Paper Fall 2009

Basic Facts

Length: 10 – 11 pages, dbl-spaced, 12-pt font, 1-in. margins.

Don’t go over 11 pages!

Prospectus Due: September 22 24
Rough Draft Due: November 24 ; bring one copy for peer-editing, email the other to the professor
Final Draft Due: December 18 at 4 pm (during finals).
Grade weight:  40 points

Reminder Regarding Late Papers: Late papers will be graded down 5 points for each day late, to a maximum of 50% credit for the assignment.  No matter how late a paper is, it will always be worth submitting (you will always have an opportunity to get at least 50% credit).

You have 2 options:

Option 1:  Research Paper.

You choose a question about global politics and seek to answer it.  For instance, you might want to answer the following question:  “Why did the United States choose to invade Iraq?”

A research paper, then, is focused on explanation.

Option 2:  Policy Paper.

You choose a question about the appropriate foreign policy for a country.  For instance, you might want to answer the following question:  “Should the United States cease all military involvement in Iraq?”

A policy paper, then, is focused on prescription.


Due September 24, email to the Professor

Length:  1 page

Points:  Worth 5 of the 40 points.


In your prospectus, you must do the following things:
1.  State the main research or policy question you plan to answer.
2.  Briefly explain why it is important.
3.  Briefly summarize possible alternative answers to the question.
4.  List at least 4 sources that you plan to use from outside of class.

Rough Draft

Due November 24  – bring 1 printed copy to class, email the other to the professor

Points:  Worth 5 of the 40 points.

General Paper Guidelines

The paper should address a question about global politics.
In writing the paper, you must do the following things:

  1. Clearly articulate a central question.
  2. Clearly articulate your answer to the question.  These are argumentative papers.
  3. Explain the significance of the question.
  4. Support your answer.
  5. Evaluate alternative answers.
  6. Use at least 4 outside sources: 1 book, 1 academic article, 1 news article, 1 primary source (see note on sources below)
  7. Use at least 2 sources from class readings.
  8. Use concepts from the course.  For example:
    • balance of power
    • security dilemma
    • norms
    • compliance
    • vulnerability interdependence
  9. Reference Section (Does not count as part of your page count.)
  10. Formatting: Include page numbers, use a title, and use headers to separate sections of the paper.


Your outside references can come from the following:

  • Books
  • Academic Journals (articles from political science or public policy journals are likely to be most relevant)
  • Newspapers (it is suggested that you stick to major national papers such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal)
  • Magazines (again, use major magazines, such as Newsweek or The Economist)
  • Primary sources: Government documents, for instance.

DO NOT use these sources:

  • Wikipedia
  • Web content which is not from one of the suggested published sources listed above

How to cite your sources

You must use in-text parenthetical citations according to the author-date system described by the Chicago Manual of Style. Directions on citations can be found here:


On Writing

All Essays: Some Writing Guidelines for Political Scientists

On Policy Papers. There is no “one way” to do it, but the following websites might prove useful:

More General Advice on Writing

Paper Structure

This is a social science paper. One very rough outline of how you might structure a paper is as follows:

I. Introduction: briefly state your research/policy question and answer
II. Describe the significance of your topic; provide any necessary background
III. Support your answer
IV. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of at least one alternative answer.
V. Conclude. Summarize all your arguments and tell us why this is significant.

But remember, this isn’t the only way to do things. Ask for help if you need it!

Other Resources: Link to my wiki


My Grading Criteria