Dr. Mario Guerrero
Office Phone: (909) 869-3885
Meeting Time: MWF 10:30 – 11:35AM
Classroom Location: Building 5, Room 138
Office Hours: MW 1:00 – 2:00PM; F 1:00 – 3:00PM; And by appointment
Office Location: 9-213
What is this course about?
The primary activity in this course is a independent study and preparation of a senior thesis under faculty supervision. This course is the first in a two quarter sequence. Students will learn about the process of conducting research in political science. More specifically, students will learn about the process with the aim to conduct their own original research project. Major components of the course include identifying a research question, investigating and testing potential hypotheses, and developing research design. In course meetings, students will present and discuss progress on their projects. Students will also read literature from prominent scholars in each of the subfields of political science. The course meetings will serve to keep students accountable to their own work. As part of the course, students are expected to meet with the professor in office hours.
What books do we need?
All readings for this course are available in an online textbook written especially for this class. The complete guide can be found here, but the specific portions of assigned reading are split apart in the course schedule further down on this page.
Guerrero, M. 2017. Senior Thesis Guide. (Full guide)
There is also recommended reading for the course as detailed below in the course schedule. Other sections of thesis have another book assigned for required reading. It will also be recommended reading for our course:
Van Evera, S. 1997. Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
There are some passages in this book that are helpful, but this book is written mostly for students studying international relations or comparative politics.
Okay. Great. I’m on board, but how do I start?
Writing a thesis can seem like an overwhelming process. First and foremost, remember that we have more than five months to work on the thesis. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it is imperative to set pragmatic goals and respect the temporal requirements of the project. Discipline and motivation are essential elements to completing the project on time. Don’t procrastinate, five months go by quickly.
Now that’s out of the way: every single thesis project begins with a simple idea. We are all students of politics and ask questions about phenomena that we observe. In this course, you are encouraged to study these phenomena in a systematic, comprehensive manner. This course is one of the only opportunities that you have the complete freedom to study whatever it is that you’re most interested in. The thesis starts with only one idea.
As an example of good research that began as a simple conversation with friends, I can forward you to one of my research projects that has been published in an academic journal (link). I co-authored this paper with two friends from graduate school. The paper started as a simple conversation after our research methodology class. We talked about how Facebook was slowly taking over our lives, leaving little time for more serious things–like political science. We joked around that we should study Facebook politics, as everyone seems to pose as an expert on Facebook. We brainstormed ideas and the rest is history.
Will I have opportunities to present my thesis to outside audiences?
Yes! This is strongly encouraged. There are a number of different opportunities to present your thesis outside of our campus community. In fact, many of these opportunities bring the possibility to win awards and monetary prizes. Not only is this great practice for your own presentation skills, but this is an awesome opportunity to put additional lines on your resume.
Western Political Science Association Annual Meeting
This is the discipline’s annual regional meeting, held this year in San Francisco, CA. This has the earliest proposal deadline, but it’s the last conference on the schedule. If you have aspirations to enroll in a PhD program in political science, I would strongly consider attending this meeting. The meeting invites undergraduates to present posters of their work.
Proposal Due: September 22, 2017
Conference Date: March 29-31, 2018
Location: San Francisco, CA
Southern California Conferences for Undergraduate Research
This annual conference is open to undergraduate students from all disciplines. The sciences are well-represented, but this is an opportunity to present early results here on campus. We host this conference infrequently, but it is indeed a lucky year as Cal Poly will host this year.
Proposal due: October 5, 2017
Conference date: November 18, 2017
Location: Cal Poly Pomona
Cal Poly Pomona Student Research Conference
The CSU holds a student research conference every year. The CSU-wide conference will be held in May 2018. In order to present at the CSU-wide conference, you must submit your work to the Cal Poly Pomona Research Conference. For 3 out of 5 years, our students have won this conference and had the opportunity to present at the CSU-wide conference.
Proposal due: February 2018
Campus conference date: March 2, 2018
Location: Cal Poly Pomona Library
Can I do something else besides present at a conference?
Absolutely. The other option is to submit a very polished version of your thesis to academic journals. Our department has its own academic journal that we just began publishing last year. The American Political Science Association provides a list of undergraduate journals that you may be interested in submitting to. If you are interested in graduate school, a published paper looks incredible for your resume/CV. You can also submit to any academic journal beyond the list provided here. Please note that this process usually takes months and the journal requirements (submission process, page length, style, subject matter, etc.,) are arbitrary and often rigid. It can be tedious, but this is mostly administrative work. Let me know if you’re interested in submitting a version of your thesis for publication.
- Statement of Interest (1-2 paragraphs): This assignment asks you to merely describe your broad general research interests. Due via email, Week 1, on Friday, September 29, 5:00pm.
- Research Question (1-2 paragraphs): This assignment asks you to choose a clearly stated question to be examined in the thesis. Due via email, Week 2, on Friday, October 6, 5:00pm.
- Argument (1-2 paragraphs): This assignment asks you to answer your question by outlining your expectations. Due via email, Week 3, on Friday, October 13, 5:00pm.
45% Literature Review (8-10 pages): This assignment will become a major component of your final thesis in which you summarize the key literature surrounding your topic. Due in the department main office (hard copy), Week 7, on Wednesday, November 8, 5:00pm.
- Annotated Bibliography (at least 15 sources): This assignment asks you to provide a list of sources with a short explanation of each source’s use. Due via email, Week 6, on Friday, November 3, 5:00pm.
- Rewrite: Students have the option of receiving feedback on their literature review to ultimately receive a revised grade. Due via email, Finals Week, on Friday, December 8, 5:00pm.
20% Research Methodology (5-6 pages): This assignment requires students to detail the systematic approach and plan of the project. Due via email, Week 8, on Friday, November 17, 5:00pm.
- Rewrite: Students have the option of receiving feedback on their literature review to ultimately receive a revised grade. Due via email, Week 10, on Friday, December 1, 5:00pm.
10% Exchange Session: There are three days this quarter in which you will exchange written drafts of your work. You will receive credit for participation in these sessions, along with the substantive comments and feedback you provide to your classmates.
10% Office Hours, Participation and Attendance: In addition to regular class meetings and participation, students are required to attend office hours at least three times during the fall quarter.
Grade Appeals. The period for grade appeals begins 24 hours after an assignment is handed back. The grade appeal must be made within a week of receiving the grade. The appeal must be written and made during office hours.
Please note the following schedule is subject to change throughout the quarter. The readings listed are required before we start class each week.
Week 0: September 22.
Introduction. What is a thesis? What is expected of me? Is writing a thesis difficult?
Discussion Topic for 9/22: Introductions & Ideas
Guerrero, M. 2017. “Chapter One: Walk Before You Run.” Senior Thesis Guide.
Week 1: September 25-September 29.
What makes a good topic? How do I develop my ideas into a topic? What are some of the basic conventions of each of the subfields? What makes a good topic?
Discussion for 9/25: Topic selection
Guerrero, M. 2017. ”Chapter Two: The First Step: Choosing a Topic.” Senior Thesis Guide.
Geddes, B. 2003. Paradigms and Sand Castles: Theory Building and Research Design in Comparative Politics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Chapter 2, “Big Questions, Little Answers,” p. 27-69.
King, G., R.O. Keohane, and S. Verba. 1994. Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chapter 1, p. 14-23 and 28-33, and Chapter 3, p. 99-114.
Salkind, N.J. 2000. Statistics for People Who (Think They) Hate Statistics. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Chapter 7, p. 131-144.
Assignment Due: Statement of Interest
Friday, September 29
Week 2: October 2-October 6.
How does a research question lead to a good study? What are some criteria for a good research question?
Discussion for 10/2: Research Questions
Guerrero, M. 2017. ”Chapter Two: From Topic to Research Question.” Senior Thesis Guide.
Readings: Geddes, B. 2003. Paradigms and Sand Castles: Theory Building and Research Design in Comparative Politics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Chapter 4, “How the Evidence You Use Affects the Answers You Get,” p. 142-173.
King, G., R.O. Keohane, and S. Verba. 1994. Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chapter 1, p. 23-28.
Van Evera, S. 1997. ”Chapter One: Hypotheses, Laws and Theories.” Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science. Ithica, NY: Cornell University Press.
Assignment Due: Research Question
Friday, October 6
Week 3: October 9-October 13
How do you formally answer research questions? How do you design a study to answer your questions? Do I need hypotheses?
Discussion for 10/9: Arguments
Guerrero, M. 2017. ”Chapter Two: From Topic to Research Question.” Senior Thesis Guide.
Readings: Geddes, B. 2003. Paradigms and Sand Castles: Theory Building and Research Design in Comparative Politics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Chapter 2, “Big Questions, Little Answers,” p. 69-88, and Chapter 4, “How the Evidence You Use Affects the Answers You Get,” p. 131-142.
Assignment Due: Argument
Friday, October 13
Week 4: October 16-October 20
Exchange Session I. Bring a hard copy of your proposal to class
Discussion for 10/16: Proposal Drafts
Assignment Due: Proposal
Friday, October 20
Week 5: October 23-October 27
What resources does the library have to help me? How do I actually carry out the bulk of this research?
Discussion for 10/23: Library Instructional Session
Guerrero, M. 2017. ”Chapter Three: Engaging with Literature.” Senior Thesis Guide.
Week 6: October 30-November 3
How do I do the literature review? What are some common pitfalls in writing a literature review?
Discussion for 10/30: Literature review
The following is a list of readings from each of our major subfields. Students should read only the selections from the subfield they intend to write their thesis under.
- Butler, D.M. and D.E. Broockman. 2011. “Do Politicians Racially Discriminate Against Constituents? A Field Experiment on State Legislators.” American Journal of Political Science 55(3): 463-477.
- Arkinson, M.D., R.D. Enos, and S.J. Hill. 2009. “Candidate Faces and Election Outcomes: Is the Face-Vote Correlation Caused by Candidate Selection?” Quarterly Journal of Political Science 4: 229-249.
- Williams, M.C. 2009. “Waltz, Realism, and Democracy.” International Relations 23(3): 328-340.
- Williams, M.C. 2010. “Nonstate Actors and the Diffusion of Innovations: The Case of Suicide Terrorism.” International Relations 64(1): 33-64.
- Knutsen, C.H. 2011. “Which Democracies Prosper? Electoral Rules, Form of Government, and Economic Growth.” Electoral Studies 30(1): 83-90.
- Elfert, B., E. Miguel, and D.N. Posner. 2010. “Political Competition and Ethnic Identification in Africa.” American Journal of Political Science 54(2): 494-510.
- Katz, C.J. 2003. “Thomas Jefferson’s Liberal Anticapitalism.” American Journal of Political Science 47(1): 1-17.
- Phillips, A. 2011. “It’s My Body and I’ll Do What I Like With It: Bodies as Objects and Property.” Political Theory 39(6): 724-768.
- Epstein, L., J.A. Segal, and C. Westerland. 2008. “The Increasing Importance of Ideology in the Nomination and Confirmation of Supreme Court Justices.” Drake Law Review 56(3): 609-635.
- Abrego, L. J., 2011. “Legal Consciousness of Undocumented Latinos: Fear and Stigma as Barriers to Claims-Making for First- and 1.5-Generation Immigrants.” Law and Society Review 45(2): 337-370.
- Mettler, S. and J. Soss. 2004. “The Consequences of Public Policy for Democratic Citizenship: Bridging Policy Studies and Mass Politics.” Perspectives on Politics 2(1): 55-73.
- Whitford, A.B. and B.Y. Clark. 2007. “Designing Property Rights for Water: Mediating Market Government and Corporation.” Policy Sciences 40(4): 335-351.
- Beck, N. 1999. “Political Methodology – A Welcoming Discipline.” Unpublished manuscript. May 11.
PowerPoint: Coming soon
Assignment Due: Annotated Bibliography
Friday, November 3
Week 7: November 6-November 10
Exchange Session II. Bring a hard copy of your literature review to class
Discussion for 11/6: Literature Review Drafts
Knopf, J.W. 2006. “Doing a Literature Review.” PS: Political Science and Politics 39(1): 127-132.
Cuba, L. 1997. A Short Guide to Writing about Social Science. 3rd ed. New York: Longman Press. Chapter 3, “Summaries and Reviews of Social Science Literature,” p. 56-78.
Cuba, L. 1997. A Short Guide to Writing about Social Science. 3rd ed. New York: Longman Press. Chapter 5, “Library Research Papers,” p. 120-151.
Assignment Due: Literature Review
Wednesday, November 8
Week 8. November 13-November 17
What is research methodology? What kinds of things do I need to do to answer my research question? What is original research and how do I provide evidence for my argument?
Discussion for 11/13: Research Methodology
Guerrero, M. 2017. ”Chapter Four: Designing Your Study.” Senior Thesis Guide.
Guerrero, M. 2017. “Chapter Five: The Guide to Methodology.” Senior Thesis Guide.
Cuba, L. 1997. A Short Guide to Writing about Social Science. 3rd ed. New York: Longman Press. Chapter 4, “Papers Based on Original Research, ” p.79-111.
Salkind, N.J. 2000. Statistics for People Who (Think They) Hate Statistics. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Chapter 6, p. 109-124.
Scott, G.M., and S.M. Garrison. 2002. The Political Science Student Writer’s Manual. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, Chapter 2, “Writing Competently,” p. 17-41.
Schmidt, D. 2010. Writing in Political Science: A Practical Guide. 4th ed. New York: Longman Press. Chapter 7, “Common Writing Problems.”
Schmidt, D. 2010. Writing in Political Science: A Practical Guide. 4th ed. New York: Longman Press. Chapter 9, “Manuscript Format and Referencing Styles.”
Van Evera, S. 1997. ”Chapter Two: What are Case Studies?” Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science. Ithica, NY: Cornell University Press.
Assignment Due: Methodology
Friday, November 17
Week 9: November 20-November 24
How do I write my proposal, literature review, and research methodology to make my life easier next quarter? What should I be doing over winter quarter?
Discussion for 11/20: Winter is coming
Van Evera, S. 1997. ”Chapter Four: Helpful Hints in Writing a Political Science Dissertation.” Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science. Ithica, NY: Cornell University Press.
Week 10: November 27-December 1
Exchange Session III. Bring a hard copy of your research methodology to class
Discussion for 11/27: Research Methodology drafts
Readings: No readings
Assignment Due: Research Methodology Rewrite
Friday, December 1
Finals. December 4-December 8
How can I improve my literature review?
Readings: No readings