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Homework answers / question archive / PSCI 2002 Research Paper Guidelines ELEMENTS TO INCLUDE IN THE PAPER: 1

PSCI 2002 Research Paper Guidelines ELEMENTS TO INCLUDE IN THE PAPER: 1


PSCI 2002

Research Paper Guidelines


1. Cover sheet (1 page): Give your topic title, your name, student number, the submission date, and course number. Also, please be sure to indicate your TA.

2. Introduction (max. 1 page): Get the reader's attention and explain why this topic is important, what your goals are for the discussion, and how you intend to structure your discussion of the topic (list and briefly describe your main points). A good way to approach it is by asking a question. This establishes that there is some problem that your paper is seeking to explore. Why has one group been successful in a policy area and not another? How and why has a particular social cleavage evolved over time? What strategies did a particular movement employ and which garnered the best results? What are the sources of a particular set of regional grievances?

This may seem intimidating, but remember that the goal is not to come up with some original insight that changes the field of Canadian political science. “The idea is that you can focus your research on a Manageable question, and this will allow you to synthesize and assess what others have said about it. What some original documents may show, and so on, Indeed, an important aspect of the exercise of writing a research paper is the capacity to render it coherent and focused it is not a summary nor ts iCan unsubstantiated opinion piece.

3. Body of Paper (approx. 7-9 pages): Following the outline of your main points, address each topic in detail and state your researched arguments, backing it up with quotes. The body of the paper outlines the substantive part of your argument. You can start with providing a bit of context - what have others argued? What are the parameters of the debate? What were the internal debates about the strategy of a given group? What are the relevant policy legacies in a given area of interest? What is your interpretation of the matter, and why is it relevant and significant?

This main section should present the results of your research in an organized and consistent manner. It should be clearly seen that you understand the material well. Use every opportunity to critically analyze different views on the subject you are presenting - this is the best way to demonstrate understanding, You must avoid writing mere summaries of what other authors have written on the subject. Provide your opinion after having assessed others’.

4. Conclusion (approx. I-2 page): Restate the main conclusions. Address potential shortcomings of your observations. Mention the possibility of future research that is required.

5. Bibliography: List all the works consulted in your research, both these you quoted from and others you used to form your conclusions. (Make sure you do not include works that you did not actually cite in the paper)

Citations: You can use any style that 1s generally accepted in social science, as long as it is consistent throughout,

Remember, citations are important because they lead the reader to a body of literature that you are employing to make your conclusions. This, again, is an important part of the exercise.


Each paper has 100 possible points, which will be broken down into two sections:

A. Organization/professionalism: each sub-category is worth 4 points, for a possible 20 points


1. Clear introduction and purpose

2. Clear structure (sections demarcated, outline clear)

3. Well-organized footnotes or endnotes

4. Grammar, punctuation, spelling

5. Format (pages numbered, margins) and typing (line and word spacing)

B. Substance content: each sub-category lists the points allotted, for a possible 80 pointy total:

1. Demonstrates an understanding of the topic with good use of research (30 pts.)

2. Provides a concise and cogent overview of the secondary literature, and is able to not only synthesize but critically assess the salient points in developing an argument. Be sure to let your original statement or question guide the body of the paper throughout, so that every paragraph is related to the main argument in some way. Do not bring in information or arguments that do not address the main focus of your paper, and if you do, it must be explained (45 pts.)

3. Quality of bibliography (5 pts.)

A research paper presents the results of your investigations on a selected topic. Based on your own thoughts and the facts and ideas you have gathered from a variety of sources, a research paper is your own synthesis of these facts and ideas, with complete documentation of where those facts and ideas came from. In this sense, a research paper is a new work that you create by consulting several sources to answer a research question.

A research paper is not a summary of an article or book or a collection of summaries of articles or books. You should demonstrate that you understand the problems by interpreting and evaluating the information you present.

The purpose of writing a research paper is two-fold: (i) to broaden your knowledge of a specific topic, and (ii) most importantly, to help you gain experience in wrung such papers: the experience in gathering, interpreting, and documenting information, developing and organizing ideas and conclusions, and communicating them clearly by itself constitutes an important part of your education.

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