Political Science Research in Practice (Paperback) book cover

Political Science Research in Practice

Edited by Akan Malici, Elizabeth S. Smith

© 2013 – Routledge

216 pages

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Paperback: 9780415887731
pub: 2012-07-18
Hardback: 9780415887724
pub: 2012-07-27
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203830963
pub: 2012-09-10
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Nothing rings truer to those teaching political science research methods: students hate taking this course. Tackle the challenge and turn the standard research methods teaching model on its head with Political Science Research in Practice. Akan Malici and Elizabeth Smith engage students first with pressing political questions and then demonstrate how a researcher has gone about answering them, walking through real political science research that contributors have conducted. Through the exemplary use of survey research, experiments, field research, case studies, content analysis, interviews, document analysis, statistical research, and formal modeling, each chapter introduces students to a method of empirical inquiry through a specific topic that will spark their interest and curiosity. Each chapter shows the process of developing a research question, how and why a particular method was used, and the rewards and challenges discovered along the way. Students can better appreciate why we need a science of politics—why methods matter—with these first-hand, issue-based discussions.

The following features make this an ideal teaching tool:

  • An introductory chapter that succinctly introduces key terms in research methodology
  • Key terms bolded throughout and defined in a glossary
  • Broad coverage of the most important methods used in political science research and the major subfields of the discipline
  • A companion website designed to foster online active learning
  • An instructor’s manual and testbank to help incorporate this innovative text into your syllabus and assessment.


"Malici and Smith provide an extremely useful tool for introducing students to the empirical project in political science. The breadth of the methods covered is impressive: from in-depth interviews to comparative case studies, experimental surveys to content analysis, and from field studies to formal modeling. The authors not only report, but also reflect on, their research, giving the reader a feel for the process. What results is a set of insights that will enrich any introductory course on research design. This is a well-conceived and valuable contribution."

—Francis Neely, San Francisco State University

"This book fills an important gap between textbooks on research methodology and published works by professional researchers. What is missing between these two is the sometimes messy business of how research gets done. In this collection of works, using a full spectrum of methodological approaches, Malici and Smith have given students an important and rare opportunity to see what a published research project looks like from start to finish."

Guy D. Whitten, Texas A & M University

"This book will provide a breath of fresh air to the current political science research methods textbook market. It departs from the standard ‘building block’ approach among existing political science research methods texts by providing a detailed anatomy of the logic and process of some of the most widely used methodological tools. It really teaches students how research is done."

—Edward Yang, James Madison University

"Political Science Research in Practice provides examples of various methods used by experienced and established scholars, but more importantly it breaks down the research process in each project step-by-step to help students understand how to apply the methods to real world problems. Malici and Smith provide a wide breadth of information on the most important research designs in the field and the substantive areas covered in the text address a wide range of topics that political science students will find useful and fascinating."

—Kenneth Fernandez, University of Nevada-Las Vegas

"Political Science Research in Practice definitely pushes the research methods textbook genre forward. Research methods can be quite intimidating, but this text goes a long way toward reducing student anxiety. Rather than an overly technical survey of the topic, it gives research methodology meaning and purpose. The clever weaving of concept instruction, with personal examples allows the authors to build a stronger relationship with the reader. Each chapter takes students on a step by step journey through the development of interesting and compelling examples of the authors’ research across the various subfields in political science. It is a valuable tutorial that speaks to student topical interests while engaging them to raise their curiosity about the technical side of the discipline."

—Arnold Lewis, William Patterson University

Table of Contents

1. Why Do We Need a Science of Politics? (Elizabeth S. Smith and Akan Malici) 2. How Do We Get a Science of Politics? (Akan Malici and Elizabeth S. Smith) 3. Case Study and Comparative Method: Why Do States Join Institutions? (Kai He) 4. Field Research: Zhuang Ethnic Identity and the Chinese State (Katherine Palmer Kaup) 5. Interviews: What Are the Pathways to Human Rights Activism? (Kristina Thalhammer) 6. Statistical Research: To Naturalize or not to Naturalize? (Adrian D. Pantoja and Sarah Allen Gershon) 7. Survey Research: Religion and Electoral Behavior in the United States, 1936–2008 (Lyman A. Kellstedt and James L. Guth) 8. Secondary Data Analysis: A Program Evaluation of School Vouchers in Milwaukee (David J. Fleming and Joshua M. Cowen) 9. Content Analysis: Local Media and Congress (C. Danielle Vinson) 10. Experimental Research: If Bill Clinton Were a Woman? (Elizabeth S. Smith) 11. Formal Modeling: Cultural Icons of U.S. Foreign Policy (Stephen G. Walker) 12. Normative and Ethical Considerations of Political Science Research (Elizabeth S. Smith and Akan Malici).

About the Editors

Akan Malici is Associate Professor of Political Science at Furman University where he teaches International Relations and Research Methodology. His scholarly interests are in the areas of foreign policy decision making and peace and conflict studies. His books include When Leaders Learn and When They Don't, The Search for a Common European Foreign and Security Policy, U.S. Presidents and Foreign Policy Mistakes, and Rethinking Foreign Policy Analysis.

Elizabeth S. Smith is Professor of Political Science at Furman University where she teaches Research Methodology, American Politics, Political Behavior, and Women and Politics. Her scholarly interests are in the areas of political socialization, political psychology, and gender and politics. She has authored articles on the teaching of political science, service learning, social capital formation among young people, and gender and politics. She is the 2007 recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award from South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities.

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