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POSC 409: First Steps


  • Pick a war since 1945 and analyze its causes according to at least two levels of analysis. Your task in the paper is to provide a succinct summary of the main issues and questions raised, explain how the ideas of the authors compare, and offer your ideas on the topic. This can include your own interpretations, suggesting new kinds of relevant evidence, and/or your own conclusions. Your paper will also be judged on the completeness of the discussion, the depth of the analysis, the effectiveness of the arguments, and the organization and coherence of the paper.
  • Or you can analyze the tension over North Korean nuclear crisis. In this paper you must 1) briefly discuss the history of the tension between the DPRK and the US since 1990; 2) explain the current situation; and 3) assess the likelihood of the armed conflict between the two. Your assessment must be based on relevant facts and the theories from two different levels of analysis. Based on this assessment, predict what is likely to happened in the near future.  
  • The paper should be about 5,000 words—excluding cover, reference pages, tables, figures—using Times New Roman font at size 12, that is roughly 20 pages. 
  • Your sources must be coming from
    • Renowned newspapers such as The New York Times or The Washington Post (CNN is not newspaper) for only minimal usage of fact-checking
    • Scholarly articles
    • Published books
  • Draft due 11/25; final due 12/7

Keyword Exercise

Research Question: "How does media affect voting in young people?"

The first step is to identify the most important parts of the question, the keywords, that get to the base of what we what to research.

Keywords:   media    voting    young people

Now we need to brainstorm some of the different ways we can think about these key concepts. Those alternate keywords can be synonyms, broader, or more narrow terms.

For example, media might generate a list like: Voting might generate a list like:

And young people might generate a list like this:

  • television
    • news
      • CNN
    • talk shows
  • internet
  • social media
    • twitter
    • facebook
    • instagram
  • social networking
  • campaigns
  • political campaigns
    • advertisement
  • election
  • vote
  • civic engagement
  • polls
  • students
    • college students
    • university students
    • undergraduates
    • high school students
  • youth
  • young adults
  • millennials 
  • 18-24 years old

Television is one type of media, and a talk show is one type of television program; the terms get more narrow. Civic engagement is a broader category under which voting might rest. And youth is just another way of saying young people. All of these are legitimate ways of coming up with alternate keywords. You never know which one will be best for a particular database or website until you start looking! What works well in one, might not go over very well in another.

Manage & Organize

ProQuest RefWorks is a citation management tool. It helps you keep track of all your sources. There are many different ones out there, but RefWorks is the only one support by SU Libraries.

You can check out this guide for help or ask a librarian!