FINAL RESEARCH PAPERS GUIDELINES Please first read the syllabus. All deadlines are

FINAL RESEARCH PAPERS GUIDELINES
Please first read the syllabus. All deadlines are posted on syllabus.
BE proud of every step of the way of your research! A well-tuned research question, rigorous reading and record keeping (organization), generating a detailed outline are the key to smooth writing process.
These are individual research projects. Your papers will be graded on the clarity of your argument, quality of research, use of evidence, and demonstration of understanding of the political science and comparative politics terminology and tools of analysis. These are not descriptive reports, or history papers. They should be explanations of a puzzling question.
State your research question clearly and IMMEDIATELY on the first paragraph.
Provide a roadmap about what this paper is about, in what order you will explain. I strongly urge you again to submit an outline and a draft. Make sure you frame all your arguments clearly. Make only promises you can keep.
Use simple, direct language. Less is more. Avoid jargon, such as “it is evident that” “it is obvious that”.
You may want to check out recent academic journals, book reviews, or recent books bibliographies as a good place to start.
Your literature review should be about works in the literature that really connect with your specific research question. It should not just merely talk about the research carried in this field but how these works relate to each other, what questions they answer, or fail to answer. This is the first step to understand how you can answer your research question. When you read good scholarly articles, question what makes them “good, imitate their structure and writing style.”
Everything that goes into your research paper, should be with the purpose of answering your research question. If it is not a part of the answer, then it does NOT belong in the paper.
Avoid redundancy. Make one argument, finish that argument. Use all your evidence about that argument. Be done with it.
You can use quotes, charts, graphs, tables. However, the paper should NOT be filled with quotes. The quotes should be used only if the information CANNOT be paraphrased. Ideally, you are supposed to read a paper, book, op-ed, then use the ideas with your own words to support your arguments. Always make sure to make ALL NECESSARY references. Please see the syllabus for plagiarism warnings. Please talk to me or your advisor if you have any questions about the rules.
Make sure all your arguments are logical and consistent. You have to situate your research within the comparative politics field. Where does your work fall? Make proper references to the theories we have studied, or other relevant theories if you see necessary. How do they help your analyses? You must utilize the tools we have discussed in class knowledgably. This is your final project for the class, show that you have learnt the basic tools of the discipline. I understand different backgrounds, and will accommodate your discipline/major while designing your research question.
Your arguments should be clear. If I cannot understand what you are saying it does not add up. Make sure you define the terms you apply. If you make a reference to the “WEST” in your research question, you must tell me which countries are included in this “WESTERN WORLD”, in some cases, Israel might be in there, in some India. However, you define a concept or a term stick to it throughout the paper, or make note of all exceptions. I can only grade what I see on the paper. Even if I know that you know, I cannot grade what is not WRITTEN ON THE PAPER.
Make a strong conclusion. The conclusion must have a brief summary of what you had found in your research, as well as a brief reference to where the future research lays.
Proofreading. May be the most painstaking part of writing. It is a MUST. If possible exchange papers with a classmate, review each other’s arguments, and ask questions. BE CRITICAL.
And Style Counts! Spelling mistakes as well as errors of syntax and grammar are unacceptable. At best they are evidence of sloppy work. At worst they make your argument impossible to understand. While style does not replace substance, a poorly written or organized paper makes it difficult to get to your argument. I encourage you to consult the CalPoly Pomona’s Writing Center.
There are also a number of excellent guides on the web that I encourage you to consult about how you could go about writing an analytical research paper. Some good sites include:
How to Research a Political Science Paper, by Peter Liberman: http://qcpages.qc.edu/Political_Science/researching.html
Writing Political Science Papers: Some Useful Guidelines, by Peter Liberman,: http://qcpages.qc.edu/Political_Science/tips.html
Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students, by Patrick Rael: http://www.bowdoin.edu/writing-guides/
Writing a Research Paper, by Sarah Hamid: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/workshops/hypertext/ResearchW/index.html
An accurate summary of some things not to do, which (unfortunately) students commonly do, can be found at Advice on How to Write a Bad Paper.
Yes, double space. Since we are grading online, I will be writing lots of notes on the paper. On average the paper should be about 20 pages with bibliography, charts and figures. But again, it is not the page length but the strength of your arguments that make good research.
HOW DO I DO IT?
Ask yourself what interests you most? What are you curious about?
Start from the text book – if you are interested in Iran, finish the chapter. Look at the bibliography about Iran, start making interlibrary loan requests. Talk to me?
Make an outline. Write your question as a WHY or HOW question at the top of the outline. How questions trace process. For example, how did civil war end – this is a different question than why did civil war end? In the why question you are listing the most important reasons to answer. In the how question you are tracing process, like giving a recipe. This may be most important part of your research design –ASK the right question –meaning think about it for a bit.
If you are asking a why question, write down all possible reasons –even before you start your research. What could be the possible causes? If you are answering a how question write down the process as much as you can gauge. For ex. if you are writing about the civil war process you may want to start looking at the relations of foreign powers of the country’s elites or ruling family/class. These are in a sense your hypothesis to be tested.
Once you have your first outline, it is time to start your reading your research. First skim through, identify the ones specifically providing you the information you need, then start taking notes and filling in different sections of your outline. Remember the outline may change as well.
A good introduction has: the clearly stated research question, your dependent and independent variables and a roadmap of your paper.
Conclusion and introduction are probably the last paragraphs to write.
You can use any citation style that you choose, please be consistent and make sure to cite EVERYTHING.
Extra credit is possible if you read and comments on your classmates’ work and/or if you share yours for feedback.