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PS 3:  Research Methods in Political Science

Spring 2006

Tu-Th 8-9:30

2040 Valley Life Sciences Building

Henry E. Brady

Survey Research Center

2538 Channing Way (corner of Bowditch and Channing)

Office Hours:  Tuesday:  2:15-4:15


This course provides an introduction to the methods political scientists use to answer questions about politics.  After learning about the basic difficulties involved in making descriptive and causal inferences about politics, we will examine four basic research strategies:  experimentation, large N or quantitative studies (also known as statistics), small N studies that use qualitative reasoning, and formal modeling (also known as mathematical modeling).  

The goals of the course are to:

Provide students with the analytic tools to critically evaluate social science research and causal arguments found in everyday life, and

Improve students’ abilities to pose and answer research questions on their own.  

The course grade will be based on an in-class midterm, a comprehensive final examination, five homework assignments, and participation in discussion sessions.  The course grade will be determined as follows:

Midterm 25%

Final Exam 35%

Homework 30%

Discussion Section 10%

The homework assignments will be handed out in lecture 12-14 days in advance of their due dates.  Assignments are due at the beginning of lecture on their due dates.  Late work will be penalized 10% per late day or portion thereof, and will not be graded if turned in after 5pm on the Friday the week they were due.  Extensions will not be granted without proof of a legitimate medical or personal reason.

Cooperation on the homework and reading is encouraged.  However, the work you turn in must be your own.  Plagiarism will not be tolerated.  

This course requires the purchase of a course packet that is available at Copy Central, located at 2560 Bancroft Way (across Bancroft from Barrows Hall and the Heart Gym).

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