This section features descriptions for both the reaction papers and the article-length research paper.
Each student will write three reaction papers during the semester. These should be emailed to the instructors the day preceding class by 4 pm. They will be worth 20 percent of the final grade collectively. Each paper should be no longer than 4 double-spaced pages.
The papers are intended to be thoughtful discussions of the reading material. We are looking not for simple summaries or regurgitation of the readings, but rather an inquisitive exploration: what questions did the authors ask? Are their answers adequate? What additional data or analyses would have addressed the question more completely? Might you have posed the question differently? What questions remain to be asked?
The majority of your grade – 60 percent – will be based on a final article-length research paper, which is due at the end of the term. This paper must include original data analysis, and in form and substance should resemble a political science journal article such as those that appear on the syllabus.
An abstract or prospectus for this paper is due at the Media Effects class meeting. The abstract should pose your questions and hypotheses and outline your analysis strategy: the data and methods you will use to address these questions. The instructors will provide written feedback on your abstract.
Your paper should ask a question that can be addressed empirically. You may wish to tweak an existing model of political behavior, including new variables. Or you may consider testing an approach previously used for one kind of dependent variable on another – seeing whether Plutzer's developmental model of voting (see the Voter Turnout readings in the readings section) applies to other phenomena such as party identification or ideological self-identification, for example. Many topics in political behavior are permissible; we urge you to consult the instructors about ideas for data sources and approaches.