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PL SC 412: International Political Economy (World Campus)

World Campus

Term Paper Overview

  • You will write a term paper on a relevant topic of interest to you.  The basic idea is for you to apply a theory or small set of theories to an issue in international political economy to drive predictions regarding the likely course of events over the next 5-10 or 10- 20 years. You will work on the paper in stages and be graded on your work over the course of the semester.  After submitting a rough draft, you will review another student’s paper and get peer feedback on your draft.

Term Paper Stages

1.  Research Paper Topic: You will write a short paragraph outlining the general topic of your research paper. General topics include, but are not limited to, trade relations, hegemony, the exchange rate, development and globalization. You will then describe the specific subtopic you are interested in. If, for example, your general topic is globalization, some subtopics might be sweatshops or the effect of globalization on the environment.

2.  Research Question: You will write one short paragraph that first presents your initial research question. Make sure that your research question asks what factors, variables, or conditions affect some aspect of your subtopic and focuses on cause-and-effect relationships.

  • You should avoid descriptive and prescriptive questions.  The former leads to research papers that simply describe a process or an event, while the latter results in research papers that tell us what we can or should do to change, fix, or prevent some undesirable situation.
  • For example, if your subtopic is the effect of globalization on the environment under the general topic of the globalization, an appropriate research question might be “under what conditions will countries cooperate to reduce pollution?” Inappropriate research questions might be “which states are the biggest polluters?” and “what should be done to reduce pollution?”

3.  Bibliography: You will submit a preliminary bibliography that should consist primarily of scholarly works associated with your research topic, such as books, journal articles, and other published studies that have been subjected to peer review. University presses, as well as many other reputable publishers, produce peer-reviewed books.

  • Good journals to search using JSTOR include:
    • American Political Science Review
    • American Journal of Political Science
    • International Organization
    • International Studies Quarterly
    • World Politics International
    • Journal of Political Economy
  • Your bibliography must follow the guidelines found in the American Political Science Association’s Style Manual for Political Science.  (See the Citations page of this guide for link.)

4.  Theory Overview: The reading you do will allow you to become acquainted with different theories (or "models" as they are often called) about the phenomenon that you’re interested in. Review the most prominent or compelling theories. If there are competing theories, highlight their distinguishing factors.

5.  Thesis Statement: You will write one or two sentences that represent your thesis statement. This thesis statement should be a concise summary of your research paper’s argument or analysis. In other words, the thesis statement summarizes your findings, your predictions and your argument. It is “the punch line” of your paper and what follows fills out and supports this statement.

6.  Detailed Outline: You will provide a detailed outline of the various sections of your research paper. These sections may include, but are not limited to, the introduction (including your thesis statement), theory review, analysis, and conclusions.

7.  Rough Draft: You will submit a rough draft of your research paper for peer review. This draft does not have to be perfect. It simply represents your first attempt to put your thoughts in final form. However, the more work you put into this rough draft, the more likely it is that you will receive useful feedback from the peer review. You will get full credit for submitting the draft. (I will not be grading content at this point.) If you do not submit the rough draft you WILL NOT get any credit for completing a peer review.

8.  Peer Review:  You will provide constructive feedback on one classmate’s rough draft.  Using track changes and the insertion of comments, offer as much constructive criticism on your classmate’s paper as possible.  Constructive criticism is criticism that is intended to improve the paper and often identifies solutions to problems in a positive and productive way.  You might want to think about this peer review as a valuable opportunity to improve your own writing; as you edit and comment upon your classmate's work, you might discover things that you should or should not do in future essays and research papers. You will not get credit for this portion if you do not submit a rough draft yourself.

9.  Final Paper: Your final paper must be between 6-8 pages in length, double-spaced with 12-point Times New Roman font and 1-inch margins. Your paper must also include proper parenthetical citations and bibliography, following the guidelines found in the American Political Science Association’s Style Manual for Political Science.  (See the Citations page of this guide for link.)  Please upload your paper in Word (or Pages), not pdf.