This course aims to introduce students to research design and data analysis as practiced by political scientists. The topics covered include causality and the design of research studies (including experiments and observational studies) and basic applied data analysis. Students who are thinking about writing an Honors Thesis are especially encouraged to enroll.
This is not a course that focuses primarily on statistics, and important topics such as probability and linear models will only be covered in passing if at all. Rather, we will be focusing on developing the conceptual tools necessary to design and assess empirical research studies, and on developing the technical and computer skills necessary to work with quantitative data.
By the end of this class I hope that you will have learned: (1) how to ask a focused research question; (2) how to design a measurement strategy for important concepts embedded within your research question; (3) how to design a research study to answer your question; (4) how to present the results of your research study using simple and appropriate techniques; and (5) how to write about your tables and graphs in a simple and persuasive manner.
At the end of this course you will turn in a research design that has the potential to uncover new information about a topic that you care about. Throughout the course there will be small assignments that lead you through the process of creating such a research design. There will also be assignments that will give you practice working with the kinds of data that you are apt to generate from your research design.
To apply to enroll in this course you must submit (1) an unofficial transcript, (2) your year in the program, (3) your major and (4) whether or not you intend to apply to the Honors program in the department of political science. In addition, and most importantly, you should write one paragraph describing the topic of an honors thesis that you'd like to write if you were to gain admission to the honors program. In this paragraph, you should say what you plan to do in the thesis and explain the intellectual merit of your topic and plan. Do NOT explain why you personally chose the topic that you are proposing. (This paragraph does not commit you to this thesis topic.)