The Political Science Student Writer's Manual (4th Edition)

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9780130404473: The Political Science Student Writer's Manual (4th Edition)

This comprehensive, practical writer's manual—created specifically for political science writers—is designed to help readers accomplish two goals: 1) improve their writing skills and strategies and 2) learn political science at the same time. The manual considers the different types of papers common to political science writing at all levels, at the introductory level, and at the advanced level—exploring the purposes and characteristics of each paper, the steps for writing a successful paper, and typical formats. The book provides a handbook of style for political science, including formats and source-citing, a guide to distance learning and the Internet, guidelines for conducting research in political science, plus writing assignments for varied levels of writers. For individuals interested in improving their writing techniques and learning more about political science.

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From the Publisher:

A comprehensive writer's manual designed specifically for political science students.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

To the Student

This fourth edition of The Political Science Student Writer's Manual includes additions and revisions that are necessary for keeping up to date in the constantly changing world of politics, political science, and information technology. Some things, however, never change. The basic goals we pursue as students of political science, for example, have remained constant since the days of Aristotle and Plato. Successful students, like successful political scientists, will always be competent writers. As students of politics we observe political institutions and behavior. We write to record what we observe, to explain what we record, and to defend what we explain. As citizens we write to take part in making decisions that direct our nation, our community, and our private lives. From the Declaration of Independence to the Emancipation Proclamation, from the United Nations Charter to President Kennedy's inaugural address, writing has brought us the freedom we enjoy today.

The Political Science Student Writer's Manual is designed to help you do two things: (1) improve your writing; and (2) learn political science. These two objectives are addressed in the major sections of this book. The Introduction tells you what political science is all about. Intended for both first-time and experienced political science students, it offers a basic historical orientation and a challenging account of current issues and analytical techniques.

Part One addresses fundamental concerns of all writers, exploring the reasons why we write, describing the writing process itself, and examining those elements of grammar, style, and punctuation that cause the most confusion among writers in general. A vital concern throughout this part, and the rest of the book as well, is the three-way interrelationship among writer, topic, and audience. Our discussion of this relationship aims at building your self-confidence as you clarify your goals. Writing is not a magical process beyond the control of most people. It is instead a series of interconnected skills that any writer can improve with practice, and the end result of this practice is power. Chapters 1 and 2 of this manual treat the act of writing not as an empty exercise undertaken only to produce a grade but as a powerful learning tool as well as the primary medium by which political scientists accomplish their goals. Chapter 3 explains the importance of formatting the research paper properly and supplies you with format models for title pages, tables of contents, and so on. Chapter 4 explains how to cite sources and how to use source material ethically.

Part Two is new to the fourth edition. Chapter 5 introduces distance learners to some of the special challenges and opportunities they face in learning outside the traditional classroom environment. Chapter 6 provides an updated list of Internet resources relating to politics, political science, and writing.

Part Three focuses on research. Chapter 7 describes the research process in detail, explaining how you can maintain self-confidence by establishing control over your project. It also provides examples of guides to information that you will find in your college library.

The seven chapters in Parts Four, Five, and Six explain different types of papers common to political science classes. Each chapter begins by exploring the purposes and characteristics of the paper covered. Next, the steps for writing a successful paper are spelled out, and typical formats are provided. Each chapter encourages you to use your imagination and resourcefulness in confronting the requirements of the various kinds of papers. The chapters in Part Four explain writing assignments for students at all levels of college work, while Parts Five and Six provide directions for papers for introductory and advanced students, respectively.

Your professor may give you a specific paper assignment from one of these chapters. If your professor does not make your assignment specific, you may want to select an assignment and discuss your choice with your instructor before proceeding.

This manual is a reference book. It has been written to help you become a better writer. We wish you all success as you accept a primary challenge of academic and professional life: to write, and to write well.

To the Teacher

This book has been updated and improved to help you deal with two problems commonly faced by teachers of political science. First, students often need substantial specific direction to produce a good paper. How many times have you assigned papers in your political science classes and found yourself teaching the class how to write the paper—not only in terms of content but form and grammar as well? This text, which may either accompany the primary text you assign in any class or stand on its own, allows you to assign one of the types of papers described in Parts Four, Five, and Six with the knowledge that virtually everything the student needs to know, from grammar to sources of information to reference styles, is in this one volume. In addition to many updated examples throughout the text, the fourth edition features an entirely new Part Two"—Guide to Distance Learning and the Internet"—which contains Chapter 5, "The World of Distance Learning," and Chapter 6, "Internet Resources."

This manual combines the latest political science research and writing techniques with a broad spectrum of writing activities derived from our twenty-seven years of experience teaching political science and English. Special attention should be given to Chapter 11, which offers beginning students directions for writing position papers as exercises in logic and problem-solving. Whereas other writing assignments in this manual allow the student much flexibility in the writing process, the guidelines for composing position papers follow a precise formula that has proven to be successful in government, business, academic, and professional presentations throughout the country. By completing a position paper, your students will learn to become competent problem-solvers, thereby developing skills that will be helpful in every profession. In addition, such assignments require students to visit government offices to experience firsthand the operations of government.

Some of the chapters especially suited to upper-division courses are Chapter 12, "Policy Analysis Papers," Chapter 13, "Case Briefs in Constitutional Law," and Chapter 14, "Public Opinion Survey Papers."

As you know, writing skill is essential to becoming not only an effective citizen but also a successful professional in any field. This book is designed to assist you in leading students toward that success. But achieving such a goal, as you also know well, is not easy.

The second major problem faced by teachers who require written assignments is plagiarism. Although only the most exceptional diligence will eliminate plagiarism entirely, this book will help you to take one of the most effective actions to guard against it. In an age when whole papers can be downloaded from the Internet, one of the best ways to ensure that students write original papers is to make your assignments very specific. If your direction is, "Write something on the First Amendment," it is relatively easy for a student to find a paper on this subject already prepared. If, on the other hand, you provide a very specific list of instructions, such as those described in this book, students who might otherwise be tempted to submit work that is not their own will find that it does not meet the requirements of the assignment.

We wish you the best in your endeavors and welcome your comments.

Greg Scott and Steve Garrison

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