The US Congress
Research Paper Assignments
Your assignment is to write an original research paper on a topic related to the themes of this course. In essence, you are writing a brief scholarly journal article. So, the many journal articles we read in this course are excellent examples to follow. You will engage in all steps of the research process:
- Pose a research question of interest to you.
- Develop a testable hypothesis to address your research question that proposes a relationship between two or more variables.
- Create a literature review: a discussion of the relevant scholarly literature on your topic of interest.
- Identify and operationalize independent and dependent variables.
- Collect and analyze data to test your hypothesis.
- Report your findings.
- Discuss conclusions.
You will develop your research paper using an iterative process of three assignments that builds toward the final research paper.
Assignment #1: Research Paper Proposal – Due September 17 at the beginning of class (30% of your grade)
à Before you write up your proposal, you are required to meet with me to discuss your research topic.
IMPORTANT: Before you attempt to develop your own hypothesis, you MUST read the research of other scholars who have worked on the same topic. So, it is crucial that your read at least the five required scholarly sources for Assignment #1 BEFORE attempting to do the assignment.
To ensure that everyone is working on appropriate topics and is on the right track, turn in a proposal outlining your research paper on September 17 Include the following elements in your proposal:
- At least one paragraph describing your topic and the research question you aim to address.
- Propose a testable hypothesis – basically an answer to your research question, a guess about the way the world works. Your hypothesis must identify the relationship between your dependent and independent variables. Be as specific as possible.
See these very helpful guides about research papers and hypothesis testing:
https://politicalscienceguide.com/what-is-research/ (you may have to copy and paste this one) http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/qmss/hypothesis_testing/about_hypothesis_testing.html
- Annotated Bibliography or preliminary scholarly sources: discuss at least five (5) relevant scholarly journal articles, books or book chapters related to your topic that helped you formulate your research question and hypothesis. Properly cite each source and include a paragraph that identifies the hypothesis and findings of the author(s)’s work and explains how your proposed hypothesis relates to what the author(s) has said about the topic (do NOT merely cut and paste the abstract of the work). This is the preliminary work for developing the literature review for your research paper (see next assignment). You will eventually need at least 10 scholarly sources, so feel free to include more sources in this assignment.
See these helpful sites about writing an annotated bibliography:
- Discuss any ideas you have about what data you may use to operationalize (measure) your independent and dependent variables and where you will find those data.