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POL S 499 D: Undergraduate Readings and Research

F 11:20am - 12:20pm / DEN 213
F 12:30pm - 1:20pm / DEN 213
Becca Thorpe
Rebecca U. Thorpe

Syllabus Description:

CAPPP Program Description 

The CAPPP Research Fellowship is designed to teach political science majors how to conduct original social science research. This Fall we will learn what it means to engage in social science reasoning; to identify and critique existing social science research; and to apply social science approaches to analyze information about politics. Our primary goals this quarter are 1) to develop an interesting and feasible research question, 2) to identify relevant data sources and 3) to develop an initial research design that will allow you to examine that question using scientific criteria. Meanwhile, we will also learn how to analyze these data using statistical research methods.


Required Material

Lisa Baglione. 2020. Writing a Research Paper in Political Science: A Practical Guide to Inquiry, Structure, and Methods, 4th Ed. CQ Press. [LB]

Christopher Howard. 2017. Thinking Like a Political Scientist: A Practical Guide to Research Methods. University of Chicago Press [CH]


Recommended Material

Nick Huntington-Klein. 2022. The Effect: An Introduction to Research Design and Causality. Chapman & Hall. Digital copy available at:


Note: The texts are available through CQ, University of Chicago Press and other online retailers for prices ranging from $10-$30 each. Please talk to Ryan or Becca if you have trouble locating or purchasing any of these texts.


Covid Policies

Masks are recommended inside UW facilities, as per UW policy. Masks are available at no cost at locations on each campus. Please refer to the university webpage for additional information.


Your Physical & Mental Health

Your physical and psychological health takes precedence over everything that we are doing in class. Please let me know ASAP if you are experiencing difficulties related to illness, financial challenges, family circumstances or any other hardship. We will make every attempt to make appropriate accommodations so that can succeed in the CAPPP program while prioritizing your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.



Fall and Winter quarter grades register as independent study credits and are based on weekly assignments and quarter milestones that advance important components of your research project. Spring quarter grades count toward the POL S major and are evaluated on the basis of your final research project. All grades are calculated the 4.0 scale.


Learning Statistics in R

Throughout the quarter, we will learn to use a statistical software program called R. We will learn the basics in weekly lab sessions with Ryan beginning on October 7. There will be weekly assignments designed to teach you the skills that you’ll need in order to analyze and interpret your own data in Winter quarter. You should feel free to work together on these exercises.


Fall Quarter Agenda

At the end of the quarter, you will turn in a final paper that includes 1) a research question that Ryan and I have approved; 2) a falsifiable hypothesis; 3) alternative rival hypothesis; 4) a review of the literature related to your question; 5) a preliminary research design (e.g., how you will test your hypothesis), and 6) identification of data sources and/or a data collection plan. Everything that we do during Fall quarter is meant to advance these goals and help you to successfully complete this research design paper.


Religious Accommodations

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (


Important deadlines

Sept 30 – Introductions/ Preliminary research questions

Oct 7- Formulating research questions

Oct 14 – Revised RQ & article summaries

Oct 21 – Falsifiable theory & sample literature review

Oct 28 – Revised lit review & hypotheses, Swirl R practice exercise

Nov 4 – Data sources & measurement

Nov 11 - Alternative hypotheses

Nov 18 – R exercise

Nov 23 – R exercise – note Wednesday deadline!

Dec 2 - Research design paper draft

Dec 9 – R exercise

December 14 – Final research design paper (see below for template)


Autumn 2022 Syllabus

Research Paper Template

Catalog Description: 
Intensive study with faculty supervision.
Department Requirements: 
No Major/Minor Credit
GE Requirements: 
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
February 13, 2023 - 8:30pm