                                                30%

Exam II                                               30

Annotated Bibliography                     05

RD Prospectus                                    05

Final Research Design                        20

Class Participation                              10







You are responsible for all of the readings listed on the following pages as "required." Journal articles can be found online at www.jstor.org. Readings marked as "suggested" are just thatsuggested in case you want to read more about the topics covered that week.


The following journal abbreviations are used in the outline:


            APSR = American Political Science Review

            AJPS = American Journal of Political Science

            POQ = Public Opinion Quarterly



Week 1  Overview of course and a preliminary look at the nature of scientific inquiry




Week 2  Labor Day; No Class




Week 3  Epistemological Issues: science as a philosophy of knowledge or method of knowing; the

9/11     the nature of concepts and theories


            Required: Singleton and Straits, Ch. 1-2.

Stephen J. Gould, "The Freezing of Noah" (handout).

                        Krauthammer, "Let's Have No More Monkey Trials," locate online at:


                                Saletan, Unintelligible Redesign, at www.slate.com/id/2062009           


            Suggested: Nash, The Nature of the Natural Sciences.

            Hayek, The Theory of Complex Reality, in Studies in Philosophy,

                                    Politics and Economics.

            Beveridge, The Art of Scientific Investigation (especially good on the

origins of concepts and theories).

            Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery.

            Kaplan, The Conduct of Inquiry.

            Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

                        Lakatos and Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge.

                        Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.



Week 4  Basic Elements of Research Design; Intro To Data Processing


            Required: Singleton and Straits, Ch. 3; Ch. 17, pp. 540-548; Ch. 14, pp. 447-456.

Shively, A Machiavellians Guide to Developing Research Topics, in

                                    The Craft of Political Research (e-reserves).


            Suggested: Kerlinger, Foundations of Behavioral Research (a classic text on research

design written by a prominent psychologist; see initial chapters).

                        Babbie, The Practice of Social Research (a very good, upper level under-

                                    graduate text on research design).

                        Manheim and Rich, Techniques of Systematic Bibliographic Research,

                                    in Empirical Political Analysis (this potentially useful chapter is drawn

from the text Professor Schubert often used when he taught POLS 502).   



Week 5  Measurement Issues and Elementary Data Analysis


            Required: Singleton and Straits, Ch. 4 and 14, pp. 456-463, 467-479.

                        Diamond, "Soft Sciences Are Often Harder Than Hard Sciences, at:


                        Nash, The Nature of the Natural Sciences, pp. 46-62 (e-reserves).

                        Sears, et al., Is It Really Racism? POQ 61 (1997). (Note, esp. the many

                                    alternative conceptual and operational definitions of racism used here.)


Suggested: Kerlinger, Foundations of Behavioral Research.

            Zeller and Carmines, Measurement in the Social Sciences.



Week 6  Strengthening Inferences: Random Sampling and Random Assignment


Annotated bibliography due today


            Required: Singleton and Straits, Ch. 5, and Ch. 6, pp. 153-162.


            Suggested: Babbie, The Practice of Social Research (his chapter on sampling

                                    issues is a very good one). See also Survey Research Methods.

Fowler, Survey Research Methods (a Sage paperback).

Sudman, Applied Sampling (good book by one of the nations top

            sampling statisticians; lots of concrete examples)

            Kish, Survey Sampling (rigorous, classic text on sample design and

sampling issues by another superb sampling statistician).



Week 7  General Strategies for Research Design I: Experiments


            Required: Singleton and Straits, Ch. 6 (remainder) and Ch. 7, pp. 187-206.

                        Nelson, et al., Media Framing of a Civil Liberties Conflict 

APSR 91 (1997).

                        Lodge, et al., The Responsive Voter: Campaign Information and

                        the Dynamics of Candidate Evaluation, APSR, 1995, pp. 309-326.


            Suggested: Campbell and Stanley, Experimental and Quasi-experimental

Designs for Research.

            Aronson, Brewer and Carlsmith, Experimentation in Social Psychology"

                                    in The Handbook of Social Psychology, 1985.

                        Kinder and Palfrey, On Behalf of an Experimental Political Science," in

                                    their (eds.) Experimental Foundations of Political Science, 1993.



Week 8 General Strategies for Research Design II: Cross-sectional and Quasi-experimental Designs


Required: Singleton and Straits, Ch. 7, p. 194 (review) and pp. 206-end; Ch. 15,

pp. 483-487, 489-499.

Easton and Dennis, The Childs Acquisition of Regime Norms,

                        APSR, 1967, pp. 25-38.

            Jackman, Political Institutions and Voter Turnout in the Industrial

                        Democracies, APSR, 1987, pp. 405-420.

Jackman, Cross-National Statistical Research and the Study of

            Comparative Politics, AJPS, 1985, pp. 161-182.


Suggested: Cook and Campbell, Quasi-experimentation.

            Burkhart and Lewis-Beck, Comparative Democracy: The Economic

                        Development Thesis, APSR, 1994, pp. 903-910. (a time series study)

            Stoker and Jennings, Life-Cycle Transitions and Political Partici-

                        pation: The Case of Marriage, APSR, 1995, pp. 421-433 (good

                        example of a panel study).







Week 10  Data Collection Methods I: Survey Research


            Required: Singleton and Straits, Ch. 8-9.


            Suggested: Dillman, Mail and Telephone Surveys.

                        Babbie, Survey Research Methods.

                        Schuman and Kalton, Survey Methods, in Handbook of Social Psychology.

                        Fowler and Mangione, Standardized Survey Interviewing.

                        Krueger, Focus Groups.



Week 11  Data Collection Methods II: Archival and Other Kinds of Available Data


            Draft research proposal due today


            Required: Singleton and Straits, Ch. 11 and pp. 46-48 (review).

                        Excerpt from Streb, The New Electoral Politics of Race, (e-reserves)

Tate, "A Personal Attribute Model of the Voting Behavior of Supreme

Court Justices," APSR, 1981, pp. 355-367.

                        Carson, Jenkins, Rohde, and Souva, "The Impact of National Tides and

                        District-Level Effects on Electoral Outcomes: The U.S. Congressional

                        Elections of 1862-63." AJPS, 2001, pp. 887-898.

                        Maltzman and Wahlbeck, "The Politics of Speaker Cannon's Committee

                                    Assignments," AJPS, 2001, pp. 551-562.


            Suggested: Weber, Basic Content Analysis.

                        Yamaguchi, Event History Analysis.



Week 12  Data Collection Methods III: Field Research and Small-N Studies


            Required: Singleton and Straits, Ch. 10.

                        Fenno, Home Style, or Kingdon, Congressmens Voting Decisions.


            Suggested: King, Keohane and Verba, Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific

                                    Inference in Qualitative Research (an important, relatively recent

            work that stirred considerable controversy when published).

                        Symposium on the King et al. book in APSR, 1995, pp. 454-481.

                        Collier, The Comparative Method: Two Decades of Change, in

                                    Rustow and Erickson, Comparative Political Dynamics

                        Rubin and Rubin, Qualitative Interviewing.

                        Fetterman, Ethnography.



Week 13  Evaluation Research


            Required: Singleton and Straits, Ch. 13.

Lewis-Beck and Alford, Can Government Regulate Safety? The

Coal Mine Example, APSR, 1980, pp. 745-756.


            Suggested: Mohr, Impact Analysis for Program Evaluation.



Week 14  Research Ethics; Writing Research Reports


            Required: Singleton and Straits, Ch. 16; Ch. 17, pp. 548-end.



Week 15  Catch Up Day


Final research proposals are due today.



Week 16  FINAL EXAM: Monday December 11, 6:00  7:50