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Writing in Political Science: A Brief Guide

Mika LaVaque-Manty and Danielle LaVaque-Manty

Publication Date - 22 January 2016

ISBN: 9780190203931

224 pages
5 x 7-3/4 inches

In Stock

The ideal pocket-sized manual for undergraduate political science students who want to improve their writing


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).

About the Author(s)

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.


"For students and writing tutors who are mystified by expectations for writing in political science, this short book provides an accessible resource. For instructors and graduate students looking for a concise, foundational guide to writing in the discipline, here is a book that serves as an ideal textbook or reference." --Donna Evans, Eastern Oregon University

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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