Research Project (60% of total grade).

As a class you will be divided into several groups I will group you according to general subjects, based on your individual research projects. Examples of grouping may include: “China in Africa”, or “the International Dimensions of Development in Africa”. Each group will undertake a different large-scale research project. You will be graded both for your individual effort and for the group’s effort. The final result of each project should resemble a book with at least 2 general parts:

  • Your individual research papers. This will be the bulk of the printed manuscript
  • One or two chapters written collectively that summarize and react to your individual research papers. This could take a variety of forms including one or both of the following:
    • An Introduction to the book
    • A Conclusion to the book
  • Optional: You could additionally include a brief Executive Summary for the project.

Part One: Individual Requirements for the Research Paper (40%)

Individual Due Dates

Length: 25 pages, double-spaced, 12-point font, 1-inch margins.
Research Description Due: September 22
Narrative Description of Project, with partial bibliography: October 18
Rough Draft Due: November 10
Final Draft is Due as Part of Entire Group Project: December 16 @ 2 pm
Individual Assessment of Group Project: December 16 @ 5 pm

You have 2 options

See the User’s Guide to Political Science: “Writing a Class Research Paper”, “The Research Question”, and “Policy Paper”.

Option 1: Research Paper.
You choose a question related to the course and seek to answer it. For instance, you might want to answer the following question: “Why did the United States fail to intervene during the Rwandan genocide?”

A research paper, then, is focused on explanation.

Option 2: Policy Paper.
You choose a question about the appropriate foreign policy for a country. For instance, you might want to answer the following question: “Should the United States send troops to stop the violence in Darfur?”

A policy paper, then, is focused on prescription.

Research Description Directions

See User’s Guide to Political Science, “Research Proposal or Prospectus”

You will prepare a one-page description of your proposed research question. The question should be substantively interesting and relevant. Moreover, it should be a question that can be answered using evidence, given the time and resource constraints of the course. You should be prepared to discuss your question during the class session.

1. 1 to 1½ pages.
2. Include the following information:

  • State the main research or policy question you plan to answer. This must be either the title or the first sentence.
  • Briefly explain why it is important.
  • Briefly summarize possible alternative answers to the question.
  • List 2 sources you might use

3. Email document to professor.
4. Due September 22, PRIOR to class.

Narrative Description

You will prepare a 3 – 5 page narrative description of the evidence you have gathered. This should include a clear specification of the dependent variable you wish to explain. It should highlight what is puzzling about the evidence you observe and what data supports your claim. A strong narrative description will conclude with some thoughts about the factors that might explain the patterns you have found.

  • 3 – 5 pages, not including bibliography
  • Define dependent variable/outcome/phenomenon of interest.
  • Discuss evidence and possible explanations.
  • Bibliography should include at least 7 sources.
  • Please email one copy to the professor.
  • Bring 1 copy to class
  • Due October 18 PRIOR to class

Rough Draft Directions

See User’s Guide to Political Science, “Outline and Structure”

1. Submit via
2. Bring 1 copy to class for peer editing.
3. Due November 10 PRIOR to class.

Final Individual Paper

Due as Part Of Group Project, December 16 @ 2 pm.

Assessment of Group Effort Directions (part of group project grade)

1. 1 – 2 pages
2. Assess own contribution to the group effort
3. Assess the contributions of other group members
4. React to your group’s overall project and presentation.
5. Please email to the professor.
6. Due December 16 @ 5 pm

General Paper Guidelines

The paper should address a question about Africa in world politics.

In writing the paper, you must do the following things:

  • Clearly articulate a central question. Your research question must be either the title or the first sentence.
  • Clearly articulate your answer to the question. These are argumentative papers.
  • Explain the significance of the question.
  • Support your answer.
  • Evaluate alternative answers.
  • Use at least 8 outside sources (see note on sources below)
  • Use at least 1 source from class readings.
  • Use concepts from the course. For example: patrimonialism, norms, liberal peace theory
  • Include a reference section (Does not count as part of your page count.)


As appropriate, strive to include at least one of each of the following sources:

  • Books
  • Academic Journals (articles from political science or public policy journals are likely to be most relevant)
  • Newspapers (it is suggested that you stick to major national papers such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal) or Magazines (again, use major magazines, such as Newsweek or The Economist)
  • Primary sources: Government documents, for instance.

DO NOT use these sources:

  • Wikipedia
  • Web content which is not from one of the suggested published sources listed above

If you have a question about a source, just ask!

How to cite your sources:
You must use in-text parenthetical citations according to the author-date system described by the Chicago Manual of Style. Directions on citations can be found here:

Part Two: Group Project (20%)

Group Due Dates

Group Draft Outline: November 1
Group Rough Draft: November 17
Group Presentation: Date varies; during last weeks of class.
Group Final Draft: December 16 @ 2 pm

Written Work: Introduction OR Conclusion (10%)

1. 10 pages minimum
2. Grade includes completion of a draft outline AND rough draft.
3. Should include the following information, at a minimum:

  • Statement of why the overall project/issue is important
  • Very brief (paragraph or less) summaries of the individual chapters
  • Discussion of how the individual chapters relate to each other that may include:
    • Statements of key overall findings
    • Analysis of similarities and differences among the chapters
    • Suggestion for possible future directions for research.

Group Presentation (10%)

  1. Will last no more than 40 MINUTES.
  2. Purposes:
    1. Practice at public speaking
    2. Chance to get feedback from classmates before finalizing final draft of the project
    3. Chance for us to learn from each other


Part Three: Other General Information


The Criteria I Use In Grading Papers

Note on Late Assignments:

Late papers will be graded down 5 points for each day late, to a maximum of 50% credit for the assignment. No matter how late a paper is, it will always be worth submitting (you will always have an opportunity to get at least 50% credit).

Part Four: Advice

For advice on research and writing, please confer with our new “User’s Guide to Political Science”