PAUS 9131/PUBP8500
Professor Gregory Streib
Alderhold 230
Wednesday 1-3:30
Course Number 16588
 

 

Research Seminar in Public Policy

 

 

A required course in the Ph.D. program in public policy, the goal of PAUS 9131 is to explore the purpose of and approaches used in public policy research. The course requires the development of original empirical research.  Objectives include: 

  1. to understand fully the professional issues in research, including criticism and review processes, obtaining and managing resources, research ethics and research career trajectories;

  2. to development skills in survey research and questionnaire analysis; and

  3. to enhance your ability to analyze and manage data.

 

 

 

REQUIRED TEXTS:

 

There are no required textbooks. All readings for the course will be provided by the instructor or tracked down by individuals. This does not mean that you should buy no books. In the first place, you should buy a research methods text if you do not have one. Second, you should begin building your research library (if you have not already) because these “tools” books will remain useful for years. You should also have some insight by now as to the professional associations you wish to join and the journals you wish to purchase.

 

 
OFFICE HOURS:

 

Your instructor will hold formal office hours from 1-3pm on  Tuesday and  Friday in room 336 of the AYSPS building.  Meetings can also be scheduled at a mutually convenient time.  You can reach your instructor by telephone at (404) 651-4448. Voice mail is activated after five rings. Electronic mail can be sent via the Internet to gstreib@gsu.edu. Fax messages can be sent to (404)651-1378.      

 

 

FINDING CLASS MATERIALS ON THE WEB:

 

The course home page can be found at the following location: vista.gsu.edu

 

This site will be available at class time, and it will offer some useful communication tools.  All class assignments will be submitted electronically via the home page.  Emailed materials will be accepted in an emergency, but this is not the preferred approach.

 

These course facilities are not to be used for personal vendettas, personal advertising, or for political or consumer marketing of any kind.  Any such postings will be removed immediately and without notice.  Repeated activities of this sort can result in dismissal from this course.

 

 

CLASS PREPARATIONS:

 

This course presumes that all students have completed a masters level course in social science research methods.  Our goal in this class is to focus on applying, and/or going beyond the knowledge and skills discussed in these courses.  If you have not had this type of a course, or if your memory has dimmed, it is strongly recommended that you review one or more of the following texts.  I list the latest editions here, but older editions may be easier to find (or cheaper) and still useful.

Earl Babbie, The Practice of Social Research, 10th edition (Wadsworth, 2004), ISBN: 0534620280.

 

Royce A. Singleton and Bruce C. Straits, Approaches to Social Research, 4th edition, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).

 

John W. Creswell, Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, 2nd edition (Sage Publications, 2004).

 

CLASSROOM RULES:

 

It is expected that students will arrive at each class with a thorough understanding of materials to be discussed.  Class assignments must be submitted on time.  There is a 5 percent penalty on any late work, and there will be an additional 5% penalty for each additional 12 hour period.  There will be no incompletes.

 

 

CLASS REQUIREMENTS:

 

To pass this course, you must:

  1. Read all of the “required” readings.

  2. Complete all class homework assignments

  3. Provide a “peer review” of a published article.

  4. Prepare a review of a research design, a draft final paper, and a final paper.

  5. Produce a research design.

  6. Produce a formal paper.  You can certainly do more original work if you find a data set on your own.  However, it may well be more efficient to get data from an instructor at Tech or GSU.  I can help students with an interest in local government.  If you get data from another instructor, presume that they are not willing to provide consultations on how to make the most of it.

  7. Most important: all of us must be actively engaged helping one another formulate and evaluate research issues and solve problems as they emerge.  This interactive learning is much more important than the actual reading material or even the research paper product.

To receive a top grade in this course and benefit most from it, you should:  

  1. Fulfill all requirements listed above

  2. Read both the “required” and the “supplemental” readings.

  3. Develop a high level of substantive knowledge of research and theory pertaining to the topic of your paper.

  4. Begin communication/correspondence with other researchers concerned with your topic.

  5. Complete by the end of the semester a high quality, theory-based empirical research paper, complete with literature review, theory overview, findings, conclusions.  The paper should be of publishable quality ready to submit to a research journal in public policy or administration.

 

CLASS ASSIGNMENTS:

 

The class assignments are discussed in greater detail below:

 

bullet

Class homework assignments: This is a seminar class, and there will be a number of homework assignments designed to help keep students fully engaged.  These assignments will play an important role during our class sessions, but there is nothing that needs to be submitted for a grade.  You will find more information about these assignments on the class outline.

 

bullet Reading Assignments:  There are three types of readings in this course:
  1. The required readings are for everyone, and the they will be an essential part of our class discussions.  

  2. The presentation readings will be assigned to single individuals.  This class will be large enough to cover all of the presentation readings.  These readings will be assigned on a weekly basis.  The reading presentations are expected to be brief.  It will probably help if you have something to give the other members of the class that will help them to understand the reading.  This could be a short summary, tables and figures, etc.  Presentations will be strictly limited to 10 minutes.  Do your best to make these presentations interesting and useful.  Reading the presentations is not allowed.

  3. The suggested readings are for those interested in a specific topic and those seeking to excel in this class.  Given the many requirements in this class, it is unlikely that anyone will find and complete all of the suggested readings, but they do make an important contribution to this course. 

bullet Research Paper Presentations:  You are required to present your research paper at three points during this course.  The first two presentations will be informal.  You will first post your idea for a research paper on the class bulletin board, and later you will post your research design.  These postings will be discussed in class, along with the reviewer comments. 

 

The third presentation will be more formal--more like what would happen at a professional conference.  Each student (or pair) will have exactly 15 minutes to present the research paper. As in a professional conference, you will be cut off if you go over time. You are encouraged to use hand-outs and/or overheads and to make the best possible use of graphics and tables. If it is a pair, you can have one or two persons present. After the 20 minutes, your designated discussant will have 10 minutes to critique your paper. Then the floor is open to students, instructor and visitors. 

 

bullet

Research Paper Reviews: Each time papers are presented, another student will be assigned to be a reviewer.  As with the presentations, the first two reviews will be posted to the class bulletin board and then incorporated into our class discussions.  The third review will be presented to an audience.

 

bullet

Complete a Research Paper:  You must complete a research paper in this class.  These papers many be in either of two forms.  They may be research reports, or they may be in the format of a publishable manuscript.  The main difference between these two formats is the presence or absence of a literature review.  Developing a literature review adds difficulty, as it requires a mastery of the subject-matter covered in the your study.  All papers must share the following characteristics:

All papers must present explicit, testable hypotheses and describe criteria for the test of hypotheses.
 

An “introduction” section should frame the issue and present a brief statement of the research and theory objectives of the paper.
 

A “data and methods” section should be included in each paper, detailing sampling procedures, approach to analysis, characteristics of the data and so forth (examples will be provided).
 

A “research questions” section should present hypotheses, relevant theory, and (if appropriate) a model.  You should at least discuss relevant literature, though a detailed literature review is not required.


A “findings” section should present statistical analysis and results.


Your “conclusions” section should summarize the chief findings and show linkages to other work. The most important part of the conclusions is to show exactly what you have explained and why it is important to have done so. After that, you may go beyond the data and, as you choose, speculate, talk about additional research needs, discuss policy relevance and implications for practice.

 

It is not required that your work be relevant to policy or management practice, only that it be sound, explanation-oriented social science.
 

Each variable employed must be described precisely.
 

A 100 word (or less) abstract must be provided after the title page.
 

Papers should meet the most stringent criteria for form, grammar, spelling and clarity. This will be discussed in class. All papers will be in APA format. For further information see: http://www.psywww.com/resource/apacrib.htm
 

Tables, figures and appendices should be provided at the end of the paper, separate from the body.
 

All material within the body of the paper must be double-spaced.
 

Pages must be numbered.
 

You must have title page listing the title, author, address, and date.
You must recapitulate the title and the abstract on the first page of the document.


Tables and figures must be printed, not drawn.
 

All material cited must be fully referenced. Papers not citing research directly relevant to one’s own research will be marked down.
 

Papers using material from another source- as little as one full sentence- without attribution will receive a grade of F. Be sure you are familiar with the honor code and definitions of plagiarism. This work must be your own.
 

Excluding tables, references and appendices, papers may be no longer than 25 double-spaced pages. There is no minimum size but 10-15 pagers is probably a good target for a draft paper that does not fully develop conclusions or literature.
 

Papers must employ questionnaire-based data (unless I grant an exemption).

 

  

QUALITY EXPECTATIONS FOR WRITTEN WORK:

 

All materials in this class are expected to meet a very high standard.  Don't even bother turning in anything thrown together at the last minute.  The following standards should be observed at all times:

  1. All arguments should be carefully presented and clearly articulated--write readably!

  2. Grammar and spelling errors should be minimal.

  3. Any tables or graphics must be free of distortion.  The basic rule is that these materials should be easy to understand without reading any accompanying text.

  4. The APA style should be used.

  5. Any facts or ideas used from other sources should be properly cited.  Even a single plagiarized sentence could change your grade in this course.

  6. Every paper should include your a title, your name, the date, and page numbers.  All electronic file names should also include your name.

  7. Some consideration will be given to students who are not native English speakers, but the primary goal of this class is quite specific--producing a publishable manuscript.

 

GRADING POLICY:

 

Final course grades will be determined as follows:

Homework Assignments

100 Points

Reading Assignments

100 Points

Paper Presentations

100 Points

Paper Reviews

100 Points

Final Paper

600 Points

Total Possible Points

1000 Points

 

Students must earn 900+ points to receive a grade of "A," 800+ points to earn a "B," and 700+ points to earn a grade of "C".   You will be able to track your scores on the class .  Grades will be presented on a 100 point scale, so that you can better evaluate your performance.  The points will be weighted to produce a final score.

 

 

THE COURSE OUTLINE

 


 

MODULE ONE: Doing Research, Basic Concepts, and Getting A Research Project Started

 


WEEK 1: COURSE INTRODUCTION (January 12)

 

We will review the course syllabus and discuss the course requirements. 

 

Required Reading:

Indiana University, Plagiarism: What it is and How to Recognize and Avoid It: http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets/plagiarism.pdf

Supplemental readings: 

J. McGrath, et al., (1982.) Judgment Calls in Research (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishers)

 

Zuckerman, H. and Merton, R. K. (1978.) "Patterns of Evaluation in Science." Minerva, 9: 66-100.

 

Bozeman, B. and D. Landsbergen (1989.) "Truth and Credibility in Sincere Policy Analysis: Alternative Approaches  for the Production of Policy Relevant Knowledge." Evaluation Review, 13(4): 355-379.

Homework for the next class (present in class):

Part one. Identify the three professional journals now most important to you (ones you sometimes read, ones that influence you, ones you would like to publish in). Make notes so that in a class presentation you can characterize the journals in terms of (1) their substantive content; (2) typical research approaches; (3) mix of qualitative or quantitative approaches; (4) impact on the field (in terms of citation likelihood and other such uses); (5) practitioner vs. researcher orientation.

 

Part two. Pick one article published in these journals that you think is really good, and be prepared to summarize in two minutes and, most important, say why you think it is really good.

 

WEEK 2: DEVELOPING BETTER POLICY RESEARCH (AND BETTER RESEARCHERS) (January 19)

 

Required Readings:

Gerald J. Miller and Marcia L. Whicker (Eds).  (1998.)  "Levels of Data, Variables, Hypotheses, and Theory." Handbook of Research Methods in Public Administration.  Marcel Dekker. 

 

Robert Rogers and Nanette Rogers. (1999.) "The Sacred Spark of Academic Research." Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 9: 473-492.

 

Till, JE. (2000.) "Peer Review in a Post-Eprints World: A Proposal." Journal of  Medical Internet Research; 2(3):e14   URL: http://www.jmir.org/2000/3/e14/

Presentation Readings:

Laurence E. Lynn Jr. (1999.) "A Place at the Table: Policy Analysis, its Postpositive Critics, and Future of Practice." Journal of Policy Analysis and Management,18(3): 411-425.

 

Carol Chetkovich and David L. Kirp. (2001.) "Cases and Controversies: How Novitiates Are Trained to Be Masters of the Public Policy Universe."  Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 20(2): 283-314.

 

Becker, Howard S.  (1986.)  Writing for Social Scientists.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  Chapter 1: (Freshman English for Graduate Students).

 

"Cargo Cult Science" excerpted from 'Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman!' Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard Feynman, Bantam Books: New York, 1986.  http://www.physics.brocku.ca/etc/cargo_cult_science.html

Supplemental Readings:

Henry E. Brady and David Collier, Editors (2004). Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards.  Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., New York.  Chapter 1 (Refocusing the Discussion of Methodology).

Understanding Risk: Informing Decisions in a Democratic Society (1996). National Research Council. Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education.  http://www.nap.edu/books/030905396X/html/index.html

Homework for the next class (post on the class bulletin board and present):

Please post a short (several paragraph) description of your plans for your research paper on the class bulletin board prior to class 3.  Be prepared to defend your idea in class.

 

WEEK 3: EVALUATING IDEAS AND CHOOSING TOPICS (January 26)

 

Required Readings:

Lieberson, Stanley.  (1992.)  “Einstein, Renoir and Greeley: Some Thoughts About Evidence in Sociology.” American Sociological Review 57: 1-15.

 

Wagner, David G., and Joseph Berger. (1985.) “Do Sociological Theories Grow?” American Journal of Sociology 90: 697-728.

Presentation Readings:

Becker, Howard S. (1998.) Tricks of the Trade: How to Think about Your Research While You’re Doing It. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Chapter 4: (Concepts).


D. Campbell (1960.) "Blind variation and selective retention in creative thought as in other knowledge processes." Psychological Review, 67, 6: 1380-1400.

 

Aaron Wildavsky. (1993.) Craftways: On the Organization of Scholarly Work. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishing (Chapters 3 and 4).

Supplemental Readings:

C. F. Turner, L. Ku, S. M. Rogers, L. D. Lindberg, J. H. Pleck, and F. L. Sonenstein (1998). "Adolescent Sexual Behavior, Drug Use, and Violence: Increased Reporting with Computer Survey Technology." Science, 280: 867-873.

 

Converse, J. and Presser, S., (1986.) Survey Questions: Handcrafting the Standardized Questionnaire, Newbury Park: Sage Publications.

Homework for the next class (for discussion only):

Compare and contrast the use of the survey method in two articles published in the journal of your choice.  Be prepared to present your conclusions to the class.


 

MODULE TWO: Nailing Down a Research Design

 


WEEK 4: SURVEY RESEARCH METHODS (February 2)

Required Readings:

Read the survey research sections of a basic research methods text (e.g. Singleton and Strait, 1993, pages 219-300).

 

Krosnick, J. A.  (1999.)  "Survey methodology." Annual Review of Psychology, 50, 537-567.

Presentation Readings:

E. Singer, J. Van Hoewyk and M. Maher, (2000.)  “Experiments with Incentives in Telephone Surveys,” Public Opinion Quarterly, 64(2): 71.
 

D. Dillman, E. Singer, J. Clark and J. Treat (1996.) “Effects of Benefits Appeals, Mandatory Appeals, and Variations in Statements off Confidentiality on Completion Rates for Census Questionnaires,” Public Opinion Quarterly, 60(3): 376-389.
 

J. Bassili and B. Stacey Scott (1996.) “Response Latency as a Signal to Question Problems in Survey Research,” Public Opinion Quarterly, 60(3): 390-399.
 

Dillman, D. Sinclair, M and Clark, J.R. (1993). “Effect of Questionnaire Length, Respondent-friendly Design, and a Difficult Question on Response Rates for Occupant-addressed Census Mail Surveys,” Public Opinion Quarterly, 57: 289-305.

Supplemental Readings:

Dillman, Don A. (2000). Mail and Internet Surveys: The Tailored Design Method. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., Chapter 4 Survey Implementation.

 

Kane, M.T. (1992.) “An Argument-Based Approach to Validity.” Psychological Bulletin, 112(3): 527-535.

 

S. Losh, Rules for Question Construction:

 http://www.slis.indiana.edu/faculty/arobbin/COURSES/L509/susanlosh/Questionnaires.htm

Homework for the next class (submit electronically and present in class):

You will be provided a paper and a journal’s peer review guidelines.  Following those guidelines, review the paper.  The review will need to be printed and turned in next week.  There is no page size requirement, but most peer review efforts are about 1-2 single-spaced pages.  Be prepared to discuss your review in class.

 

WEEK 5:  PEER REVIEW (February 9)

Required Readings:

Stinchcombe, Arthur L., and Richard Ofshe.  (1969.)  “On Journal Editing as a Probabilistic Process.”  The American Sociologist 4: 116-117. 

 

Davitz Jobl R., and  Leiderman, Lois D.  (1995.) Evaluating Research Proposals: A Guide for the Behavioral Sciences. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Presentation Readings:

Becker, Howard S.  (1986.)  Writing for Social Scientists.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  Chapter 2: (Persona and Authority).

 

Becker, Howard S.  (1986.)  Writing for Social Scientists.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  Chapter 6: (Risk).

Homework for the next class (post on the class bulletin board and present):

Post your formal research design on the class bulletin board prior to the normal meeting date and time for class 6.  This can be in the form of an attachment.  Keep it short.  Four double-spaced pages is the absolute limit, but shorter than this is best.  Look at some published articles and see how much space they devote to describing their methods.

 

WEEK 6: DATA DREDGING--MEET TO DISCUSS ISSUES AS NEEDED (February 16)

 

Your instructor will be available to provide assistance from 1-4.  Other times are available by appointment.

 

Supplemental Readings:

Berk, R. (1983.) "An Introduction to Sample Selection bias in Sociological Data." American Sociological Review, 48: 386-398.

 

Daniel, W.W. (1975.) "Nonresponse in Sociological Surveys: A Review of Some Methods for Handling the Problems." Sociological Methods and Research, 3: 291-307.

 

Crittenden, K.S. and Hill, R.J. (1971.) "Coding reliability and validity of interview data." American Sociological Review, 36(4): 1073-1080.

Homework for the next class (post on the class bulletin board):

Post a review and assessment of a draft research design submitted by one of your colleagues in the Research Seminar using the same type of criteria we used in our peer review discussion.  Your comments will be limited to the method, of course.  Be prepared to discuss your review in our next class.

 

WEEK 7: RESEARCH DESIGN DISCUSSION (February 23)

 

Students will present brief descriptions of their research designs.  Just a quick overview is all that is needed.  Your designs have been posted, as have the discussant comments.  Give us an update and we will use the remaining time for discussion.

 

Homework for the next class (discuss in class):

Carefully review the Sage book catalog and develop a list of all the publications that might be helpful for your research, both now and in the future.  Be prepared to discuss what you found with the class. 


 

MODULE THREE: Data Analysis and Reporting 

 


WEEK 9: ANALYTICAL STRATEGIES (March 16)

Required Readings:

H. Kritzer (1996.) “The Data Puzzle: The Nature of Interpretation in Quantitative Research,” American Journal of Political Science, 40(1): 1-32.

 

Daniel, W.W. (1975.) "Nonresponse in Sociological Surveys: A Review of Some Methods for Handling the Problems." Sociological Methods and Research, 3: 291-307.

 

Lee, A. (1991.) "Integrating Positivist and Interpretive Approaches to Organizational Research." Organization Science, 2(4): 342-365.

Presentation Readings:

Jacoby, W.,  (1990.) “Dimensional Analysis in Political Science,” The Political Methodologist, 3: 12-14.

 

Moorman, J.E., (1979.) "Aggregation Bias." Sociological Methods and Research, 8: 69-94.

 

Zelditch, M.J., (1962.) "Some Methodological Problems of Field Studies." American Journal of Sociology, 67: 566-76.

 

Stine, W. W., (1989.) "Meaningful Inference: The Role of Measurement in Statistics." Psychological Bulletin, 105: 147-155.

Supplemental Readings:

Sieber, S.D. (1973.) "The Integration of Fieldwork and Survey Methods." American Journal of Sociology, 78: 1335-59.

 

Fink, Arlene., and Kosecoff, Jacqueline (1998.) How to Conduct Surveys: A Step-by Step Guide. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.  Chapter 7 (Presenting Survey Results).

 

Zeisel, Hans. (1968.) Say It With Figures by , Harper & Row, 5th edition.

Homework for the next class (discuss in class):

Look at least four articles written on your paper topic and compare and contrast the way that the literature reviews have been done.  Be prepared to discuss some differences.

 

WEEK 10: DEVELOPING A LITERATURE REVIEW (March 23) 

 

Required Readings:

Trinity University Literature Review Guidelines: http://www.cs.tcd.ie/courses/mscitedu/2000/Research/l4_105.htm

University of Toronto : http://www.utoronto.ca/writing/litrev.html

 

University of Wisconsin-Madison

http://www.wisc.edu/writing/Handbook/ReviewofLiterature.html

University of Washington, Psychology Department http://depts.washington.edu/psywc/handouts/pdf/litrev.pdf

 

Bem, D. J. (1987.) "Writing the Empirical Journal Article." In M. P. Zanna & J. M. Darley (Eds.), The Compleat Academic: A Practical Guide for the Beginning Social Scientist (pp. 171-201). New York: Random House.

Supplemental Readings:

Light, R.J. and Pillemer, D.B. (1984). Summing up: The Science of Reviewing Research. Cambridge , MA: Harvard University Press.

 

Cooper, H.M. (1989). Integrating Research: A Guide for Literature Reviews. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Homework for the next real class (post on the class bulletin board):

Post your draft paper on the class bulletin board by midnight on Monday, April 4th.  Carefully review the paper requirements listed in this syllabus.

 

WEEK 11:  PREPARING A DRAFT PAPER (March 30)

Your instructor will be available to provide assistance from 1-4.  Other times are available by appointment.

Homework for the next class (post on the class bulletin board):

Post a review and assessment of a draft paper submitted by one of your colleagues in the Research Seminar using appropriate criteria.  Be prepared to discuss your review in our next class.  The drafts will vary in their content, I suppose, but make sure and revisit the method and comment on the effectiveness of the literature review.

 

WEEK 12: DISCUSSION OF DRAFT PAPERS (April 6)

 

We will review paper issues as best we can in a limited amount of time.  Be prepared to give us an update on your progress.

 

Homework for the next class (discuss in class):

Obtain and read Georgia Tech’s policy on research ethics and treatment of human subjects.  Obtain (available on the web) and read research ethics policy statements from at least two of the following professional organizations: American Political Science Association,  American Psychological Association, American Anthropological Association, American Sociological Association, American Economic Association.

 

WEEK 13: ETHICAL ISSUES IN RESEARCH (April 13)

Required Readings:

Kelman, H.C. (1972.) "The rights of the subject in social research: An analysis in terms of relative power and legitimacy." American Psychologist, 27: 989-1016.

 

Reamer, F.G. (1979.) "Protecting research subjects and unanticipated  consequences: The Effect of guarantees of confidentiality." Public Opinion Quarterly, 43: 497-506.

Critical Task:

Students will be assigned a date and time for presenting their final paper.

Supplemental Readings:

Joseph M. Williams. (1990).  Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  

 

Anthony Weston.  (1992).  A Rulebook for Arguments (2nd ed.). Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.


 

MODULE FOUR:  Living with the Final Product

 

 

WEEK 14: PAPER PRESENTATIONS (April 20)

 

 

WEEK 15: PAPER PRESENTATIONS (April 27)

 

PAPERS ARE DUE AT 5:00 on Friday, May 6th.

 

 

Please note that your online access to this class will end soon after the papers have been graded.  Let me know if you have any ideas on how to improve this course!

 

 

 

 

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