Govt. 270 Paper Assignment Sheet


This paper assignment is designed to get you primed for the topic selection and literature search process involved in a thesis. It will operate as an opportunity to delve into the literature on your chosen topic and to fashion a research question that is unique. Your topic must of course be derived from subjects covered in this course, but should go beyond the readings assigned.

The paper should be 15 pages - or slighly more if needed (not including bibliography), in 12 point Times New Roman font or similar. Please also attach a title page. You should use at least 10 sources outside the course readings. The paper is due on May 13.

Step 1: Select a topic. Itís usually helpful to think in terms of a question to be answered, such as What are the effects of negative campaign advertisements on voter turnout? Question ideas might come from discussions during seminar, questions that arose in your own mind while doing the readings, or from the questions you included in each weekly paper.

Step 2: Begin collecting and reading some of the literature relevant to your topic. Your sources should primarily be academic, though some journalistic approaches might be appropriate as well. Academic books can be found at the library on campus or at the UC Davis library. The following journals are available at the CSUS library either in print form or in electronic form. Any of them might contain relevant articles.

American Political Science Review, British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Midwest Journal of Political Science, Political Science Quarterly, Public Opinion Quarterly, Western Political Quarterly, American Journal of Political Science, Political Behavior, Legislative Studies Quarterly, PS: Political Science and Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Proceedings of the American Political Science Association, Women and Politics, Political Psychology, Political Communication

Step 3: Compose your thesis. Itís often more productive to wait until youíve delved into the literature to come up with your own thesis statement. It should basically be an answer to the question from step 1. It should identify some pattern or causal mechanism or exception to a given rule, etc. You can also think of this as a hypothesis to be evaluated.

Step 4: Make an outline. This helps you to organize your thoughts, and can be used as a guide for the headings in the body of your paper.

Step 5: Write. Build the case for your thesis using evidence from the literature. Though you are not expected to conduct any original research or perform any statistical analysis for this class, you may wish to evaluate your hypothesis using existing research or opinion polls. For polling data try: If secondary evidence is scant, you may outline the sort of prospective data collection or method that could be used to evaluate your hypothesis. (If you had sufficient time and resources, what might you do to answer the question?)

Step 6: Edit. After writing your draft, let it sit for a few days and come back to it with fresh eyes and make sure itís spell checked, the citations are correct and done in the right style, the organization is clear, etc.

Citations: Use APSA rules Ė similar to that used in the readings.

According to the APSA rules, you must include parenthetical citations within your paper in order to indicate the source of a quotation or idea (if it is not your own). In the most basic sense, you must insert the name of the author(s) and the year of publication in parentheses following the quote or idea. If you are using a direct quote, a page number might be needed. For example: . . . "the transmogrifying of mayoral power" (Bailey 1987, 85). [n.b. the punctuation here--the parentheses come immediately after the quotation and before the final period that closes out the sentence; there is no comma between the author's name and the date; a comma separates the year from the page number; p. and pp. are not used.]

When you are citing a work by two or three authors, include all of their names in each citation: (Kelly, Colter, and Lane 1980)

When you are citing a work by four or more authors, use only the first author's name and "et al." in all citations, including the first:

(Angel et al. 1986)

If you must refer to more than one source in a single citation, arrange the citations in alphabetical order by first author, rather than in chronological order. Separate the items with semicolons:

(Confucius 1951; Gurdjieff 1950; Wanisaburo 1926)

If you are citing more than one work by the same author published in the same year, assign a lowercase letter to the year of publication (in alphabetical order by title), and use the same letters in the reference list:

(Frankly 1957a, 1957b)

The References page will go at the end of the paper. The style is as follows:

Aldrich, John H.  1980.  "A Dynamic Model of Presidential Nomination Campaigns."  American Political Science
Review 74:651-69.


Sorauf, Frank J., and Paul Allen Beck. 1988. Party Politics in America. 6th ed. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman.