Click here to download a PDF copy of this syllabus. For obvious reasons, the structure of this class changed significantly in March 2020. Below is the syllabus as originally written.

Research Strategies in Public Policy

Brooklyn College, Spring 2020

Lecture: Tues., 6–8:30pm, JH 3613 Instructor: Asher Wycoff,
Lab: Thurs., 6:05–8:05pm, WEB 130 Office Hours: Tuesday, 5–6pm, JH 3416

Course Overview: How do you tell if a policy has achieved the desired effect? What explains public support for some policies and not others? What factors lead to different policy outcomes between countries? Reviewing research on these and related questions, this course will provide a foundation in methodological approaches to political science. Students will examine and apply conventional quantitative and qualitative tools, from logistic regression to coding interview data, through a combination of reading discussions and lab exercises. This course also covers brass-tacks skills like defining concepts, formulating research questions, and formatting bibliographies. The course culminates in a literature review assignment, which gives students the opportunity to apply these research skills and familiarize themselves with a body of literature in which they are interested.

Texts: You do not need to purchase books for this course. All readings and worksheets are available digitally, either on Blackboard or through the CUNY library system. If you have trouble accessing or obtaining the reading materials, please let me know as soon as possible.

Requirements and Grading: This course consists of a lecture section each Tuesday and a laboratory section each Thursday. The laboratory sessions will consist of team exercises in the first half of the semester and guided independent work in the second half. Lecture sessions will involve some direct lecture, but will also include seminar-style discussions on assigned texts. It is thus important that you come to Tuesday classes having read and prepared to discuss the assigned texts. Formal requirements are as follows:

Course Requirement Points Possible
Participation 10 points possible
Lab Exercises (eight) 40 points possible (5 points each)
Reading Presentation 10 points possible
Paper Proposal 5 points possible
Literature Review Rough Draft 15 points possible
Literature Review Final Draft 20 points possible
Total 100 points possible

Since the course as a whole is graded out of 100 points, your raw score at the end of the semester is also your percentage score in the course. I assign letter grades by the usual scale: 93–100 is an A, 90–92 is an A-minus, 87–89 is a B-plus, 83–86 is a B, 80–82 is a B-minus, and so on. Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns about grading over the course of the semester.

General Class Guidelines: While I do not grade on attendance specifically, you are nonetheless expected to attend class regularly having completed and prepared to discuss the required reading. As not just quantity but also quality of participation is important, I strongly recommend that you stay on topic during class discussions.
I do not permit cellphone use during class, and I encourage you to avoid using other electronics as well, if possible. If you use a laptop or tablet in class, please only use it for purposes related to the course (taking notes, consulting readings, e.g.). You are encouraged to print out PDF readings for in-class use.

Academic Integrity: A key part of this course is formatting in-text citations and bibliographies in accordance with the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (the standard in many Political Science journals). Good citation practice is always important, of course, but especially in a course like this, which counts learning to cite properly as one of its core objectives
Consistent, complete, and accurate citations are essential for avoiding plagiarism. Plagiarism is any act of presenting someone else’s words and/or ideas as your own. Each student is responsible for knowing what constitutes plagiarism and avoiding it. If you are unsure, the full CUNY Academic Integrity Policy and the Brooklyn College procedure for its implementation is available online here. If a faculty member confirms a violation of academic integrity, they are required to report it. Familiarize yourself with CUNY’s Academic Integrity Policy and avoid violating it.

Accessibility: In order to receive disability-related academic accommodations students must first be registered with the Center for Student Disability Services (CSDS). Students with a documented disability, or who suspect they may have one, are encouraged to set up an appointment with the Director of Student Disability Services by calling (718) 951-5538. If you have already registered with the CSDS, please provide me with the appropriate documentation and discuss your specific needs with me, and I will provide any necessary accommodations.

Course Schedule

Unit 1: Quantitative Methods

Unit 2: Qualitative Methods

March 10 was the final day of face-to-face classes for Spring 2020.

Spring recess begins Weds., 4/8.

Unit 3: Theoretical Perspectives