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Top Tips for Writing a Political Science Research Paper

As a Political Science student, you will be expected to write numerous research papers during your undergraduate studies. Research at this stage is mainly to provide facts and reliable academic sources to support a research question or point of view. 

The objective of a political science research paper is to demonstrate sharp analysis and an ability to effectively use resources. This article provides some practical guidance for political science students who embark on research projects and advice related to the selection of the research topic and its presentation, style, and format.

How do you begin the research paper process?

  1. Find a topic that interests you 

Decide on a research topic that you’re interested in exploring more about. In domestic politics, these typically include contested elections, social movements, leaders, and some institutional analysis of governmental structures and public administration.

For international politics, this might involve inter-state conflicts, human rights, global poverty, globalization, environmental issues, and security.

  1. Transform a topic into a specific research question

After you choose a topic, focus on creating a clear and succinct research question. Think about how to place this one topic into a larger landscape that can widen the scope of its appeal and analysis. For example, to what extent does a leader or conflict define how policy is currently made in a country?

  1. Establish a research method to implement 

Professors want to see  how you’ve arrived at answering your research question. This often involves demonstrating that you’ve used a variety of sources (books, articles, newspapers) and analytical techniques (quantitative or qualitative sources) to evaluate issues and themes.  As you put forth your argument, or compare and contrast different points of view and theories, make sure to refer to the sources that you found most compelling,  

Writing effectively

After you’ve you’ve chosen a topic and identified a few sources to use in your paper, you should create an outline to organize your ideas and arguments. 

  1. Introduction

Present the statement of the problem or hypothesis question that gave rise to the research. In this section, you should share an explanation of why the problem is relevant to address.

Moreover, it’s the section where you provide your reader with the main purpose of your writing. Indicate the importance of your research and describe briefly the way you plan to lay out your argument.

  1. Body: Literature review and supporting evidence

This is the informative section of the research and it weaves together the main sources you are using to support your argument. It is important to clearly show that you know the concepts and ideas, and also demonstrate why a counter-hypothesis may not be as relevant.

  1. Conclusion

Restate your main argument and the most compelling research and evidence that supports your answers. 

Extend your argument for further research. What might the significance or implications of the argument be in another instance. 

Additional tips for writing a political science research paper

  • Identify which kind of information is most useful for the research. The amount of information taken from the library and internet databases depends on the type of project you select or are assigned. While some questions require more evidence and quantitative data to address, others are answered with practical theories and qualitative sources.
  • Include a literature review, a list of books and articles, which can be verified. 

Find trustworthy information and a referencing system that allows you to acknowledge your sources. (Pro-tip: Wikipedia is not one!) 


Writing a research paper for the first time? Stuck on what to write about? 

Our Ilkmade Experts are here to help you from start to finish. From identifying your interests and deciding on a topic to honing your central argument, we’ve got you covered. Book a free 15-minute consultation here to see how we can support you through the research process.

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