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Political Science Paper Writing Guidelines

More than most other areas of study, political science places a strong emphasis on the written form of communication. In fact, the most highly regarded thinkers in the world of political science have been fantastic writers.

Is this a coincidence? Not at all.

The reason that famous political scientists such as Karl Marx, author of the Communist Manifesto and James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, authors of The Federalist Papers, have had such an enormous impact on the political science world lies in the strength of their writings. These men, and others before and after, have written some of the most influential pieces of writing in the history of political science. Because of the strength of their writing ability, they were able to reach countless minds through the power of the written word.

Why is the written word so important to the furthering of political science?

Quite simply, because the written word can reach a great many more minds than the spoken word can. This was especially true during the times in which great works such as The Federalist Papers were written. Placing the thoughts behind these works onto the printed page made them tangible, made them real, and allowed them to be passed on and studied by several subsequent generations of political scientists. Even today, in the technological age, where television and Internet communications have become so prevalent, the written word remains the basis for the proliferation of political science.

Four Common Forms of Political Science Papers

While the specific topics of political science papers to choose from are literally endless, most political science writing assignments will fall into one of these three major categories, or will be a combination of them.

  • Reaction Papers: In a reaction paper, you will be required to present material on a certain subject, analyze that material, and then describe your own personal reaction to this analysis.
  • Position Papers: Somewhat similar to the reaction papers, you will be required to present material on the chosen subject, analyze, and then make an argumentabout the subject. In other words, you must take a stance one way or the other on an argumentative topic.
  • Research Papers: The most straightforward of the three types of political science papers, the research paper requires you to gather information on a topic and present your findings in a clear and concise manner.

Tips on Writing Excellent Political Science Papers

Be Sure to Title Your Work Appropriately: Many writers begin with a specific title and construct their paper around that title, while others begin with a broader concept and after the paper has been completed will choose a title that best fits the content. Whichever way you choose to come up with your title, it is absolutely vital that the title reflects the content, ideas, and overall focus of your paper.

  • Develop a Strong Introduction: The introduction sets the tone for the entire paper, so it is important to develop an introduction that reflects what you are trying to accomplish with the writing.
  • Generalizations Must Be Supported: It is important to understand that study of political science is called a “science” for a reason. The readers of your work will not accept generalizations that are made without the backing of data or the reference of another author’s work.
  • Restate Main Ideas in the Conclusion: Like with any type of writing, a strong conclusion is vital to the overall effectiveness of the paper. Without a strong conclusion, the reader is left wondering what happened. Restate the main ideas at the end of the paper to ensure they have their intended impact.

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