he goal of this assignment is to set you up for success in designing research inquiries moving forward. Part of a solid research idea and proposal is having a workable research question that is narrow enough that it can be addressed in the space provided (for example a 15-20 page research paper versus a 50-page thesis), and written in a way that is open-ended and free from bias.
1. Start your assignment with an introductory paragraph about your research topic and why it is of interest and a research “puzzle.” You want to guide your reader from your research area to your research topic, then on to your general research question, and specific research question.
While there are many ways to frame a research question, at the graduate level, your research questions should be 1) open-ended and start with “How,” “Why,” “What,” or “To what extent;” 2) should incorporate the variables you seek to assess and their relationship; and 3) should indicate how you intend to test the nature of that relationship. You want to make sure that your question has an appropriate amount of complexity so that it requires a significant amount of research and analysis. A simple Google search should not be able to answer your research question.
Unclear: How can the need for power be harmful?
Too simple: What is Hillary Clinton’s position on Obama Care?
Too simple: What is Hillary Clinton’s operational code?
Too broad: To what extent is Hillary Clinton different from Bill Clinton?
Appropriately Complex and Focused: To what extent is Hillary Clinton motivated by a need for power by comparison to Bill Clinton, and how might this impact access and control of information within the White House?
2. Next, provide a purpose statement that conveys your intentions about what you hope to produce. See the references in your Lessons for additional insight. Often within the literature, this discussion is usually called out by a phrase like the following: “This paper examines . . .,” “The aim of this paper is to . . .,” or “The purpose of this essay is to . . .”. Remember that a purpose statement makes a promise to the reader about the development of the argument but does not preview the particular conclusions that the writer has drawn. Your purpose statement should demonstrate what you are hoping to find out, and also explain what you want your readers to understand (motivation or argument of the research). Later on, when you go to write a paper, a trick to help keep your paper focused around your purpose or argument is to paste it into the header or footer while you write.
This formula and example set from the Baruch College Writing Center may be helpful:
I am studying…
…because I want to find out…
….so that readers understand…
(Motivation or Argument)
Differences in Boston-based and Philadelphia-based abolitionist rhetoric… …why Boston-based abolitionists emphasized broad themes of social justice… …how previous scholars may have overlooked the role of free black Bostonians in shaping anti-slavery ideals.
The origins of the Glass-Steagall Act …why lawmakers supported its passage… …that their motives resulted not from careful economic analysis but rather from ideological preconceptions about the role of commercial banks in society.
(From Baruch College Writing Center “Focusing Research Topics Workshop” www.writingcenter.baruch.cuny.edu)
3. Pull out the dependent (DV) and independent variable(s) (IV) that you are interesting it looking at. This needs to be specific and you need to discuss ideas for how you might go about measuring the impact that the IV as on the DV. You need to focus on one or two specific variables (and discuss how they are defined), otherwise, your research will quickly spin out of control as you will not have the capacity to effectively address the relationship between all the variables. The PRS Group offers a good list of variables they use in their research. This list is just an example of variables to show you what a variable might look like and how it might be defined.
Hypothesis: A statement for how a change or condition in one or more independent variables cause(s) a change or condition in a dependent variable.
Not all studies or research papers require the use of a hypothesis. In most cases, hypotheses are used when a study is conducting an experiment or when a study is quantitative in nature. However, this is an important skill to develop in case you do go on to complete quantitative research or conduct a formal experiment.
In this next step, you will develop a hypothesis that reflects your educated guess as to the relationship between your selected variables. You may use an “if” “then” statement or you may formulate it as a narrative statement. Finally, explain why these are the important variables to look at within this research project. Why focus on these variables and not other variables?
By the time you are done, you should have at least 3-4 pages of content (double spaced in times-new roman font), not including the title page, and a “references list or bibliography” page. Your writing should be consistent with the professional/academic writing style. For a refresher on the conventions of academic writing please refer to the latest Turabian writing guide or APA writing manual. Since multiple writing styles are in use within this course, on your title page, please note which style you are using within your assignment. This will help me cater my comments to the style you are using. The style you use needs to be the one that is used within your program of study.
Please contact me if you have any questions.
You can also consult: Turabian (2013) Chapter 2 and Hypothesis Writing
Use the filename (no spaces) yourlastnameWeek3.doc for uploading this file to the Assignment.
As you proofread your assignment I encourage you to work with Belcher, Wendy Laura. 2009. “Editing Your Sentences” In Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Sage. This resource has a nice step by step process for enhancing your writing.
Note: This assignment will be something that you draw upon to help you complete your final assignment, which is a research proposal. For that assignment you may use the same research question you developed here or create another one.
Hello SSGS 500 Scholars. In addition to teaching this course, I also teach other courses and supervise the
capstone paper course, which is the last course a student takes prior to graduating. Over the past years, I
have identified a number of re-occurring issues in both the initial written assignments submitted to other
classes and the final capstone course. Thus, to ensure each of you begin your course of studies in a
positive manner; I have addressed these issues below.
First, in relation to academic writing, most writing is in the “third” person not the “first” person. This
means that instead of “I”, “we” or “our”, the student uses “This study” or “this research” to refer to the
research project. This is important because unlike editorials or political writing, one of the gold standards
of academia is to remain objective as a researcher rather than subjective. The data generated by the
research question will enable the researcher to either accept or reject the hypothesis. In fact, it may be the
data gathered does not support the writer’s personal view but this is okay because by rejecting a
hypothesis, knowledge is advanced. Please note that you are now a scholar researching the merit of an
issue that you have framed into a hypothesis, and thus all students must strive to remain objective and
conduct an analytical study.
Second, as a graduate student seeking to maintain objectivity, the student must avoid language that is
deterministic. By deterministic, I mean language and a research project were a student is going to
“prove” a policy or program has failed or is flawed. This type of approach is subjective and thus
undermines the objectivity or neutrality of the research which again is to either accept or reject a
hypothesis based on reliable and valid data. If someone is attempting to prove or determine an issue, the
researcher runs the risk of manipulating the data, even if the conclusions of the study are contrary to the
assumptions of the researcher. This is dangerous because if an unsupported hypothesis is accepted, (not
supported by the data), this will have negative consequences for society. Thus, the model driving both
the hard sciences and social science is a scientific model based on valid and reliable description, objective
explanation, and data generated prediction.
Third, when citing sources in the paper, the preferred method in this program are in-text citations with
the full bibliographic listing alphabetically listed in the References or Bibliography. I am surprised when
graduate students do not know how to cite sources correctly. Every term, I receive papers were students
incorrectly identify sources in a paper. For example, a number of students use phrases such as “this
article” or “the book titled The War on Terrorism discussed.” This is incorrect language in academic
writing. The phrases “book” or “article” are inanimate objects that did not write themselves but are
written by an author. Thus, when citing a source, you must cite the author or authors making the points
because they have produced the material not the book or article. The correct format to use when you state
the name of an author in a sentence is the following:
“Smith and Jones (2012) argue a hard-line counterterrorism approach will lead to a reduction in
terrorism activity compared to a conciliatory approach.”
When the writer states the author’s name in the text, the date of publication, and if required a page
number, immediately follows the author’s name as indicated above.
If the writer is stating a fact, statistical, or theorem attributed to an author, then the name of the author
immediate follows the end of the sentence with the author name in parentheses. For example,
“Additionally, from 2007 thru 2015, there were nearly 29 thousand deaths in Afghanistan due to terrorist
operations (Smith, 2016).”
If you are citing a direct quote in the sentence, then the citation immediately follows the end of the
sentence such as “(Smith 2014, 4).”
Additionally, do not include the credentials of the author, such as the author’s title, “Professor Smith” or
their work location, “Director of the Center for Terrorism Studies, University of North Carolina.” In
academic writing, only list the author’s name. If the assignment was an annotated bibliography rather
than a research paper, then this information would be included but this is a research/analytical paper.
Fourth, in the bibliography (References) some students have included the electronic resource used to
access the article such as JSTOR, ProQuest, or Ezprozy. It is not customary to include this
information. You only need to list the following for published materials in journals, books, newspapers,
or government documents: author name, date of publication, title, publisher, volume if a journal, and
pages if a journal. If a source is published only on the internet, then you would include a web address.
Please see A Manual for Writers of Papers, Theses, and Dissertations for guidance on how to properly
cite and list web based only material in the bibliography.
Listed below is the proper format for peer-reviewed journal articles.
Cilluffo, Frank J. and Sharon L. Cardash. 2013. “Cyber Domain Conflict in the 21st Century.” The
Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations 14 (1): 41-47.
Fidler, David P. 2014. “Le cyberespace, c’est moi? Authoritarian Leaders, the Internet, and International
Politics.” Seton Hall Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations 15, no. 1: 7-21.
Goel, Sanjay. 2011. “Cyberwarfare: Connecting the Dots in Cyber Intelligence.” Communications of the
ACM 54, no. 8: 132-140.
Fifth, it is very important that all assignments be an example of your “best” work. It must be written at
the graduate level. The grammar must be clear and free of errors. The writing must be concise. The
author must avoid jargon, wordiness, and run-on sentences. As the reviewer of your work in this course
and possibly the capstone paper, my role is to ensure the student produces high-quality graduate level
work and I take this role very seriously. Thus, you will find that I am tough on grammar and paragraph
structure. A paper must have introductory sentences, transition sentences, and concluding
sentences. Please note however my role is not to serve as the editor of a student’s paper. Rather, my role
is to ensure the paper produced by the student is written analytically, empirically, and based on the
theories of a specific field of study. However, if the paper is not well-written, clear, and to the point, it
will be graded accordingly. To ensure the student meets these writing expectations, I suggest the
following. First, leave sufficient time to revise your written assignments in this course. The key to highquality writing is revisions, revisions, revisions. Second, it you are not a good proof reader, you can have
someone read your paper aloud as you listen. If they stumble on the sentence structure, then it is not well
written. Also, if it verbally does not sound clear, then it is not well written. Thus, my role is to ensure
you submit a high-quality, coherent, well organized, well researched, and well-argued paper in this class
and future classes.
Sixth, there are several important formatting issues each student needs to address. First, every
assignment must include a title page with the author’s name listed on the title page. At the end of this
document, I have listed a Title Page template you are to use for all assignments in this class. Do not
number the title page. Second, number each paper at the bottom center of the page and do not include
your name or other language in the page numbering. Page numbering begins with the first page of text.
Third, the writer needs to include subject headings such as “Introduction” “Literature Review,” “Research
Design” etc. in the paper. This will help the writer organize her or his thoughts and indicate to the reader
when there is a transition in the paper. Also, when subject headings are included, then the writer can
include a Table of Contents. In all papers, I want you to include a Table of Content. This will
immediately follow the Title Page and will be numbered with a lower case Roman numeral “i”. Again
the first page of text begin is the number “1”. The font for each assignment is Times New Roman, 12 pt.
Seventh, each assignment must follow the recommended page length. If the assignment states the paper
should be no more or no less than 5 pages, then the paper must conform to this page length. It the
assignment calls for 5 pages, then the student should not turn in 3 pages or 8 pages. This is important
because most organizations, to include governmental and intelligence organizations, value clear and
succinct writing over verbose and wordy writing. These organizations also expect their employees to
meet the writing expectations of the organization. If an assignment exceeds the maximum page length,
the paper will be return to the student for revisions. If a paper does not meet the minimum page
requirement, then points will be deducted from assignments.
Eighth, in academic writing and research, the focus of a paper is on explanatory research meaning the
analysis that is based on peer reviewed writing that generates a clear and concise research question and
hypothesis containing the dependent and independent variables that is either accepted or rejected based on
empirical data. The research focus is not speculative or predictive which seeks to prove a point and is
leads to unfounded conclusions because the research relies on speculation rather than empirical data.
When the focus of the research is speculative, the hypothesis cannot be accepted or rejected.
Additionally, students should avoid topics that are very recent because there will not be a body of peer
reviewed research and thus there is no basis for explanation. Thus, the focus is explanatory research.
In closing, I know that some of you have already taken several graduate classes and although you may
have used the language described above in other classes, for this class, you mus
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