This class is a lab-style seminar in which we will design, ﬁeld, and analyze an experimental study in political psychology. Our ultimate goal is to prepare a scholarly article for submission to a peer-reviewed journal of political science. This is an ambitious project that will require a substantial commitment from each student. It will also require ﬂexibility since the course may evolve – perhaps substantially – during the semester in response to the needs of the project, our results, and issues raised by students. In particular, you will be expected to work in small groups with your colleagues throughout the semester both inside and outside the class to facilitate the design, implementation, and analysis of our experiment.
While this course presents a unique set of challenges, it will also present you with unique opportunities for creative thinking, problem solving, and collaborative learning. You may have no better opportunity for gaining hands-on experience in designing, conducting, and presenting actual political science research.
For more information (there will be some changes in the assigned readings), here is a preliminary syllabus (pdf).
Plan of the course
Unit 1: Why experiments?
We will discuss the goals of science, the structure and value of experiments, and the concepts of statistical inference and causation. This portion of the course will begin with class discussion of assigned readings, a review of the basics of statistical inference, and an orientation to the statistical package we will use in class.
To encourage engagement with these materials, you will be asked to design their own experiment and to offer analytical critiques of your colleagues proposals.
Unit 2: Get your hands dirty
The class will design and conduct an experiment. With my guidance, students will survey recent articles in political science and psychology, identify a promising theory or unresolved question, and write a short paper proposing an experiment that we could carry out.
After these proposals have been presented, the class will decide which speciﬁc question to pursue.
We will then break into groups to design different portions of the experiment, which will be revised and combined. After ﬁnalizing the design and obtaining human subjects approval to conduct the study, we will collect experimental data from online participants on Amazons Mechanical Turk or an equivalent service.
Unit 3: Explaining what we got
We will work together to analyze the data and construct a manuscript reporting our ﬁndings. Each student will draft one part of the article (e.g., introduction, theory, procedures). I will combine these individual components into a draft manuscript that we will revise collaboratively.
Unit 4: Revise and resubmit
Each student will develop a critique of the paper’s writing, argument, quantitative analysis, and experimental design, with recommendations for revisions. These proposed revisions will then (hopefully) be integrated into a manuscript that will be submitted to a scholarly journal after the completion of the course.
Participation in revisions after the class ends will be totally optional.
- Class participation - 25%
- Short (one page) assignment and Wiki participation - 20%
- Proposed experiment - 15%
- Contribution to the article - 15%
- Proposed revisions to the article - 25%