Research Paper Final
The final assignment is a 5-page research paper in which students will present and assert a thesis and then test that thesis via research methods. Five pages is not a lot of space to do this, so students should be proactive in planning, drafting, and revising their papers. I recommend spending at least a month writing this. And please remember – I am always happy to help during office hours. Don’t be a stranger!
The research paper will consist of the following components:
An introduction in which students present the topic of the paper, quickly address why it is important and should researched, and then lay out the theory that students propose.
A short background of the topic and the research that has been done on it. Students should actively search for the 2 to 3 major theoretical arguments or studies that have driven research on this topic in the past.
A thesis section in which students propose an argument or a causal relationship. Students should be able to clearly link causes to effects. Why is the theory presented valid? What evidence would one have to muster in order to prove it?
An empirical section in which students describe the data that students use to test the theory, as well as the method. This section should also include the results of the tests, and findings. It is perfectly okay if the theory is not supported by the tests! That’s what doing science is all about.
A conclusion in which students detail the implications of the research. Focus on policymakers. How would they read and use the research paper to improve their policy suggestions?
Arguing that the institutions of countries that were aligned with the Soviet Union in the Cold War were more fragile because they were centralized, and thus led to weaker states.
Arguing that the United States of America is becoming a weak state.
Arguing that the number of warlords in a country affects how fragile a country is.
Testing an argument
This assignment requires students to not just generate an argument, but to test that argument using data. But what do I mean by data? Data are just information that students can rigorously test to better understanding relationships in the world. So, what kind of data do I expect students to test?
Quantitative. Plenty of data are easily available to test using data visualization, descriptive statistics such as cross-tabs, simple statistics such as T-tests, or more advanced statistics like linear or non-linear regressions.
Qualitative. Other students may prefer to conduct qualitative research, such as interviews, that is fine as well. For example, perhaps students have a theory about why social trust is growing in Sweden and diminishing in the United States. Students could conduct an interview with an academic familiar with Sweden and an academic familiar with the United States, and ask them specifically about the relationship students propose. Case studies work well here!
Writing Research Papers
Here are some helpful guides for doing this:
The Writing Center at UNC (連結到外部網站。)
OWL at Purdue University (連結到外部網站。)
University of Wisconsin-Madison (連結到外部網站。)
All written assignments should be single-spaced with 1” margins on all sides. Please use font size 12 Times New Roman. Paragraphs should be block-justified and hyphenated. Do not indent the first line of each paragraph. Paragraph spacing should be 0-points before and 6-points after. Using headings and subheadings to organize your document. Please follow styling and cite all references using APA style (連結到外部網站。).
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