Dr. Sara McLaughlin Mitchell

Fall 1999

Research Methods in Political Science

POS 3713

Course Description

This course is designed to acquaint students with research methods used by social scientists. Students will study terms and concepts used in research (e.g., theories, null and alternative hypotheses, independent and dependent variables, validity, reliability, generalizability), and research design (including experimental and quasi-experimental designs, survey design, and sampling). Students will be introduced to basic statistical techniques for analyzing data and the interpretation of coefficients and statistical tests (frequency distributions, measures of central tendency, measures of association, spurious correlation, regression, confidence intervals and tests of significance).


Course Requirements

The best way to learn this material is to have read the assigned readings BEFORE the class date in which they are discussed. This will enable you to be familiar with the new concepts as I discuss them in lecture and for you to ask questions. I expect this class to be quite relaxed, so jump in and ask questions or make remarks at anytime. There is NO such thing as a stupid question.

Your course grade is based on your performance on 3 exams and several homework assignments. The distribution of your final grade in the class is as follows:

Midterm Exam 1 25%

Midterm Exam 2 25%

Final Exam 25%

Homework 25%


1. Homework (25%): There are a total of 5 homework assignments (see class schedule); you can drop your lowest grade. Assignments turned in late will not be accepted under any circumstances. I will automatically count a late or missing homework as your lowest grade.

2. Midterm Exams (50%): There are two midterm exams scheduled on Thursday, October 7th and Thursday, November 4th. The problems on exams will be very similar to those assigned as homework. They will include problem solving, short answer, and multiple choice.

3. Final Exam (25%): The final exam is on Monday, December 13th. This exam is not comprehensive.


Textbooks and Required Materials

Manheim, Jarol B. and Richard C. Rich. 1995. Empirical Political Analysis: Research Methods in Political Science (4th Edition). New York: Longman Publishing Group.

Healey, Joseph F. 1999. Statistics: A Tool for Social Research (5th Edition). Belmont, CA:

Wadsworth Publishing Company.


Class Schedule

Tuesday, August 31st Introduction: M&R, Chapter 1

The Scientific Method

Thursday, September 2nd No Class, APSA

Tuesday, September 7th Introduction: M&R, Chapter 1

The Scientific Method

Thursday, September 9th Theory Building M&R, Chapter 2

Tuesday, September 14th Building a Bibliography M&R, Chapter 3

Thursday, September 16th Research Designs: M&R, Chapters 5 & 6

Experiments and Sampling

Hand out Assignment #1

Tuesday, September 21st Research Designs: M&R, Chapter 7

Survey Research

Assignment #1 Due

Thursday, September 23rd Research Designs M&R, Chapters 8 & 11

Interviewing and Direct Observation

Tuesday, September 28th Operationalization & M&R, Chapters 4 & 12


Thursday, September 30th Operationalization & M&R, Chapter 14

Measurement Healey, Chapter 1

Hand out Assignment #2

Tuesday, October 5th Basic Descriptive Statistics Healey, Chapter 2

Assignment #2 Due M&R, Chapter 15

Thursday, October 7th Midterm Exam #1

Tuesday, October 12th Measures of Central Tendency Healey, Chapter 3

Thursday, October 14th Measures of Dispersion Healey, Chapter 4

Tuesday, October 19th Normal Curve Healey, Chapter 5

Thursday, October 21st Sampling Healey, Chapter 6

Hand out Assignment #3

Tuesday, October 26th Confidence Intervals Healey, Chapter 7

Assignment #3 Due

Thursday, October 28th Hypothesis Testing: The Healey, Chapter 8

One Sample Case

Tuesday, November 2nd Hypothesis Testing: The Healey, Chapter 8 (continued) One Sample Case

Thursday, November 4th Midterm Exam #2

Tuesday, November 9th Analysis of Variance Healey, Chapter 10

Hand out Assignment #4

Thursday November 11th No Class, Veteran's Day

Tuesday, November 16th Measures of association: Healey, Chapter 16 interval variables

Assignment #4 Due

Thursday November 18th Regression Healey, Chapter 18

Tuesday, November 23rd Regression Healey, Chapter 18 (continued)

Thursday November 25th No Class, Thanksgiving Holiday

Tuesday, November 30th Statistics for nominal and M&R, Chapter 17 ordinal data Healey, Chapter 13

Hand out Assignment #5

Thursday December 2nd Statistics for nominal and Healey, Chapters 14 & 15 ordinal data

Assignment #5 Due

Tuesday, December 7th Chi-Square Healey, Chapters 11 & 12

Thursday, December 9th Review for Final

Monday, December 13th Final Exam, 5:30-7:30pm, 220A Bellamy