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Cover Image: Writing a Research Paper in Political Science: A Practical Guide to Inquiry, Structure, and Methods, 2nd Edition
  • Date: 08/25/2011
  • Format: Print Paperback
  • Price: $29.00
  • ISBN: 978-1-60871-991-4
  • Pages: 172
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Writing a Research Paper in Political Science: A Practical Guide to Inquiry, Structure, and Methods, 2nd Edition
Lisa A. Baglione, Saint Joseph’s University

Even students capable of writing excellent essays still find their first major political science research paper an intimidating experience. Crafting the right research question, finding good sources, properly summarizing them, operationalizing concepts and designing good tests for their hypotheses, presenting and analyzing quantitative as well as qualitative data are all tough-going without a great deal of guidance and encouragement. This writing guide breaks down the research paper into its constituent parts and shows students what they need to do at each stage to successfully complete components until the paper is finished. Even writing an introduction, coming up with effective headings and titles, presenting a conclusion, and the important steps of editing and revising are covered with class-tested advice and know-how.

In addition to using updated examples of student topics that pull from both American government and international relations, Baglione also includes examples of actual student writing to show readers how someone "just like them" accomplished tasks while writing their papers. Practical summaries, calendars, exercises, and a series of handy checklists make this a must-have supplement for any writing-intensive political science course.

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Table of Contents

1. So You Have to Write a Research Paper
What Is a Research Paper? A Few Helpful Metaphors
What Research Paper Writing Entails
Blueprint of the Book

2. Getting Started: Finding a Research Question
Characteristics of a “Good” Question
Practical Summary
Suggested Calendar
Checklist 1: The Research Question

3. Learning Proper Citation Forms, Finding the Scholarly Debate, and Summarizing and Classifying Arguments: The Annotated Bibliography
What is a Bibliography and Why Do We Bother with Them
Plagiarism versus Paraphrasing
Annotating the Bibliography
Identifying the Key Conceptual Issues
Searching for Sources
Identifying Similar Arguments and Grouping Your Sources
One Last Word of Advice: Generic Schools of Thought
Writing the Annotated Bibliography
Practical Summary
Suggested Calendar
Checklist 2: Annotated Bibliography

4. Making Sense of the Scholarly Answers to Your Research Question: Writing the Literature Review
Preparing for and Understanding the Literature Review
The Fundamentals of the Literature Review
Writing the Literature Review
Practical Summary
Suggested Calendar
Checklist 3: Literature Review

5. Effectively Distilling Your Argument: The Thesis, Model, and Hypothesis
The Thesis
The Model
The Hypothesis
Applying These Insights
Practical Summary
Suggested Calendar
Checklist 4: Model and Hypothesis

6. Revising and Editing Your Work: It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over!
Practical Summary
Suggested Calendar
Checklist 5: Appearance, Format and Style

7. Making Your Plan and Protecting Yourself from Criticism: The Research Design
Research Design: The Medical Science Analogy
Writing the Research Design
Finishing Touches on the Research Design
Practical Summary
Suggested Calendar
Checklist 6: Research Design

8. Evaluating the Argument: The Analysis and Assessment Section
Qualitative Analysis
Quantitative Analysis
Finishing the Analysis and Assessment Section
Practical Summary
Suggested Calendar
Checklist 7: Analysis and Assessment

9. Bringing Your Paper Together in Three Essential Ways: The Conclusion, Introduction, and Title
Considering the Significance and Limitations of Your Findings: The Conclusion
Writing a Good Introduction
A Last Element in Attracting Readers: Developing an Appealing Title
Are You Done? The Joy (and Continued Responsibilities) of Finalizing Your Draft
Practical Summary
Suggested Calendar
Checklist 8: Conclusion, Introduction, and Title


"Some people believe that excellent writers are born, but Baglione shows how students through discipline and hard work can become outstanding writers. She focuses on the writing process from start to finish: from formulating a research question, writing a literature review, formulating hypotheses, and writing a research design to revising and editing. For each step of the process, Baglione provides real-world examples and a practical checklist. I used the first edition of this book in an upper-level, undergraduate seminar, and my students profited from it enormously. I highly recommend it for both advanced undergraduate and beginning level graduate courses." - Dan Caldwell, Pepperdine University

"Students will use this book, and faculty will be glad they did. Baglione raises the standard for the quality of the research paper, and shows students, step-by-step, how to meet that standard. With this guide, the research paper is not just an effort to fill 20 pages, but rather a true research endeavor, with a hard question, a clear thesis, a research design, a method, and a conclusion." - Paul D’Anieri, University of Florida

"Writing a Research Paper in Political Science is an invaluable resource for instructors at all levels. Since it covers all the essential steps of conducting independent research, both undergraduates and graduate students in research seminars can follow its guidelines at every stage. For assignments that provide more structure, chapters on annotated bibliographies and crafting a thesis should be required reading. And the discussion of paraphrasing versus plagiarism applies across the board." - Audie Klotz, University of Syracuse

"This book’s strengths are clear: it summarizes the writing process that coincides with the typical method that I teach students to conduct empirically-oriented research in political science. Baglione captures the undergraduate political science major audience well, and is accessible to students who do not intend to pursue political science as a profession, but who will benefit from a greater understanding of the process political scientists follow to identify a puzzle or problem, survey the literature, develop a thesis, and design and carry out a logical process to address the problem." - Tim LaPira, James Madison University

"This book is the best guide for undergraduate research papers I have found. In clear and direct language, Baglione demystifies the process of writing a research paper. In a lively writing style, Baglione breaks down a research paper into its essential components and then carefully walks undergraduate students through each step of the project. This book is an indispensable resource for any undergraduate course on research design, or for honors theses and independent studies. I have even assigned this book in upper division political science courses to remind students of the essential parts of a quality research paper, and students have been very grateful to have such a valuable guide." - Mary Fran T. Malone, University of New Hampshire
Lisa A. Baglione, Saint Joseph’s University
Lisa A. Baglione is a Professor and the Chair of the Political Science Department at Saint Joseph’s University. Her major fields of study are International Relations and Comparative Politics. Dr. Baglione has published works exploring post-settlement peacebuilding, the arms control decision-making process in the United States, the Soviet Union, and Russia, and the research-paper writing process, and has co-authored articles on the transformation of the Russian polity and economy in the early post-communist period. Currently, she is researching conflict transformation in the twenty-first century. At Saint Joseph’s, Dr. Baglione teaches a course called Introduction to Political Science Research, in which she developed the ideas, advice, and techniques offered in this work.

To help support your students, Writing a Research Paper in Political Science includes these instructor’s resources:

  • A series of tip sheets to help students progress through each phase of the research paper
  • end-of-chapter checklists
  • all of these materials are available for download and can be easily customized by the instructor

For more, simply follow this link:


Sample Pages
This book is now available on CourseSmart! Click the link for more information.