Continuing projects

Many, if not most, students who take politics 250 end up developing a research project that they then continue to work on in future courses. This is normal, and it’s something we generally encourage so that students can develop some expertise in a particular topic. However, students may not simply turn in the same paper for more than one course. So what should students do when working on one research project in more than one course?

The following guidelines apply both to students who write a research paper in POL 250 and then another related paper in a course in a later semester, and also to students who write research papers on related topics in POL 250 and in another course in the very same semester.

  1. Intermediate assignments must be different for the two courses. For example, in POL 250 I assign 3 summaries of scientific articles on the topic of the term paper. If you have another politics course with an assignment to summarize, say, 3 scientific articles on the topic of the term paper, for example, you may not use the same articles for both classes. In this example, you would have to summarize 6 different articles. In this example, it would be okay to refer to all 6 articles in the final paper (for both courses if you are taking the course courses in the same semester or in the course that comes later if you are taking them in a sequence).
  2. At least half of the paper must be original for each additional course. In practice, there are two ways that students in POL 250 have done this.
    1. Use the same hypothesis in both papers, but with different case studies. For example: a student in POL 250 develops the hypothesis that countries with higher rates of labor unionization are more likely to have generous family leave policies. In POL 250 he writes a paper that tests this hypothesis by comparing the United States, Canada, France, and Germany. Then, in POL 382, he writes a paper with the same hypothesis but tests the hypothesis by comparing South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Italy. Because half of the paper (the empirical cases) is different, this is acceptable. This is a sensible approach for a student who is interested in a thematic issue – in this case, family leave policies.
    2. Test different hypotheses in both papers, but with the same cases.  For example: a student in POL 250 develops the hypothesis that countries with federal systems will have less generous welfare states. In POL 250 she writes a paper testing this by comparing France and Germany. Then, in POL 382, she develops a hypothesis that countries with lower birthrates will have more generous subsidies for higher education, and she writes a paper that tests this hypothesis by comparing France and Germany. Because half the paper (the theory and hypothesis) is different, this is acceptable. This is a sensible approach for a student who is interested in a particular region – in this case, France and Germany.
  3. The student must discuss with the course instructor(s) in advance the relationship between the two papers.