Constructing an Argument
When asked to give advice about writing political science papers, Professor Ellen Andersen explained that most papers written for political sciences classes are arguments. “However,” she said, “do not write a persuasive essay about your opinion on the subject. Instead, take evidence and use it to support an academic argument. Use this academic argument to show your learning. Do not decide on an argument you want to make and then make it, regardless of what the evidence says. Be sure to engage with the other side of the debate honestly. Rather than dismissing it, think about it. That is how real growth happens.” For most assignments, you can follow a very basic format for an academic argument. Begin the process by finding trustworthy information. Then explore your material and orgranize your thoughts in a manner that works best for you. You can then start to construct your thesis statement.
The basic format of a political science essay
- The Introduction should articulate a clear argument and outline the paper’s structure explicitly. It can be a couple of sentences or a couple of paragraphs, or even a couple of pages for a really long paper. Make sure that your thesis responds to all aspects of the assignment.
- To show how your argument builds on previous research on your topic, include a literature review. You can do this as part of your introduction, in a section immediately following your introduction, or within each of your body sections, whichever seems most appropriate for your paper.
- Body Sections
- You can have as many body sections as you need.
- Body sections just mean you’re making a point about one aspect of your topic. They can have just one paragraph or as many as you need to make your point. For example, if you’re talking about the process of a bill becoming a law, you’re going to have subtopics within those over-arching sections, like what happens in the House, what happens in the Senate, and then what happens when they both finally agree on a version of the bill-and that's okay. Just be aware of staying on-topic and transitioning smoothly from one to the next.
- How to set up your body paragraphs
- Small thesis: what is this paragraph about? It should be your starter sentence, and also tie neatly into the last sentence (flow is important)!
- Evidence and analysis. The important thing to remember here is that you're not going “Quote 1,” “Quote 2,” “Quote 3,” and then analysis of quote 2, analysis of quote 3. You should be giving your evidence and analyzing it as you go; tell us what it means that the House is mad about an amendment the Senate added to a bill before you assault us with a quote about how the President feels.
- Summarizing/transition sentence. Finish up what you're saying, and then in the same sentence or another sentence, explain the train of thought that leads to your next point/paragraph.
- Your conclusion should tie back to your thesis, but do not just restate your thesis.
- Before writing your conclusion, take this opportunity to review your essay. Does your essay follow your thesis statement? Have you created an argument and provided evidence that supports this thesis? If yes, then go on to write your conclusion. If no, consider changing your thesis (and revising as appropriate).
- Be careful that the restatement of the thesis doesn't seem like you're copying and pasting your thesis statement from the introduction. Your conclusion needs to be the summation of your entire essay; it’s your chance to state your point strongly and tie up any loose ends.
- Do not introduce new figures or statistics or evidence to prove your point. You should be done with introducing information. Now you're telling us what it means, why it's significant on a broader scale or in a bigger picture, and why we should care.
- Your conclusion should tie back to your thesis, but do not just restate your thesis.
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Outlining, Grouping, Mind mapping, Free writing… Organize your thoughts!
Conceptual and factual knowledge is essential in a political science paper–interesting metaphors, grand generalizations, and a lot of “BS” will not lead to a smart paper (and will be quickly recognized by your professor). The key is to develop a solid argument with supportive evidence. It is also essential that you understand your argument in order to convincingly and eloquently present it to the reader–if you're not sure, the reader won’t be either!
There are many different ways to go about organizing a paper. To perfect that crucial organization element, consider using one of the four common approaches illustrated below. Each example is for an essay exploring connections between political power and power over the media.
- Make an outline! Outlines can tell you how organized your paper is, where there are holes in your argument that require more research, or where information may need to be cut.
See Detailed Outline.
- If you don't like the strict formatting of an outline, try organizing your thoughts through bulleted lists.
See Bulleted List
- If you like diagrams, consider drawing a mind map or web that shows the connections between your ideas.
See Mind Map/Web
- If you're more of a puzzler, try writing your information on separate note cards and then rearranging them to physically build a picture of your argument. This can also be done electronically by typing up all of your information and then rearranging it on a computer.
See Notecard Puzzle
- If you don't yet know what sections to break your paper into, try starting with a free write that focuses on the prompt. You can see what ideas you have and start to find some connections between them.
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Write a Thesis Statement!
A thesis is…
- …an arguable statement that will serve as a condensed version of the argument that you make in the paper.
- …not a factual statement about your topic.
- …your opportunity to make an assertive claim that you will then back up using your collected evidence in your body paragraphs. In essence, it will provide a “roadmap” for the rest of the paper.
- …not necessarily just one sentence.
How do I construct my thesis statement?
- After having organized all of the information that you consider pertinent to the prompt, you will have likely noticed some form of argument that all your information is building to. Investigate this further and determine if there is some sort of claim that your evidence naturally points to.
- If you did not see a natural argument emerging, dig further, rearrange your information to see if something else emerges, or consider doing more research that would provide you with more information on the topic.
- Pull out the key ideas from the argument that you begin to see forming and write down what you think you could argue. Remember that a thesis can be rewritten many, many times and what you write down first is in no way set in stone. In fact, you should spend some time rewriting and reevaluating your thesis in order to see if the claim you are making is really what you want to say.
- You may feel more comfortable writing out your claims and information first and then seeing where the essay takes you. In this case, it may work better for you to come up with a simple thesis first, without tinkering heavily with the meaning or the wording. However, it is important to return to your preliminary thesis after having written the entire paper in order to refine it and ensure its essence is still true to the paper.
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Finding Trustworthy Information
Evidence and information combine to form the backbone of a Political Science essay, as these crucial pieces support your thesis and all of the claims you make therein. When your paper uses accurate and carefully selected facts, your argument becomes harder to debunk and proves to your professor that you understand the material as well as the research process. Sadly, certain people stand to gain from pushing false information on the generally uninformed and careless public. The following suggestions should help you find objective and truthful evidence in your research process.
- Start looking for information early - when you have an idea of your topic
- Looking for evidence at the last minute can lead to decreased standards and pulling questionable facts from untrustworthy sources
- Use the librarys available resources - particularly the online databases - rather than Google
- These databases contain vast amounts of published information, usually written by experts in the field
- Be on the lookout for signs of deceit in a source, such as
- Making things sound scarier or worse than they actually are
- Presenting ideas/data that seem too good to be true
- Results that have not been replicated, or seem like standalone occurrences
- The group that publishes/conducts a study benefiting greatly from the results (potential bias/impartiality)
- For example, if the NRA funded a study showing how gun ownership is tied to economic prosperity, they would gain members and donations thus, we should make sure theyre being impartial in their research methods
- Analyze evidence skeptically, but not cynically
- Look thoroughly at evidence from research sources and only use that piece of information if everything seems to check out and doesnt leave you feeling unsure - implement a healthy skepticism while looking at facts
- Avoid becoming a cynic who rejects every piece of information without considering it
- This makes you just as gullible as someone who accepts everything they read, as people can play upon your inclination to reject facts to spin your understanding of issues in their favor
- The key distinction is that a skeptic will realize a piece of information is trustworthy, while a cynic will never believe anything, regardless of its veracity
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WHAT IS POLITICAL SCIENCE?
Why should we learn this discipline? Why is it so important nowadays? The answer to all these questions is evident and quite simple. Politics affects our lives directly or implicitly, whether we are aware of it or not. It touches almost every single aspect of our lives including the accessibility of healthcare, jobs, education, and housing. It is surely essential for every citizen to be informed about all political issues and be involved in a political life of country. Especially, it is essential for future politicians who should know that one day they will be required to write a political science resume.
It is a really interesting and significant social discipline. It studies the process of formation and existence of the state, political institutions, their impact on human activity and interaction between citizens and the state. Politology is a broad discipline and writing a political science paper can help students gain and develop a conscious perception of a civil background of different countries and current events as well as analyze main tendencies and understand what is going on in the world around us and society we live in. Therefore, if one thinks that this science is an easy one to study, he or she does not get the whole picture correctly.
Writing a research paper in political science is a more complex piece of work as it requires profound research and helps to learn key social and civil issues, develop critical thinking skills, analyze, and differentiate information we receive from mass media.
The difficulty of mastering this magnificent discipline lies in the presence of plurality of dates, names, and political processes. Studying this science requires not only comprehension of the theory and implementation of practical tasks, but also creativity to attract readers' attention to burning problems and matters. That is why many students google "how to write a good political science paper" in order to find some useful writing tips and hints and take a look at several work samples.
Any type of paper is a presentation not only of your ideas, but also those ideas and knowledge that you acquired during the course. It can show whether you understand the subject or not. Therefore, if you have a task related to writing in political science, you will need to work hard and read a lot of specialized literature. You will have to go to the library and find as many books on the subject as you can, so your ideas can be backed up by some factual data. You will have to write down some theories created by professionals in the field to make your paper sound persuasive. Moreover, material presented in your political science dissertation should be relevant, useful, and interesting to review.
Politology elaborates on politics, which role in society is gigantic; it connects all segments of society and influences them actively. At the same time, it affects the destiny of society and relations between people having an impact on daily life of each person. That is why students, who take politology classes, have to find out how to write a political science thesis paper. All citizens are concerned with policy issues, political systems, democracy, political power, and the state itself. It may happen that some of the citizens are less concerned, but they will feel the consequences of political decisions anyway. If you are a student right now and you are planning of becoming a politician one day, start thinking what you will include in your cover letter. Political science is just a theory, so make sure you have some practical experience as well.
WRITING A POLITICAL SCIENCE RESEARCH PAPER
It's going to be a very important part of your studying process as you will not be able to avoid completing this task. While taking the given course, students, from time to time, face such tough and exciting task as political science essay writing. An excellent article informs, encourages, and persuades readers. Also, it must be clearly argued, logically structured, and well written. Therefore, you will not be able to write it in 5-10 minutes; you will have to spend a lot of time gathering information and transferring it into an interesting text.
The first step in political science term paper writing is coming up with a paper topic that is the most interesting for you. Certainly, to elaborate on the chosen topic, you will have to spend a lot of time in the library examining piles of books and other relevant sources very carefully.
To collect necessary information, you should conduct extensive research and evaluate overwhelming set of various data for your case study. Political science is a serious course, and it may help generate ideas and find some new ways to already existing approaches related to the given subject.
Nevertheless, even if you possess a theoretical background for your political science thesis, you will have to present evidence in order to back up your thoughts and ideas. Moreover, students should keep in mind paper formatting style requirements to submit an excellent paper. A structure may vary depending on professor's requirements but usually, the political paper structure is the following:
- body sections
- reference list.
Almost all students have a hard time when it comes to formatting their master thesis. Political science is not a discipline, which can be neglected. For above-mentioned reasons, many students find this task to be very hard and procrastinative.
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