Introductory Meeting



Developing a Topic

Select two different topics that you believe might be an interesting and rewarding subject for your thesis.

Assignment: On a single sheet of paper do the following for each topic:

- Describe the topic in a simple paragraph.

- In a second simple paragraph, describe why this topic is worthy of study.

- Write a draft thesis title.

- Be prepared to orally present this assignment in class.

- Bring in a newspaper article that somehow is related to one of your two topics.


Reviewing Past Theses

A. We will read two past award-winning theses, selected by relevance to current student topics

B. Sharpening the Topic, Developing Theory

Note: For the next three weeks, we will be discussing methodological choices. During this time, you are expected to be ready to discuss the assigned readings. You should also be reading on your topics and developing a bibliography and knowledge of existing research.



Methodological Choices I - Quantitative vs. Qualitative Methods

Discussion of causality, measurement, validity



Methodological Choices II - Case Studies and Small-N Comparisons



Meeting with Library Staff to Review Research Tactics and Strategies



Methodological Choices III - Rational Choice



Literature Review

Write a review of the literature relevant to both of your topics from the first assignment. Find at least a dozen references-books, book chapters, and journal articles-on both topics. Skim them quickly. Then write two papers, one on each topic, two pages in length.

- Provide the basic bibliographic information for each citation.

- For each citation provide a short paragraph on the research question and the findings.

- Summarize the literature development in each of your topics, ending with an assessment of the major puzzles or questions that remain to be explored.


Class Presentations of Existing Research

Find one example of research related to one of the topics you identified for the session 2 class. This can either be a book or an article. Write a two-page paper in which you discuss the research method and findings of the study. This paper should do the following:

- Describe the research focus of the study, why it is significant, its general method and most important findings.

- Identify the principal dependent variable and independent variables involved in the study and describe how they were measured.

- Assess the findings. Did the study, on its own terms, succeed?


Methodological Pitfalls



Pick a Topic



Addressing Remaining Methodological Issues

Write a three-page memo that discusses the methodological and data analysis issues associated with your project. Address three topics:

- Case Selection: Which cases are selecting and why?

- Measurement: What are your principal variables and how do you propose to measure them?

- Data gathering: Where will you get your data?


Presentation of Prospectus

The prospectus should be based on drafts of previous assignments and should contain the following:

- Title

- Problem statement

- Literature analysis

- Methodology and data discussion

- Expected findings and conclusions


Presentation of Prospectus (cont.)


Course Info