You Are Here:
Northern Illinois University | Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Program | Political Science Writing Assistance | Help Sheets and Writing Tips | Clark Neher's Scientific Method for Writing Research Papers
Clark Neher's Scientific Method
Writing Research Papers
The following is a description of how to approach your political
science research project in a methodical and organized way. Use the
guidelines first for conceptual organization and mentally think
through the project. Then, as you are reading and writing, refer back
to the guidelines to be certain you are organizing your material in a
coherent and logical format.
Statement of the Problem
Clearly state the problem or the major issue you intend to address,
and include a description that explains the solution your paper will
work toward. Avoid general descriptions--remember, it is the
statement of the problem that defines the scope of your project.
Show why your problem is significant and of great interest to you.
Statement of Methodology
Here you will decide what material to use to support your
discussion. Think about whether quantitative or qualitative
information will offer the best support. Perhaps a blend of both
types of information will be the most useful. Indicate whether your
sources are primary or secondary. Will you interview participants?
Will you carry out survey research?
Statement of Hypothesis
Given your statement of the problem and the evidence you have
provided to detail that problem, what can you predict as the possible
outcomes? Speculate on the various developments that might arise
due to this problem.
Comment on the significance of your discussion in terms of the
problem, the evidence, and the possible outcomes. This is where you
demonstrate that you have thought the problem through and are able
to make an educated and informative commentary. In this section,
readers should be able to perceive your voice and take part in your
Provide readers with a brief restatement of your main point and then
move the discussion to a higher conceptual level. Has your research
filled a gap in current knowledge? Does your research suggest the
need for more in-depth work? Try to connect your research to other
similar research on your topic and state what contribution your
paper has made.
- Maintain an objective tone in your writing; you want to provide
your readers with the product of your critical thinking skills, not
your personal opinions.
Avoid "cut and paste" research. Instead of just "cutting"
information from your sources and "pasting" it into your own
document, show that you have read and understood your sources
by blending outside information with your own ideas. And
remember that a direct quote is not the only way to bring in a
source--paraphrases and summaries (which must always be
footnoted) can be equally effective.
the Political Science Writing Assistance Homepage