Political Science 239-01
Professor Andrew Rudalevige
Denny Hall 316 (245-1716; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Office Hours: Tuesday 1-3; Thursday 9-10; or by appointment
The standard reaction to the word "methodology" (even among many professional social scientists) falls somewhere between boredom and revulsion. Yet the question of how we should study the phenomena that interest us is critical. This course provides a first step toward understanding, studying, and practicing the various methods used in political science and other social scientific research. When do we know what causes something to happen, and how sure are we about it? To find out we will explore the nature of probability. We will learn how to set up research questions,designing hypotheses and find the data needed to test them. And we will learn to read critically a variety of work in contemporary political science, from quantitative analysis to case studies. No mathematics background is required; we will deal with very basic statistical concepts. Still, the language and techniques used in this class are likely to be new to you and some of the ideas may seem non-intuitive. Keep an open mind and be persistent!
Janet B. Johnson and H.T. Reynolds, Political Science Research Methods, 5th ed. (CQ Press, 2005), shrink-wrapped with accompanying workbook (Working with Political Science Research Methods)
Darrell Huff, How to Lie with Statistics (Norton, 1993 )
Andrew Rudalevige, Managing the President's Program (Princeton, 2002)
Potentially Useful, but Optional, Books:
Greg Scott and Stephen Garrison, A Political Science Student Writer's Manual, 5th ed. (Prentice-Hall, 2006)Larry Gonick and Woollcott Smith, The Cartoon Guide to Statistics (HarperCollins, 1993)
Other readings will be distributed during the semester or made available via on-line links.
Grading will be based on four main factors: participation, quizzes, homework, and a take-home exam.
Participation (10%). Attendance and participation are expected at each class. Being engaged is more important than being right, given that some of the material will be quite unfamiliar. So effort and attitude count. Remember, we only meet once a week, so missing class can be costly. If at all possible, please inform me in advance of any absences.
Quizzes (5% each, totaling to 50%). There will be a quiz on the reading at the start of class most weeks. Quiz grades will be scaled to reflect relative performance. However, your lowest two grades will be dropped, leaving ten. No make up quizzes will be given except in cases of serious illness or emergency.
Homework (10%). There will be periodic assignments given, normally linked to the workbook and/or to articles or datasets that illustrate techniques or concepts we have gone over in class. In some cases you will be able to start the assignment in a lab session during class. In all cases you are responsible for turning in homework when it is due, and getting any new assignments, even if you should miss class.
Final Exam (30%). There will be a cumulative take-home final exam requiring you to analyze sections of exemplary articles and to create a research design. You will devise hypotheses that the design will test, couch them in a literature review, and sketch out the kind of data you would use in testing those hypotheses, drawing for instance on the Inter-university Consortium of Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan.
Schedule of Readings and Assignments [subject to change, with notice]
(*) - indicates on-line reserve available on Blackboard
I. Tools and Methods
January 24. Introduction and Overview: Is Political Science a Science?
Johnson and Reynolds, Ch. 1-2
January 31. Theories, Hypotheses, and Variables
Johnson and Reynolds, Ch. 4
Rudalevige, Ch. 1-2
Huff, Ch. 7-8
February 7. Literature Review and Research Design.
Johnson and Reynolds, pp. 49-53, 74-88; Ch. 5
Rudalevige, Ch. 3
February 14. Measurement and Operationalization
Johnson and Reynolds, Ch. 6
Rudalevige, Ch. 4
(*) U.S. News & World Report: America's Best Colleges 2007
recommended: (*) Michael Lewis, Moneyball (2003), pp. 21-41, 64-78
II. Data: Uses and Abuses
February 21. Measurement II: descriptive statistics, variance, and probability
Johnson and Reynolds, Ch. 11(read carefully except for pp. 329-35, which you can skim)
Huff, Ch. 2, 5-6
February 28. Sampling and Confidence Intervals
Johnson and Reynolds, Ch. 9 (and re-read pp. 329-35)
Huff, Ch. 1,3-4
March 7. Data Collection and Content Analysis
Johnson and Reynolds, Ch. 7-8
review Rudalevige, Ch. 4
ICPSR exercise (TBA)
March 14th : no class; enjoy spring break!
March 21. Elite Interviewing and Survey Research.
Johnson and Reynolds, Ch. 10
III. Approaches to Studying Political Phenomena
March 28. Quantitative Analysis: Bivariate
Johnson and Reynolds, Ch. 12
April 4-11. Quantitative Analysis: Multivariate and Non-Linear Approaches
Johnson and Reynolds, Ch. 13
Rudalevige, Ch. 5-7 (for April 11)
[April 12. Margaret Levi, past president of APSA, on campus.]
April 18. In the Field: Experiments and Case Studies
Johnson and Reynolds, Ch. 3 (pp. 50-74, 96-102); review Ch. 7
(*) John Gerring, "What is a Case Study and What is it Good For?" American Political Science Review 98 (May 2004).
April 25. The New Institutionalism: From History to Game Theory
Johnson and Reynolds, pp. 88-96
(*) Paul Pierson and Theda Skocpol, "Historical Institutionalism in Contemporary Political Science"
(*) Barry Weingast, "Rational Choice Institutionalism"
(*) Thomas Schelling, The Strategy of Conflict, Ch. 3
May 2. Bringing It All Back Home: Wrap-Up and Research Report
Johnson and Reynolds, Ch. 14
Huff, Ch. 10
Rudalevige, Ch. 8
May 15, 5 pm - Take Home Final Exam Due