PSCI 350: Research Methods and Design

Fall Semester, 2012

MWF, 12:00-12:50 in Kauke 243 (and sometimes in Kauke 143)



Professor:                    Matthew Krain (x2469,, Kauke 104

                                    Office Hours: Mondays 3-4pm; Wednesdays 1-2pm; Fridays 10-11am, and by appointment




The course is structured to equip students with tools for completing empirical research in political science. We will read, discuss, and analyze descriptions and applications of the logic and methods of the social sciences. Along the way, students will identify an empirically testable research question of interest to them with the discipline of political science, situate it within the academic literature, construct a theoretical argument and a testable hypothesis, and develop a research design to test that hypothesis. The ultimate goal of the course is to prepare students for their Senior Independent Study Thesis experience by grounding them in the logic and methods of socio-political inquiry, and by enabling them to master these skills themselves. NOTE: This course serves as both the methodology requirement and the Junior Independent Study requirement for students within the Department of Political Science.



In this class, you will learn to:

- Create social science research questions and construct testable hypotheses.

- Identify concepts and approaches that pertain to a given research question.

- Define and identify independent and dependent variables in research.

- Conduct a literature search of previous literature and assess and review that literature.

- Choose a research design appropriate to your own, well-formed, research question.

- Identify key components of and critique various research methods strategies.

- Evaluate and choose appropriate measures of variables.

- Design and critique instruments and sampling choices used in research.

- Conduct and interpret basic statistical analyses.



We will be using the following books throughout the semester:


- Johnson, Janet Buttolph and H. T. Reynolds. 2012. Political Science Research Methods. 7th Edition. Washington, DC: CQ Press. (ISBN: 978-1608716890)


- Lipson, Charles. 2005. How to Write a BA Thesis: A Practical Guide from Your First Ideas to Your Finished Paper. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (ISBN: 978-0226481265)


- American Political Science Association (2006). Style Manual for Political Science. Washington, DC: American Political Science Association.


Additional readings will be the World-Wide-Web, via our class web page, at:, or will be placed on electronic reserve, accessible at: (password = "methods"). All readings MUST be completed by the class session for which they are assigned. They will be necessary background for class, and you will be held responsible for them, both in class and on assignments and exams.



The grades will be assigned as follows:

- 20% = Midterm (Exam #1)

- 25% = Final (Exam #2)

- 25% = Research Proposal Paper

- 20% = Quizzes, Problems Sets, and other Homework Assignments

- 10% = Professionalism                          


Examinations (45% of overall grade)

There will be two formal examinations over the course of the semester. The Midterm (Exam #1), worth 20% of your overall class grade, will be held in class on September 28th. The Final (Exam #2), worth 25% of your overall class grade, will be given on the day and at the time stipulated by the Registrar, Wednesday, December 12th, at 7pm.


Research Proposal Paper (25% of overall grade)

Each student will be responsible for a significant paper – the Research Proposal Paper – due at the beginning of class on November 14th. This paper provides students with an opportunity to more closely explore one research question in particular, review the relevant literature, develop a theoretical framework, derive hypotheses, and design a study that would test these hypotheses. Each student will choose his or her topic in consultation with the instructor. Possible topics will be discussed in class. Further details will be distributed on the second day of class and will be discussed by the instructor in class. This assignment is designed to test students' abilities to apply the writing, methods and design skills in a practical manner to a research question of their own. The goal is to develop and hone the skills of the students to design doable research projects, including their Senior Independent Study Projects. This project is worth 25% of your overall class grade.


Quizzes, Problem Sets, and Other Homework Assignments  (20% of overall grade)

There will be several homework assignments given throughout the semester. Some will involve analysis of published research. Some will require students to collect or analyze data. Others will involve exercises culled from the texts or from outside sources. Students will also, from time to time, be given problem sets involving calculations and analysis of quantitative material. Furthermore, at the discretion of the instructor, the class will complete in-class "pop" quizzes. Quizzes may cover all material from the text, lectures, class discussions, and homework assignments. The sum of these homework assignments, problem sets, and quizzes will total 20% of the overall grade for the class.


Professionalism (10% of overall grade)

"Professionalism" refers to factors such as attendance, promptness, degree of preparedness, participation, courtesy, overall improvement, and other intangibles, to be evaluated and assigned at the discretion of the instructor. This component is worth 10% of your overall course grade. Please note that participation is encouraged and required. Due to the short period of time we will have in which to cover a great deal of material, your input and feedback is essential to the smooth and efficient running of the class. To that end, be sure to have read the materials pertaining to that day's class BEFORE that class period! Discussion may have to be curtailed, however, in the interests of covering the material.



Note #1: Please turn off cell phones and other electronic devices before class begins as a courtesy to others. If you bring a laptop computer or tablet to class, it should be used for note taking or examining class readings only. Please also refrain from recording any part of the course in any manner other than via written or typed class notes, unless explicitly approved by the instructor.


Note #2: Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the due date. Any missed assignment or unexcused exam absence is subject to an automatic failing grade for the course (in other words, you cannot pass the class unless you do all of the work!). Late written assignments will be graded down one full letter grade for each day late. A paper handed in five minutes after the deadline is considered a day late. If you anticipate missing an exam or a paper deadline, consult with the instructor as soon as possible.


Note #3: Students are encouraged to study together and assist one another in learning the material. It is assumed that you have done your own work, and that you conduct yourself according to the expectations laid out in the Wooster Ethic and the Code of Academic Integrity, as enumerated in the Scot's Key ( Students are reminded that they are obliged to understand, to uphold, and to comply with the Code of Academic Integrity and the Wooster Ethic at the College of Wooster. Students who have questions or concerns about these policies (after having read them again) should make an appointment to see me to discuss them; indeed, I welcome this discussion and encourage students to see me in advance of any assignment about which they have doubts or questions. PLEASE NOTE THAT ANY VIOLATION OF THE WOOSTER ETHIC AND/OR THE CODE OF ACADEMIC INTEGRITY MEANS THE STUDENT'S IMMEDIATE FAILURE IN THE COURSE, AS WELL AS POSSIBLE SUBSEQUENT ACADEMIC DISCIPLINARY ACTION.


Note #4: Students are encouraged to discuss assignments with me during office hours. However, students seeking to change their grade on an assignment or essay portion of an exam should be advised that I reserve the right to alter your grade in either direction (i.e.- if new problems are found during the re-grade the grade would go down).


Note #5: I am happy to assist you in any way, but cannot do so retroactively. Thus, it is your responsibility to inform me ahead of time about factors that are likely to interfere with your performance in the class. Measures for students with disabilities, non-native writers of English and other special issues will be taken in compliance with the college's policies.








8/27: Introduction to "Research Methods and Design (in Political Science)"

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012) [Ch. 1]

- The College of Wooster (2012) [pp. 60-64]

- Department of Political Science (2012) [Skim]


8/29: What is Political "Science"?

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 2]


8/31: NO CLASS: Dr. Krain at American Political Science Association (APSA) Conference


9/3: Early Planning of the Research Process: Where Do I Start? (Research Question) What's My Short-Term Goal? (Proposal) …Semester Goal? (Junior IS) …Long-Term Goal? (Senior IS)

- Lipson (2005) [Ch's 2, 4, 5; Skim Ch's 14, 16 & 19]                  

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 3, pp. 74-81]

- Bremer (2008) [pp. 5-7]

- Louderback (2009) [pp. 1-3]


9/5: The Importance of Theories, Assumptions and Concepts

- Lipson (2005) [Ch. 7]                  

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Review Ch. 2, pp. 43-46]

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 4, pp. 119-123]

- Louderback (2009) [pp. 4-19]


9/7: What is a "Literature Review"? Why Should I Conduct One? How Do I Write One?

- Knopf (2006)

- Baglione (2012) [Ch. 4]

- Study and Learning Centre (2011)

- Palmer & Simon (2005) [pp. 39-47]


9/10, 9/12: Variables, Hypotheses and Relationships

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 4, pp. 102-119]

- Baglione (2012) [Ch. 5]

- Louderback (2009) [Review pp. 15-19, read pp. 20-21]


9/14, 9/17: Operationalization: From Conceptualization to Measurement

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 5]

- Bremer (2008) [pp. 27-35]

- Louderback (2009) [pp. 20-25]

- Palmer & Simon (2005) [pp. 47-48]


9/19, 9/21: Research Design: The Logic of Experimental & Quasi-Experimental Designs

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 6, pp. 165-194]

- Druckman and Lupia (2012) [article + podcast]

- Ansolabehere, Iyengar, Simon & Valentino (1994)


9/24: Observation and Non-Experimental Designs

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 6, pp. 194-207]

- Hancock & Algozzine (2006) [pp. 15-16; 31-34; 56-59]

- van Evera (1997)


9/26: MIDTERM (EXAM #1)


9/28: Discussion of Research Proposal Paper; Exam Debriefing

- Hancock & Algozzine (2006) [pp. 56-59; Table E1]

- Lipson (2005) [skim Ch's 8-11 as you write Research Proposal Paper]


10/1: Becoming a More Effective Researcher: Finding and Referencing Sources

- Baglione (2012) [Ch. 3]

- Lipson (2005) [Ch. 3]

- The College of Wooster (2010) [Review pp. 60-64]

- American Political Science Association (2006) [Skim]

- "Unethical Use of Source Material: (Un)Professional Examples" (2 HANDOUTS)




10/3, 10/5: Determining What to Observe / The Logic of Sampling

-   Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 7]

-   Babbie (1998) [Ch. 5, pp. 65-75, 80-93]

-   Seife (2010) [Ch. 4, pp. 103-111]

-   Sides (2011)


10/8: Survey Research

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012) [Ch. 10, pp. 306-341]

- Babbie (1998) [Ch. 7, pp. 127-145]         

- Seife (2010) [Ch. 4, pp. 91-98, 111-123]


10/10, 10/12: Interviewing

Guest Instructor: Dr. Boubacar N'Diaye (10/12)

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 10, pp. 341-347]

- Hancock & Algozzine (2006) [pp. 39-45]

- Leech (2002)

- Goldstein (2002)

- Woliver, (2002)

- Berry (2002)

- Swinton (2012) [Read pp. 4-6; 41-54; 122-123; Skim pp. 55-74]




10/17: Research Ethics Regarding Human Subjects

- Human Subjects Research Committee (2012)

[review the policy, expedited review form, and sample consent form]


10/19: Case Study Techniques – Making the Most of a Single Case

Guest Instructor: Dr. Eric Moskowitz

- Lipson (2005) [Ch. 6]

- Hancock & Algozzine (2006) [pp. 61-64]

- Moskowitz (1987)


10/22, 10/24: Case Study Techniques – Comparative Case Studies

Guest Instructor: Dr. Jeffrey Lantis (10/22)

- Kaarbo & Beasley (1999)

- Sandholtz (2008)

- Louderback (2009) [pp. 25-29; 30-41; 67-76]

- Swinton (2012) [Review pp. 4-6; 55-74; Read pp. 107-115]


10/26: Content Analysis

Guest Instructor: Dr. Kent Kille

-   Johnson & Reynolds (2012) [Ch. 9, pp. 292-299]

-   Insch, Moore & Murphy (1997)

-   Segal & Cover (1989) [pp. 557-561]


10/29: Archival Research

Guest Instructor: Dr. Michele Leiby

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 9, pp. 278-292; 299-303]


10/31: Qualitative Research Lab


11/2: Descriptive Statistics

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 11]

- Lipson (2005) [Ch. 12]


11/5: Introduction to Inferential Statistics

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 12]

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 7, review pp. 240-253]


11/7, 11/9: Foundations of Statistical Inference: Sample Means; Significance; Confidence Intervals

- Sanocki (2001) [Ch. 5]

- Seife (2010) [Ch. 4, pp. 98-103 & Appendix A]

- Silver (2010)

- Paulos (1995)

- Day (2006) [pp. 40-43]


11/12: Standard Scores

- Sanocki (2001) [Ch. 4]

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 11, pp. 374-376]


11/14: Correlation


- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 13, pp. 503-506]

- Segal & Cover (1989) [pp. 561-563]

- Sides (2012)


11/16: Contingency Tables and Measures of Association

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 13, pp. 436-463 (skim 445-458)]

- Licklider (1995)


11/19: Hypothesis Testing Using Statistics

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 13, pp. 463-473]

- Keith (1999) [pp 95-106]




11/26, 11/28: Linear Regression

- Johnson & Reynolds (2012)[Ch. 13, pp. 490-503; 511-521; 538-542]

- Silver (2011)

- Bremer (2008) [pp. 36-42]

- Day (2006) [pp. 33-39; review pp. 40-43]

- Davis & Silver (2004) [pp. 35-44]




11/30, 12/3, 12/5: Quantitative Methods Lab


12/7: Semester Wrap-Up


12/12 (Wednesday): FINAL (EXAM #2) @ 7:00pm-9:00pm






- American Political Science Association. 2006. Style Manual for Political Science. Washington, DC: American Political Science Association.


- Ansolabehere, Stephen, Shanto Iyengar, Adam Simon and Nicholas Valentino. 1994. "Does Attack Advertising Demobilize the Electorate?" American Political Science Review 88 (4): 829-838.


- Babbie, Earl. 1998. Survey Research Methods. 2nd Edition. Wadsworth Publishing: Belmont, CA. Chapters 5 and 7. (E-RESERVE)


- Baglione, Lisa. 2012. "…The Annotated Bibliography", "…Writing the Literature Review", and "Effectively Distilling Your Argument" (Ch's 3, 4 & 5) in Writing a Research Paper in Political Science. 2nd Edition. Washington, DC: CQ Press.  (E-RESERVE)


- Berry, Jeffrey M. 2002. "Validity and Reliability Issues in Elite Interviewing" PS: Political Science & Politics 35 (4): 679-682.


- Bremer, Elisabeth C. 2008. "A Gendered Analysis of Microcredit Lending: The Effects of Women's Rights on Grassroots Development." Senior IS Thesis – Department of Political Science, The College of Wooster.


- College of Wooster. 2010. "Codes of Community and Individual Responsibility" The Scot's Key.


- Davis, Darren W. and Brian D. Silver. 2004. "Civil Liberties vs. Security: Public Opinion in the Context of the Terrorist Attacks on America" American Journal of Political Science 48 (1): 28-46.


- Day, Margaux. 2006. "Put Your Money Where Your Patients Are: A Study of International Funding For AIDS Treatment." Senior IS Thesis – Department of Political Science, The College of Wooster.


- Department of Political Science. 2012. Independent Study Handbook. Wooster, OH: The College of Wooster.


- Druckman, James and Arthur Lupia. 2012. "Experimenting with Politics." Science 335 (6073): 1177-1179.


- Goldstein, Kenneth. 2002. "Getting in the Door: Sampling and Completing Elite Interviews" PS: Political Science & Politics 35 (4): 669-672.


- Hancock, Dawson R. and Bob Algozzine. 2006. Doing Case Study Research. New York: Teachers College Press. EXCERPTS. (E-RESERVE)


- Human Subjects Research Committee. 2012. "Policy on Protection of Human Subjects" [] AND "The College of Wooster Human Subjects Research Exempt Application" []. The College of Wooster.


- Insch, Gary S., Jo Ellen Moore and Lisa Murphy. 1997. "Content Analysis In Leadership Research: Examples, Procedures, and Suggestions for Future Use" Leadership Quarterly 8 (1): 1-25.


- Johnson, Janet Buttolph and H. T. Reynolds. 2012. Political Science Research Methods. 7th Edition. Washington, DC: CQ Press.  


- Kaarbo, Juliet and Ryan K. Beasley. 1999. "A Practical Guide to the Comparative Case Study Method in Political Psychology." Political Psychology, 20 (2): 369-391.


- Keith, Linda Camp. 1999. "The United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: Does It Make a Difference in Human Rights Behavior?" Journal of Peace Research 36 (1): 95-118.


- Knopf, Jeffrey W. 2006. "Doing a Literature Review" PS: Political Science and Politics 39 (1): 127-132.


- Leech, Beth L. 2002. "Asking Questions: Techniques for Semistructured Interviews" PS: Political Science & Politics 35 (4): 665-668.


- Licklider, Roy. 1995. "The Consequences of Negotiated Settlements in Civil Wars, 1945–1993." American Political Science Review 89 (3): 681-690.


- Lipson, Charles. 2005. How to Write a BA Thesis: A Practical Guide from Your First Ideas to Your Finished Paper. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


- Louderback, Whitney. 2009. "The Implementation of Negotiated Settlements After Intrastate Wars." Senior IS Thesis – Department of Political Science, The College of Wooster.


- Moskowitz, Eric S. 1987. "Pluralism, Elitism, and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act" Political Science Quarterly 102 (1): 93-112.


- Palmer, Barbara and Dennis M. Simon. 2005. "When Women Run Against Women: The Hidden Influence of Female Incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1956-2002," Politics & Gender 1 (1): 39-63.


- Paulos, John Allen. 1995. "New Survey Reveals Changing Attitudes" (pp. 178-180) in A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. New York: Anchor Books. (E-RESERVE)


- Sanocki, Thomas. 2001. "Looking at Populations" and "How Accurate Are Sample Means?" (Ch's 4 & 5) in Student Friendly Statistics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. (E-RESERVE)


- Sandholtz, Wayne. 2008. "Dynamics of International Norm Change: Rules Against Wartime Plunder" European Journal of International Relations 14 (1): 101-131.


- Seife, Charles. 2010. "Chapter 4: Poll Cats" (pp. 91-123) and "Appendix A: Statistical Error" (pp. 245-250) in Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception. New York, NY: Viking. (E-RESERVE).


- Segal, Jeffrey A. and Albert D. Cover. 1989. "Ideological Values and the Votes of U.S. Supreme Court Justices" American Political Science Review 83 (2): 557-565.  


- Sides, John. 2011. "The Politics of the Top 1 Percent." FiveThirtyEight – New York December 14, 2011.


- Sides, John. 2012. "Candidates Who Do Better Than Expected Win More Media Attention." FiveThirtyEight – New York January 4, 2012.


- Silver, Nate. 2010. "The Uncanny Accuracy of Polling Averages, Part I: Why You Can't Trust Your Gut" FiveThirtyEight – New York September 29, 2010.


- Silver, Nate. 2011. "Do Iowa Polls Predict New Hampshire Results?" FiveThirtyEight – New York December 16, 2011.


- Swinton, Peter. 2012. Going Green: Assessing the Strategies Sustainability Organizations Use for Mobilizing the Grassroots. Senior IS Thesis – Department of Political Science, The College of Wooster.


- Study and Learning Centre. 2011. "Writing the Literature Review." RMIT University.


- van Evera, Stephen. 1997. "What Are Case Studies?" (Ch. 2) in Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. (E-RESERVE)


- Woliver, Laura A. 2002. "Ethical Dilemmas in Personal Interviewing" PS: Political Science & Politics 35 (4): 677-678.