Writing in Political Science: A Brief Guide

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1/22/2016
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Writing in Political Science: A Brief Guide applies the key concepts of rhetoric and composition--audience, purpose, genre, and credibility--to examples based in political science. It is part of a series of brief, discipline-specific writing guides from Oxford University Press designed for today's writing-intensive college courses. The series is edited by Tom Deans (University of Connecticut) and Mya Poe (Northeastern University).

Author Biography

Mika LaVaque-Manty is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan.

Danielle LaVaque-Manty earned a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Michigan and an MFA in creative writing at The Ohio State University. She currently freelances as an academic editor and writing consultant.

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Thinking and Writing Like a Political Scientist
Thinking Like a Political Scientist
Subfield differences in political science
Thinking Like a Writer: understanding how reader expectations affect rhetorical choices
Common Genres of Political Science Writing
Common Genres in Political Science Courses
How to Use This Book

Chapter Two: Decoding Your Writing Assignment
Decoding the Assignment Prompt
How to Handle a Confusing Prompt
Decoding the Assignment Checklist

Chapter Three: The Writing Process -- Literature Reviews and Research Papers
Deciphering the Scholarly Conversation
Finding a Research Question
Determine how to answer your question: Understanding theories, cases, and comparisons
Connecting a Theory to a Case
Structuring Arguments: From notes and data to an outline to a paper
Crafting Effective Introductions: First pass
The body of your paper: Structural options
Literature reviews: Conversing with sources and the problem of the disappearing author
Deploying persuasive evidence: Cherry picking sources vs. grappling with counterarguments
Concluding with Strength
Two Versions of the "So What?" Question
Limitations and Future Directions
The First Shall Come Last: Crafting Titles
Just when you thought you were finished: Strategies for revision
Checklist for Writing Effective Papers

Chapter Four: Writing About Data You Collect Yourself -- Research Proposals and IMRD Papers
Types of Data
Discussing Data Collected by Others
How Did They Frame the Research Question?
Entering the Scholarly Conversation: Proposing your own research
The Introduction to Your Research Proposal
The Methods Section of Your Research Proposal
Collecting and Analyzing Your Data
Drawing clear pictures with data: Practical and ethical dos and don'ts for visuals
Common Ways of Presenting Data
The Ethics and Rhetoric of Visuals
The IMRD Paper
The Abstract
Final polishing: Titles and revision
Checklist for Writing Papers About Data You Collect Yourself

Chapter Five: Writing Response Papers, Applying Theories to Cases, Advocacy Papers, and Blog Posts
Response Papers
Checklist for Response Papers
Applying Theories to Cases
Checklist for Applying Theories to Cases
Advocacy Papers
Checklist for Advocacy Papers
Blog Posts
A Caution About Blogs and Intellectual Property
Checklist for Blog Posts

Chapter Six: Style Is Meaning
Crafting Clear Prose
Context and Emphasis
Choosing Precise Verbs
Avoiding Common Missteps
Grandiose Claims
Unintentional Sexism
Checklist for Writing with Style

Chapter Seven: Selecting and Citing Sources
Defining Primary and Secondary Sources
Locating Credible Primary Sources
Locating Credible Secondary Sources
Checklist for Choosing Credible Sources
Paraphrasing vs. Quoting vs. Summarizing
Integrating direct quotations into your writing
Editing quoted text for grammatical consistency
Direct Quotation Checklist
The Art of Summarizing
The Art of Paraphrasing
Paraphrasing Checklist
Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism
Patchwork Plagiarism
Common Citation Styles in Political Science
Why to Cite
When to Cite
When to Cite Checklist
How to Cite
Common Errors to Avoid in Chicago Style
Common Errors to Avoid in APSA Style

Appendix A: Seeking and Using Feedback
Appendix B: Further Information on Collecting and Representing Data
Research Guides
Visualizing Data

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