PLSC 485a/663a

Research Paper Instructions

The research paper for this course is to be handed on or before May 11. However, students will present their papers in class beginning on May 1, so you must have done sufficient research before then to support a 15 minute presentation on your topic. There is not fixed page length for these papers, but a good target is roughly 10 pages of 1.5 spaced 10 point font. You must receive my approval for your paper topic, and I would like to see a paragraph describing your paper by March 28.

Suggested topics:

Research the history of a specific political party. Use the readings assigned for the course to guide a discussion of the origins, structure, and social base of that party.

Analyze the party system of a country of your choosing. What groups support each party? How does the electoral system of the country affect the party system? Do the readings for the course help to explain why the party system is configured the way it is?

Read the newspaper coverage of the Republican and Democratic primaries. Do the candidates appear to behave as rational vote maximizers? What things have they done that suggest they are out to maximize votes? What things have they done which might have cost them votes?

Choose a class reading (from before 1980) and look up which journal articles have cited that piece of research recently. (You can use the Social Science Citation index in the Library) Which of the ideas in the piece are most often referred to by recent research? Which ideas seem to have been forgotten, or fallen by the wayside? Do the authors agree on the interpretation of this reading?

Choose a class reading from after 1980. Read about six of the articles or books which the author(s) cite in their piece. Do the older works really say what the recent authors think they do? Have the arguments been misunderstood or misinterpreted?

Research the financing of political parties in the US. What do you think are the effects of our system of campaign finance? What reforms have been recently suggested? Do you think these reforms are a good or bad idea, and why?

Custom Topic: Choose your own topic involving readings from the course and some new research outside of the course materials. Be sure to get my approval for your topic.