POLS 302 Research Methods


POLS 302
Research Methods
Spring 2020
Sonoma State University
Dave McCuan
FINAL PROJECT (30% of Final Grade)
Final Paper Due: 5 pm, Thursday, May 14th, 2020
For the final POLS 302 Research Paper, you will examine the degree of congruence between
public opinion on a major policy issue and election outcomes in terms of congressional and/or
presidential results, using an ANES dataset from the 2004-2016 period.
Your paper, thus, will include your summary of results, cross-tabulations, polls and statistical
analysis presented by others (such as polling conducted by news outlets and academic
organizations) AS WELL AS your own original research. You should address the following
• What were the patterns of public opinion on the issue during the period under study?
• To what extent were the patterns in the time period of your study similar to or different
from opinions at some previous point in time (up to twenty years earlier)?
• How did opinion on that policy issue differ among various groups? Look for opinion
differences based on categories such as age, race, gender, region, religion, place of
residence, education, partisanship, ideology or any other quality that might be relevant?
• If relevant, what were the policy options advocated by various candidates and/or
• What policies or points of view seemed to prevail on Election Day?
• Thus, to which segments of public opinion were President and Congress responding?
• How did voters respond to policymakers’ positions on a given issue or set of issues?
To answer these questions, concentrate on using a more recent of data such as ANES 2004 or
2008, 2012, or 2016. You should FORMAT / ORGANIZE the paper per the following:
• Title Page (1 page, followed by a blank page)
• Table of Contents (1 page)
• List of Tables and Figures (1 page, including Labels, or Title, for each chart, graph, etc.
with page numbers, followed by a blank page)
• Abstract (1 page, one paragraph summary of your research question and brief findings,
followed by a blank page)
• Introduction (1 to 2 pages in length, introducing your research, why the question is of
interest, and a short discussion of where the research falls in Political Science)
• Previous Research / Literature (3 to 5 pages in length that details past significant research
and scholarship on your particular question)
• Theory (2 to 4 pages in length that details how you conceptualize previous approaches
AND integrate your own view into a new theoretical contribution)
• Research Question / Hypothesis(es) (1 to 2 pages in length that includes your predictions
about the DV based on the interaction of the IVs. This is both a formula AND a
description of each variable.)
• Methodology (1 page in length. A discussion of how you operationalize the IVs and the
statistical methods used to answer your hypothesis(es).)
• Findings (3 to 5 pages in length. What did you find, usually includes tables and
discussion of the significant findings within those tables.)
• Discussion / Implications (2 to 4 pages in length. A discussion of, “What is significant
about your question and based on your findings, why does that matter?”)
• Conclusion (typically 1 page, followed by a blank page)
• Appendix (Tables, supplementary information, followed by a blank page)
• Bibliography /Works Cited (should mostly – almost exclusively – be comprised of
Political Science journal articles, and few, if any, books.)
The minimum accepted length of the WHOLE paper is 30 pages. The final paper, including all of
the pages listed above (including the blank pages), should total between 30 and 50 pages.
EVERY page should be paginated. The paper will be typewritten, double-spaced, using 12 point
Times New Roman font. The paper should be stapled once in the upper left-hand corner with no
plastic covers.
You must document every source of information you rely upon, including identifying each
statistical technique you utilize. You should employ the citation style recommended by the
Department, which is Turabian style (see http://library.sonoma.edu/research/turabianstyle.html
for examples).
Some of your public opinion data will be presented in tables. Tables must be included to
document the content of public opinion. All tables have a title in BOLD as well as a source
cited. You must also provide information about the items used in the surveys – question wording,
source of the survey, number of respondents, etc. This information should be included in your
THE COURSE. KEEP AN ELECTRONIC COPY of the Final Paper in your own records.

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