Fall 2013 / Instructor: Professor Mindy Thomas / REVISED
or [email protected] Office: 205 Garaventa; Telephone: 510 /815-4478; Office
hours: MF 1:30 to 2:30, or see me after class.
COURSE PREREQUISITES: English 5 and at least one Intro to Politics course
in any of the four major areas. In special cases, the instructor’s permission may
be substituted for the Into to Politics course
TEXT AND MATERIALS: Writing Research Papers Across the Curriculum,
Susan M. Hubbuch (5th Ed.). Class handouts, library materials, and on-line
sources will also be used in the course.
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is designed to help you learn research,
analytical, and writing concepts and skills in the political science field. The
course covers both objective and persuasive writing. The course curriculum is
designed to make use of, adapt, and expand concepts, skills, and practices
developed in English 5. This course will familiarize the student with analytical,
research and writing skills in all four areas of the political science major:
American Politics, Political Theory, International Politics, and Comparative
Politics. The course methodology helps the student learn by presenting all of
these skills and concepts in a “building blocks” system that presents basic skills
and concepts in short assignments, and then builds on these basic skills and
concepts to support their mastery in longer and more complex assignments.
COURSE LEARNING OBJECTIVES: After taking this course, the student will be
able to demonstrate:
1. Clear and accurate understanding of political science writing in all four areas
of the major;
2. Ability to produce effective written and oral communication in all four areas of
the major; including competent citation, clear and careful organization around a
competent thesis, professional format, grammatical presentation, analytical
accuracy and intellectual depth;
3. Mastery of basic and more complex forms of argument in political science,
including knowledge of types of political science writing, competent presentation
of, and support for, both objective and persuasive analysis in all four areas of the
4. Effective engagement in the creative processes of intellectual political science
writing, research, and analysis, including techniques for brainstorming,
collaboration, revising, flexibility in thinking and research and reflecting on
feedback, and
5. Competent, upper division level research skills in all four areas of the major.
ATTENDANCE POLICY: There are no excused absences for this course except
in the case of illness or urgent circumstances. This includes absences related to
participation in athletic programs. At the instructor’s discretion, absences must
be reasonably documented and the instructor reserves the right to lower the
student’s grade up to one full grade for excessive absences or excessive
All assignments are given a numerical score based on the number of maximum
points possible for the assignment. Your cumulative number of points at the end
of the course determines your grade according to the percentage of points you
earn out of points possible in the entire course. For example, if you earn 95% of
all possible points you will receive an A in the course; if you earn 80% of all
possible points will receive a B in the course. The maximum number of points
possible in this course is 870 points. Please see individual assignments below
for maximum points available on specific assignments. Grading scale: 100%93% = A / 92-90% = A- / 89%-85% = B+ / 84%-80% = B / 79%-78% = B- / 77%75% = C+ / 74%-70% = C / 69%-68% = C- / 67%-65% = D+ / 64%-60% = D /
59% and below = F
THE SPECIAL NATURE OF THIS COURSE: Please note the following very
important information.
(1) late papers are not accepted unless there is an illness or urgent
circumstance reasonably documented at the instructor’s discretion. All
papers are due, on time, in print, when indicated below.
(2) The course is based on weekly assignments and weekly feedback
from your instructor and/or your peers. This requires complete
cooperation among all of us.
(3) Because this course is “scaffolded” (constructed on a building blocks
system of increasing complexity) the course requires you to master
basic skills, then develop and expand them on the schedule below.
(4) The course schedule is designed to give you feedback on each
already- submitted assignment before the next assignment is due in
order to incorporate learned skills, concepts and feedback.
(5) For all of the above reasons it is extremely important to stay current. If
you think you are falling behind please see the instructor for help and
support ASAP!
ORIGINAL Assignments:
● treasure hunt: basic traditional, and computer-assisted sources, with
basic bibliography citation of 10 sources (20 pts) COMPLETED
● treasure hunt: expanded traditional and computer-assisted sources, with
bibliography citation of 10 sources (20 pts) COMPLETED
● Basic open-universe problem to locate “best” sources: American Politics
(40 pts) with bibliography COMPLETED
● 3-page paper using open-universe problem in American Politics and
“best” sources located. (50 pts) COMPLETED
● 3-page closed-research problem with footnote citation: comparative
Politics). (50 pts) COMPLETED
REVISED Assignments:
● MIDTERM: partially closed-universe analytical problem on government
shutdown/potential default (American politics) outline of major issues and
sources. (100 pts)
● 5-page paper, on topic above, with footnotes included in text. (100 pts)
● 5-page open research position paper (persuasive): outline of major
issues and sources. (60 pts)
●Oral presentation (30 pts)
● Rewrite the open-universe, persuasive problem above (50 pts)
● Final paper: research phase, tentative outline, thesis, and list of sources
for final paper: American politics (50 pts)
● Final 8-page persuasive paper with footnotes or endnotes and
bibliography (due at scheduled time of final) (300 pts).
OTHER APPLICABLE COLLEGE POLICIES: Please be aware that this course
is governed by the College academic honesty policy relating to students and that
students with disabilities are entitled to accommodation as determined by the
Office of Student Disability Services. Please feel free to ask the instructor, or
make a private appointment for consultation, if you would like any help or
information regarding these policies.
LIBRARY RESOURCES STATEMENT: Library staff members are available to
help you as you find appropriate sources for your papers. The reference
librarians are available to help you brainstorm strategies to search for sources,
use appropriate databases, evaluate quality of sources, and answer your
questions. Specifically, as political scientists we work closely with Sue
Birkenseer. She should be the first person at the library you contact for help with
locating sources. If she is not available there are other reference librarians
waiting to help you when the library is open. Sue’s contact information is:
[email protected], and 925-631-4255. You can also click on the “Ask
Us!” link on the library home page for assistance. We will also participate in two
workshops as a class at the library.
MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION: (1) Please feel free to eat or drink in class
as long as you are not disrupting your colleagues or the class activities. (2)
Please turn off your cell phone in class unless it is absolutely needed (e.g.,
internet research that might come up). Lap tops are fine for note taking, but any
student who texts in class will receive an automatic absence for the day. (4)
Please feel free to ask me to repeat or review material in class if you find yourself
confused or lost; I am happy to do so. (5) I am also happy to go over course
information privately on office hours, as well. (6) In a scaffolded course such as
this, mastery of later, more complex skills and concepts depends upon mastery
of earlier, basic skills and concepts. Please do not be shy about asking for
clarification or help at any time! In or out of the classroom I am happy to support
your learning efforts – not only is it my job, it’s my pleasure!
course are welcome to drop in or make appointments for one-on-one sessions
with a CWAC Writing Advisor. Students may request weekly or bi-weekly
sessions with the same peer Student Advisor. The CWAC is in Dante 202, is
open 5-8 p.m. Sunday, and 2-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The phone
number is 925/631-4684. Students can visit the CWAC for a wide variety of
purposes, including but not limited to, brainstorming, help with organization and
writing style, critical reading skills, citation form, draft revision, and research
methods. A student consulting with the CWAC should always bring his or her
assignments, texts, and related material. The CWAC engages in a collaborative
style of learning that supports intellectual effectiveness and the writer’s
empowerment. Services of the CWAC are free to Saint Mary’s College students.
WEEK 1 September 2-6 Basic, commonly-used political science sources
and how to cite them (M=Labor Day; W/F classes only)
● Text: Please see Index p. 445: under “CMS,” look up and read relevant
references (for Wed. and Fri) and read p. 413-414.
●Introduction to course and the four substantive areas of the major
●Making the transition from lower division to upper division writing,
research and analysis
●why we use citation in political science writing
●Transitioning to The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) for documentation
●CMS basic differences among bibliography, footnote, and endnote form
●Library tour, traditional and computer-assisted sources in political
● Proof reading your citation form, and basics to help you master both
accuracy and reuse of citation form.
Assignment: hands-on library “treasure hunt” for traditional and
computer-assisted sources in international, comparative and American
politics, and political theory. Find all 10 items in the treasure hunt, and
correctly cite each as it would appear in a bibliography in “CMS” citation
style. (40) Due Monday, next week.
WEEK 2 September 9-12 Expanded political science sources and how to
cite them
● Text, Please see Index, p. 445 under “CMS,” look up and read relevant
references and read p. 413-414
● Return, review, and discuss political science sources treasure hunt
●expanding your knowledge of types of political science sources with
subcategories of the type of source (e.g., scholarly journals: peer reviewed
vs. non peer-reviewed journals)
●Building your understanding of CSM citation form for “reference list”
(bibliography) of sources cited in a political science work.
Assignment: “treasure hunt” for practice and expansion of some
specific sources (international, comparative, American politics, and
political theory) Find all 10 items in the treasure hunt, and correctly cite
each as it would appear in text in CMS citation form (40) Due Friday of
this week.
WEEK 3 September 16-20 Basic, objective political analysis, research and
●Text, Section 1: What Is A Research Paper? Pp. 3-12; Finding the
Evidence, p.49-52; p. 60-68.
●Return, review, and discuss second treasure hunt resources assignment
●What are “objective” or neutral” research, neutral analysis and neutral
writing in political science?
●Taking into account the nature and identity of the “audience”
●Objective writing style, grammar, vocabulary, format, organization
●What is Political Theory?
●What is American Politics?
●Use of data to support objective assertions and analysis
●Dealing with ambiguities or conflicts in or among sources
● Different types of political science writing that are “objective” in all four
areas of the major
●critical reading in the political science field.
●key concepts in researching political science: 1) professional vocabulary;
2) starting efficiently when you know an area; 3) starting efficiently when
you don’t know an area; 4) what makes a source “relevant”; 5) what
makes a relevant source “better” or “best,” and 6) the number of sources
you need to support an assertion.
● Formation of an objective, analytical thesis using the four categories of
the politics major
Assignment: Basic open-universe research problems to locate “best”
sources in American Politics problem. Briefly explain why you chose each
source and cite each source in CMS bibliography form. (40). Due Friday
of this week.
WEEK 4 September 23-27 Basic, objective political science research,
analysis and writing, con’t
●Text, Section 2, Where Do I Begin, pp, 13-42, endnote citation form, p.
244-248, Section 4, Writing Your Paper, p. 128-145
●Return, review, and discuss “best” source assignment and bibliography
●Citation form in text: Endnote citation form and footnote citation form
● Formation of a more complex, objective, analytical thesis: class exercise
● Basics of the objective, expository introduction and conclusion
●outlining: adding subissues to the main issue outline: class exercise
●Adequacy of objective analysis: clarity, relevance of data and concepts,
substantive rigor, level of appropriate detail, and responsiveness to
question asked.
●cite checking as distinguished from citation form
●Writing organization: topic sentences and paragraph structure
●proofreading your work
Assignment: 3-page paper using the sources you have decided are
“best” (American politics) (60) Due Monday. PLEASE TURN IN 2
WEEK 5 September 30-October 4 Expanding and applying objective
analysis and writing to address more complex problems in political science
●Text, Section 4, Writing Your Paper, pp. 128-145
●Return, discuss, and review 3-page paper (Friday)
●What is Comparative Politics?
● Essay exam writing: the transition to upper division writing
● Differences and similarities in objective and persuasive essay exam
● Organization of essay, quick outlining and “labeling” as organizational
techniques, substantive accuracy,” effective exam timing, appropriate level
of detail, your instructor as your audience. Class exercise, “labeling”
●What is constructive feedback and what is its value for you and others?
● In-class exercise: learning from reviewing, assessing, and giving
feedback on the work of others (with instructor “rubric” and using article
summaries from last week.
Assignment: closed universe problem in Comparative Politics: write 3page exam essay responding to prompt. (50 pts) Due Monday
WEEK 6 October 7-11 Expanding objective research, analysis and writing
in political science to more complex problems.
●Text, pp. 409-412 (further info and review: end notes and footnotes)
●Return, review, and discuss comparative politics essay assignment
●Improving your use of data to support assertions: class exercise
●Dealing with ambiguities in sources in objective, analytical writing
●Flexibility in approach: to footnotes: how long and how detailed should
they be
●Use of external sources and plagiarism: academic honestly, proper
attribution of data, quotations, ideas, and paraphrases.
● Assignment: Begin midterm project REVISED: SEE ASSIGNMENT
DUE FRIDAY OCT. 18 (100 pts.)
WEEK 7 October 14-18 Transitioning from objective research, analysis
and writing in political science to “position” research, analysis and writing.
●Text, Section 3, Finding the Evidence: Review relevant parts
●More complex analytical objective research, analysis and writing
●Objective research methodologies and techniques vs. persuasive
research methodologies and techniques
●Determining when you have found the “answer” / how many sources
does it take?
●Sufficiency of research: knowing when to stop: objective vs.
argumentative research and analysis
● Review: reliability of data
● Cite checking and citation form revisited
●Purpose and form for footnotes within text, revisited
●Flexibility of approach: relationships among research data, issues,
thesis, and outline.
Assignment: 5-page paper with footnotes using ongoing, open-universe
problem in American Politics, with footnotes included in text. (100) DUE
WEEK 8 October 21-25 Transitioning to more complex problems in
political science that require an argumentative position.
● Developing “position” analysis: format, credibility and ethics
● The thesis in argumentative writing.
● Introduction to making an oral presentation: objective vs. argumentative
● Oral presentations: style, tone, format, professionalism
● Oral presentations: fielding easy and hard questions
● Oral presentations: clarity, accuracy, use of supporting data, level of
● The elements of good timing in oral presentations
Assignment: Prepare 5-minute (objective) oral presentation and 5 minute
answer period for research problem just turned in.
WEEK 9 October 28-November 1 Expanding research, analysis and/or
writing into the oral presentation
Assignment: Rewrite your 5-page objective paper as a 3-page position
paper that tells your state Senator, Diane Feinstein, the correct position
(see assignment) DUE: FRIDAY 11/8
WEEK 10 November 4-8 Argumentative or advocacy writing in the political
science, continued
● Text, Writing your persuasive paper: “Critical Papers,” pp. 145-155
●Making the transition from objective to persuasive/advocacy writing and
analysis, con’t
●Specific types of political science writing that involve advocacy or
persuasive writing
● Taking into account sources that weaken or contradict your position
● Understanding the task, reviewed
● Research strategies, reviewed
● Objective analysis as the basis of “position” analysis, reviewed
● Citation form, end notes, footnotes, bibliography, reviewed
● Keeping track of sources, reviewed.
● Types and sufficiency of data, reviewed
● Effective organization of persuasive analysis, con’t
Assignment: Begin research on final paper
WEEK 12 November 18-22 More complex forms of persuasive or advocacy
writing in political science
●Researching persuasive problems, con’t: intellectual honesty and
examining both positive and negative sources or data
●Revisiting how to find and take into account data and sources that
support the position argued.
●Revisiting how to find and take into account data and sources that
weaken the position argued
●Revisiting how to take into account ambiguities in data and sources that
contradict the position argued
●Developing more specific methods tor taking into account “negative”
sources or data: distinguishing, discounting, acknowledging ambiguity or
conflict, or demonstrating weak relevance or, demonstrating irrelevance
Assignment: Continue research on final paper. Tentative outline,
tentative thesis and preliminary list of sources for final paper. DUE 11/25
WEEK 13 November 25-29 No class on 11/27 and 11/29: Thanksgiving
● The complex political science problem: next steps
● When should you try to use humor?
WEEK 14 December 2-6 The final phase of working on the open-universe,
complex argumentative or persuasive problem in political science.
●Text: Review all relevant parts needed
●Return, review, and discuss final paper outline, thesis, etc.
●Research strategies revisited
●Honing the issues, thesis, and analysis for the complex argumentative
●Review of flexibility in approach, position taken, thesis statement,
feedback received, and new research data or information found
●Putting it altogether in the complex, argumentative paper
Assignment: 8-page, open-universe persuasive paper. Due at time and
place of final exam next Monday (please see College schedule)
♫♫ May you & your loved ones have a blessed & happy holiday ♫♫