The aim of this portion of the course, interspersed throughout the semester, is to improve your research and writing skills for further work within the social science disciplines in general, and political science in particular.
We will follow Scott’s and Garrison’s Political Science Writer’s Manual but also introduce other material to illustrate methods, skills and procedures.
Although this material is introduced each week (in the order below), you can also follow this page and its links as a self-contained program of study.
To the Student
“Wikipedia is like an old and eccentric uncle. He can be a lot of fun-over the years he’s seen a lot and he can tell a great story. He’s also no dummy; he’s accumulated a lot of information and as some strong opinions about what he’s gathered. You can learn quite a bit from him. But take everything he says with a grain of salt. A lot of the things he thinks he knows for sure aren’t quite right, or are taken out of context. And when it comes down to it, sometimes he believes things that are a little bit, well, nuts. If it ever matters to you whether something he said is real or fictional, it’s crucial to check it out with a more reliable source.”
Scott and Garrison, Chapter 13: Comparing political systems
Scott and Garrison, Chapter 3: Developing an effective writing style
Scott and Garrison, Chapter 8: Explain and evaluate the work of others
S&G miss a vital part of the book review process. Whenever you read something, before you even devote time to reading it, you want to know where it comes from. Who wrote it and who were they? Why read something by them? When, where, why did they write it, and under what circumstances? Usually at least some of this belongs in the review, too. Exegesis begins with understanding the originator.
Scott and Garrison, Chapter 9: Organizing the research process
S&G suggest four steps in organizing research
7. establish an effective process (panic early – avoid the rush, particularly if you are using the writing centre)
8. find and evaluate quality print and online material (don’t rely on Massey; use Stauffer).
9. Develop a working bibliography (Google scholar ‘cite’ helps keep your citation style consistent)
10. Conduct a formal literature review (be systematic; use APA format in your research notes so you don’t lose any information about sources)
Scott and Garrison, Chapter 12: Analyzing legislation (we will adapt this to consider Hansard and Canadian processes)
Scott and Garrison, Chapter 2: Review the basics of grammar and style
It’s an American book, but all those extra vowels are an important part of your culture. Don’t lose them!