Week 1 Essay

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POL 201
Quantitative Research Methods in Political Science
© Colin Whelan 2013

THE BASICS
• POL
•I

201: Research methods in political science

am Colin Whelan

• cew6@sfu.ca
• Tentative

office hours: Tuesdays 12:30-2:15 (after class) or by appointment • Labs

start week 2

FORMAT OF THE COURSE
• Labs
• Homeworks
• Quizzes
• Exams

R
•R

is the statistical software we will use in this course

• Instructions

syllabus

to download and install it are included in the

• It

is a difficult software to learn but I use it for two main reasons: • It

is free

• It

forces you to understand what you are doing

KELLSTEDT AND WHITTEN
• The

main textbook for the course

• Readings
• Make
• There

are not too long, generally easy to read

sure to read thoroughly though!

are readings for week 1 and 2 (sorry!)

• For

week 1: Focus on 1.3; and 2.2-2.4

• The

rest is important; but is mainly good background info

• First

quiz next week!

SOME VOCAB


Research Question: an empirical question about why or how some phenomenon varies





Research questions should be general
Research questions should be about all relevant cases

Notice that we are studying variation. Variation can be over time or across different cases.


Each case is a unit of analysis



We measure the concepts as variables

VARIABLES


Variables require some variation in the concept of interest


If our unit of analysis is people, than species is not a variable; if it were animals, species would be a variable



Variables map a concept to a measurement, we call this operationalization •

For any research question we differentiate between:


The Dependent Variable; and



Other Independent Variables

VARIABLES EXAMPLES
We use the term variable to refer to both the concept in theory, and the measurement of the concept in our dataset.
Here are some examples:
Concept

Measure

Economic status

GDP per capita

Ideology

left-right scale

Rights and freedoms

POLITY IV

Policy preference

A Likert scale

TWO EXAMPLES

DO VOTERS GET MORE
CONSERVATIVE AS THEY AGE?

Source: 2008 Canadian Election Study

DO…