comparative politics

POL103 Summer 2015 Research Assignment Paper

This paper will be worth 20% of your grade and I expect a very high level of scholarship and writing on this paper. Please take into account the feedback that I have left on your writing assignments and the writing samples that I have placed on the discussion board. Students must first submit their proposal to me and post it in the discussion board *see #2 below* by Monday 7/27 (it need be no longer than a few sentences) and the final draft at least 7 pages long will be due on August 5th, (but I will appreciate and take into account when grading any papers that are returned earlier). Late assignments will not be accepted under ANY circumstances.

  1. Students must create their own comparative hypothesis covering a topic we have discussed in the course.

Hypothesis:My research paper will focus on two countries, Libya and the UAE, and how both are non-democracies but are in different spheres regarding political stability. Both are rich in oil, yet the distribution of wealth and corruption are completely different from each other. Their leaders took different approaches in how they governed their countries and now have 2 different outcomes. While the UAE developed into a rich 1st world country, Libya fell behind as a 3rd world country.

Comments on hypothesis:

So you want to explore what is causing the difference in political stability between the two so come up with some other variables as well to see how they work with their two non-democratic systems to produce different outcomes. Finally, dont forget to make a case that is falsifiable, meaning that it can be challenged. Many students think that this will weaken their point but it will only strengthen the scientific integrity of your argument. For example, although I'm not suggesting that you would ever pose the argument in these terms, but a non-falsifiable argument would be; "the UAE is stable and Libya is not because UAE has better people, or is favored by god, ect." The problem with certain arguments like this is that they are circular and dont allow for the relationship to be falsified because it cant be proven or disproven. These arguments tend to be particularly common because people think that they are 'airtight' and have some intuitive appeal but they are not scientific. Once again, I know you probably already know this but I just want to get you thinking about a strong hypothesis that can avoid some of the pitfalls that people often make when starting research. It looks good so far and please contact me with any more questions."

Consult the first chapter on the comparative method and remember that comparative politics looks for explanations of:

  • Countries that share attributes but experience different political outcomes (method of difference)
  • When a diverse set of countries experiences the same political outcomes (method of agreement)
  • Your hypothesis must include at least two countries and explain variation or similarity in outcome
  • I would prefer that students look at revolutions, conflicts, or peace processes (see the readings for week 5) but you may also compare political economy, electoral systems, or another topic we have covered as long as it is approved by me.
  • Your hypothesis must be falsifiable- meaning that the relationship can be shown to be incorrect.
  • Students need to identify the independent variables IV (factors that cause the phenomenon you want to explain and the dependent variables DV (the outcome you are seeking to explain). You may also include conditional variables that work with the independent variables to produce a given dependent variable.
  • Your hypothesis cannot be any of the examples given in the book (Montesquieu’s Climate, Weak state in Zimbabwe vs. Botswana, Costa Rica’s civilian rule, ect…) This does not prevent you from writing about any of the countries mentioned in the text, but if you turn in a research question that is not original I will send it back to you.
  1. Email your proposed topic to me NO LATER THAN MONDAY 7/27/ and post it in the discussion board. This will be worth 20% of your grade or 4 points of your total class grade and you must both send me the proposal before the date AND post it on the discussion board. This is an easy way for you all to get feedback from me and your other classmates. Students can also earn extra participation points for providing constructive feedback and commenting on other students posts. If you rip off another student’s question from the discussion board (I will know who submitted it first from your email proposal) you will get no points for the assignment.
  2. Your final draft is due Thursday August 6that midnight, the last day of class. I cannot accept any assignments after this. All final drafts must include a sources cited page and be at least 7 pages in length (not including a works cited and a title page is not necessary). Please communicate with me through your writing process and take advantage of student discussion on blackboard to produce the best paper that you can.
  3. Sources. Acceptable sources include Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Economist, The New York Times, BBC, The Atlantic, the Guardian as well as various institutions such as Human Rights Watch, Transparency International, World Bank Data, Freedom House. Please feel free to use any of the journal articles I have assigned or to find your own using Google Scholar or JStor but do not use the textbook for this course, Wikipedia, or any other inappropriate source. – use 3-4 sources

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