Political Science

Limit your proposal to 10-12 double-spaced pages, excluding your bibliography. Use Times New Roman, 12pt, with minimum 1” margins. Please take these guidelines seriously. Write concise and focused.  Include a bibliography according to the citation style that you chose for your paper. Quality of the sources you use is more important than quantity. Still, seek to include at least 10 academic sources.  The following sections are for your orientation. A good proposal will be structured in a way that best serves your research question and structure, and does not have to follow each point here word for word. However, it should be structured according to these broad guidelines and include the mentioned information. Introduction/Research Problem Introduce the topic you are studying. Identify in which field of political science it is situated, and to which general area it connects. Here you should create a narrative and catch the reader’s attention. We want to be motivated to continue reading your paper. Why did this topic puzzle you and why is it relevant today, for science, for policy? For example, if you are looking at protest patterns in Israel, this may be connected to social movements more generally, to the study of Israeli politics and history, or even to the Arab Spring – depending on the direction of your research. Research Question This can be embedded in your introduction or an individual section. Develop and clearly state the question you intend to answer with your study. This may be a large question, or it may be divided into smaller questions (often in more qualitative studies) that all come together to form a lager theory.  Make sure your questions are direct and present something that can be answered. You are not asking about general themes, but rather something to which you can make a clear argument. Make sure your questions do not lead you to a “yes / no” answer, and rather allow you to develop a larger argument.  If your question seems to be too detailed think about ways to increase the “Generalizability”. It might help to think about the “universe of cases” your theory applies to. Theoretical Argument This can be embedded in the Literature Review section. Present your tentative argument, your proposed answer to your research question. The theory must directly answer your research question/s. You do not need to go into too much detail about how everything is defined in your study; rather, present your argument in a way that guides the reader to understand how and why you are going to be researching the way you intend. Literature Review This is the backbone of your theoretical argument. Present the ideas that have already been done regarding your question(s). Often these are different theories people have developed regarding what influences the dependent variable (the outcome), while you are proposing that the dependent variable is actually influenced by something else (your suggested independent variable). Present what has been done so far, and why you are adding something new (e.g. something has been overlooked or understudied). For example, if you are exploring what leads to particular types of ethnic conflict, and your argument is that education levels are the independent variable that determines the type of ethnic conflict, then your literature review should look at other theories that suggest that the type of ethnic conflict is a result of economic situations, repression, etc. You are going to present what they said, and argue that their theory does not sufficiently answer the question, and thus you are proposing your own explanation.  Do not summarize author by author and what each one has said. Synthesize arguments and present them as theories you are arguing against; or use a series of existing research to frame your new, novel, theory. Methodology/Research Design Outline and explain how you are going to conduct the study. This section can include sub headlines for hypotheses; data; operationalization; and the method. It does not necessarily include the information in exactly this order and can be adjusted for your research topic.  Testable Hypotheses: These are smaller parts of the theory that you are testing, which, if supported, confirm your theory (H1, H2, …). The hypotheses can also be articulated in your theory section. Please, decide with regard to your proposed research project.  Data: Here you can describe the dataset you use, how many cases it includes, what is the unit of analysis, in which timeframe do you look at the data. Did you have to add variables do the dataset? Who collected the data if not you? In this section it can also be possible to describe how you selected your cases for a qualitative study. Be transparent about the way you chose your cases and account for biases in your study (if you focus only on a specific region etc.) Operationalization: Define the concepts and relate them to a measurement. What do your concepts mean to you and what variable (in quantitative studies) or which indicators (in qualitative work) are you looking for as evidence? Nominal definitions (when I say x I mean) and operational definitions (in order to measure x I will look at changes in…). You must justify your definitions!  Research Design/Method: Which methods are going to be used and why? Justify your choice of method and why it is the right way to answer your research question. Contributions/Conclusion This will be the last section of your proposal. As you do not have results (because you are not actually doing the analysis), conclude your proposal by laying out how this study would contribute to the body of scientific literature. Is this going to increase our understanding of a specific case? Of a type of conflict or parliamentary system? Is it aimed at helping to develop policy? Are you coming up with a new methodology?

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