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Writing a Research Paper in Political Science

Writing a Research Paper in Political Science
A Practical Guide to Inquiry, Structure, and Methods

Fourth Edition

December 2018 | 280 pages | CQ Press

Even students capable of writing excellent essays still find their first major political science research paper an intimidating experience. Crafting the right research question, finding good sources, properly summarizing them, operationalizing concepts and designing good tests for their hypotheses, presenting and analyzing quantitative as well as qualitative data are all tough-going without a great deal of guidance and encouragement. Writing a Research Paper in Political Science breaks down the research paper into its constituent parts and shows students what they need to do at each stage to successfully complete each component until the paper is finished. Practical summaries, recipes for success, worksheets, exercises, and a series of handy checklists make this a must-have supplement for any writing-intensive political science course.

New to the Fourth Edition:

  • A non-causal research paper woven throughout the text offers explicit advice to guide students through the research and writing process.     
  • Updated and more detailed discussions of plagiarism, paraphrases, "drop-ins," and "transcripts" help to prevent students from misusing sources in a constantly changing digital age.  
  • A more detailed discussion of “fake news” and disinformation shows students how to evaluate and choose high quality sources, as well as how to protect oneself from being fooled by bad sources.  
  • Additional guidance for writing abstracts and creating presentations helps students to understand the logic behind abstracts and prepares students for presentations in the classroom, at a conference, and beyond.  
  • A greater emphasis on the value of qualitative research provides students with additional instruction on how to do it.
CHAPTER 1: So You Have to Write a Research Paper
What Is a Research Paper? A Few Helpful Metaphors

What Research Paper Writing Entails

Blueprint of the Book

CHAPTER 2: Getting Started: Finding a Research Question
Characteristics of a Good Question

Practical Summary

Recipe 1: The Research Question


CHAPTER 3: Learning Proper Citation Forms, Finding the Scholarly Debate, and Summarizing and Classifying Arguments: The Annotated Bibliography
What Are Bibliographies, and Why Do We Bother With Them?

Plagiarism versus Paraphrasing and Avoiding Drop-Ins and Transcripts, Too

Annotating the Bibliography

Identifying the Key Conceptual Issues

Searching for Sources

Identifying Similar Arguments and Grouping Your Sources

One Last Word of Advice: Generic Schools of Thought

Writing the Annotated Bibliography

Practical Summary

Recipe 2: The Annotated Bibliography


CHAPTER 4: Making Sense of the Scholarly Answers to Your Research Question: Writing the Literature Review
Preparing for and Understanding the Literature Review

The Fundamentals of the Literature Review

Writing the Literature Review

Practical Summary

Recipe 3: Literature Review


CHAPTER 5: Effectively Distilling Your Argument: The Thesis, Model, and Hypothesis
The Thesis

The Model

The Hypothesis

Applying These Insights

Practical Summary

Recipe 4: Thesis or Model and Hypothesis Section


CHAPTER 6: Revising and Editing Your Work: The Research-Writing-Thinking Spiral
Practical Summary

Recipe 5: Revising and Editing


CHAPTER 7: Making Your Plan and Protecting Yourself from Criticism: The Research Design
Research Design: The Courtroom and Medical Science Analogies

Writing the Research Design, Focusing on Hypothesis-Driven Research

The Research Design: Two Examples

Practical Summary

Recipe 6: Research Design


CHAPTER 8: Evaluating the Argument: The Analysis and Assessment Section
Qualitative Analysis

Mixed (Qualitative and Quantitative) Analysis

Quantitative and Statistical Analysis

Practical Summary

Recipe 7: Analysis and Assessment


CHAPTER 9: Bringing the Paper Together in Essential Ways: The Conclusion, Introduction, Title, Abstract, and the Utility of a Presentation
Considering the Significance and Limitations of Your Findings: The Conclusion

Writing a Good Introduction

A Last Element in Attracting Readers: Developing an Appealing Title

Almost Done: Writing an Abstract and Giving a Presentation

Are You Done? The Joy (and Continued Responsibilities) of Finalizing Your Draft

Practical Summary

Recipe 8: Conclusion, Introduction, Title, and Abstract



Writing a Research Paper in Political Science is a helpful research and writing guide for students from various disciplines and undergraduate levels.”

Dorian Brown Crosby
Spelman College

“Lisa A. Baglione’s book is a highly accessible resource to help undergraduate students transition from writing about politics to writing about empirical political science research.” 

Ashlie B. Delshad
West Chester University of Pennsylvania

“With clarity and compassion, Lisa A. Baglione leads undergraduates step by step through the morass of empirical research.” 

William M. Flanik
Colorado Mesa University

Writing a Research Paper in Political Science is an essential text for every political science major.” 

Steve B. Lem
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

This is an engaging and well written book that seems geared to the level of the course - students writing their senior capstones.

Dr Andrew Bryan Dzeguze
Politics and International Affairs, Northern Arizona University
January 14, 2020

Excellent, in-depth review of how to do a research paper. Perfect for learning objectives of my course.

Dr Ronald Ahnen
Political Science, Saint Marys Clg Of California
March 24, 2020

too focused on political science, not a good fit for urban planning.

Mr Gwen Urey
Urban/Regional Planning Dept, Cal State Polytechnic-Pomona
August 8, 2019