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Clark Neher's Scientific Method for
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 thought processes.


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.

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