Political Science 110H Research Paper
For this course, you will be asked to write a 7-9 page research paper (typed, double-spaced, with a
bibliography of cited sources) on one of the following areas of American politics and government. For
options A and B, it is easier to find a court case or piece of legislation which is more recent. However,
you are free to choose any federal/state court case or piece of legislation:Professional Custom Writing Services from the Experts!
- A) a Supreme Court case of your choosing, in which you provide:
1) a brief summary of the particular case in question, as well as the Constitutional question involved
2) a brief background of the Court’s previous rulings in this issue area
3) how you think the case should be/should have been decided, based on Constitutional precedent and/or
interpretation (not simply your gut feeling!)
4) if applicable, how this court case will affect American society at large (this can be from both what
you’ve researched and your own personal opinion)
- B) a recent or pending bill or legislative action of your choosing (national or California state level), in
1) provide a brief background and history of the legislation in question, explaining its purposes, as well as
the political issues it addresses
2) identify the major players or groups involved (supporters and opponents, including policymakers,
interest groups, etc.), as well as the basic parts of their public arguments and any private benefits which
they may get if the legislation is passed or rejected
3) identify and explain the reasons for the eventual outcome (will it or did it pass…and why?)
4) if it will or has already passed, what are the possible consequences for American society at large (this
can be from both what you’ve researched and your own personal opinion)
NOTE: The bill does not have to be recent or pending but newer bills are easier to find information
- C) a particular interest group, PAC, political party, or political organization active in current politics, in
which you discuss:
1) the organization, its goals, its primary issue area(s), its resources, and its leadership
2) its membership and/or target audience or constituency
3) the history of its involvement in the political arena, your assessment of its influence in the political
arena, as well as its potential for involvement and influence in the future
* 7 to 9 page length (you are allowed to go a page or two over 9 pages but you will be penalized if your
paper is less than 7 pages). The page count only includes pages of text. Any cover pages or works
cited/bibliography pages do not count as pages of text.
* The paper should be written with a size 12 Times New Roman Font. The margins should be one inch
all around. Please insert page numbers somewhere on the pages. Please also STAPLE your paper in the
upper left hand side.
A cover page is not required. However, you are free to include one if you wish. Either on the cover page
or top right of the first page of text, you should have the following information:
Political Science 110H
Question (A, B, or C)2
You should have a title either in the middle of a cover page or in the middle above the beginning of the
paper’s text. Try to catch the reader’s interest with your title. Don’t just call your paper “Political
Science 110H Paper.”
You must cite AT LEAST 4 different sources in your paper. AT LEAST 2 of these sources should be from
“academic” type sources. These sources include a number of online resources, books, and academic
What is an Academic Source?
An academic source represents a scholarly writing that is reviewed by peers (academics have their work
reviewed by other academics). Most of these will be found in a reference directory online.
Magazines and newspaper articles are NOT academic sources. Academic journals and research studies
ARE academic sources. The instructor will also accept official websites (for organizations such as
political parties or interest groups), and government run and university run websites (ending in .gov or
.edu) as academic sources.
Check with the instructor if you are unsure about the acceptability of your sources. Unacceptable sources
include encyclopedias (both written and online, such as Wikipedia) and websites not approved by the
instructor (i.e. Ron’s Politics Site). If you have any questions about whether a website is a legitimate
source, simply e-mail it to the instructor. Official and academic websites are the most reliable and don’t
need to be confirmed by the instructor. Try to use sources outside of popular magazines (i.e. Time,
Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report) and newspapers. These sources are often good for background
information but don’t provide as much substance as books, academic journals, or online research
To begin your search for information, start at the Rio Hondo College Library website:
NOTE: You need your Rio Hondo ID number and pin number to access the search engines
There are several academic search engines listed along with library resources. You can also access library
resources by clicking on the Library button in the Access Rio Portal.
Helpful Websites to Begin Your Research With Beyond Rio Hondo Library Website
– list of research topics A-Z
http://www.library.vanderbilt.edu/govt/pubpol.php – Public Policy Issues and Groups
http://thomas.loc.gov/ – details of Congressional legislation
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/ – details on California legislation
http://www.supremecourtus.gov/ – information about Supreme Court decisions
http://www.firstgov.gov/ – Variety of government resources
http://www.ntis.gov/Index.aspx – Searchable government documents by topic
http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/psusp.html – American Political Science links from University of
Michigan. Includes information about political parties, interest groups, and other political organizations.
http://www.scotusblog.com – Blog covering the latest Supreme Court decisions
http://www.usa.gov/ – Variety of government resources3
Because your paper contains a good deal of information which comes from outside sources, you must tell
the reader where you found this information through a system of citations. All the information you need
about citations are found on the front of the Rio Hondo Library website under “Citing Sources.”
As this is an honors course, you will be graded on the correct formatting and usage of your citations. You
MUST cite information that you use in your paper. The general rule of thumb is that any information that
you use in your paper which comes from outside sources (namely information that is not common
knowledge to you) must be cited. The library website provides information on how citations work and I
am happy to assist you with this process as well. I simply ask that you cite material thoroughly and
consistently throughout the paper (i.e. use one style of citation throughout the paper – MLA or APA).
Go to http://library.riohondo.edu/Research_Help/Citing_Sources/index.htm for guidance on
As I have stated before, I am an expert at detecting plagiarism and have resources to detect anything taken
from or purchased from the Internet. The Rio Hondo Library website provides a thorough explanation,
but I want to reiterate that you must fully cite any material that is not your own. It is far better to cite too
much than to not cite enough. Your paper will be penalized if you do not cite information. Part of your
grade will also depend on the quality and clarity of your writing.
I will read rough drafts of your papers, but you must provide plenty of time before the due date for me to
do so (a week at minimum). I will be happy to look at paper outlines as well. A paper outline should
include the following:
1) thesis statement (i.e. what is your argument)
2) a one line description of each section of your paper
NOTE: After I potentially read a rough draft and supply comments, this does not mean that if you make
the recommended changes you have guaranteed yourself an “A” on the paper. Your grade is dependent on
how it stacks up against the papers of other students in the class.
Due Date and Late Papers
The paper is due in class on Tuesday, December 2nd. You will be penalized 1/3 of a grade for every
day that the paper is late. All late papers must be turned into me by the beginning on December 2nd.
Any late papers should be placed in my mail box in the Social Sciences Division office (in A221 and
look for my name on the mailbox – Colin Young) or in the mail slot on my office door at A221-A.
You will be penalized 1/3 of a grade for every day that the paper is late. If you want to minimize the late
penalty for your paper, you can e-mail me the paper ONLY AFTER CLASS ON DECEMBER 2ND.
However, ALL STUDENTS WHO E-MAIL ME THEIR PAPER MUST ALSO TURN IN A HARD
COPY TO ME OR MY MAIL SLOT. I WILL NOT GRADE ANY PAPERS WHICH ARE NOT
PRINTED AND PUT IN MY MAIL SLOT. My e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have to turn in your paper late via e-mail, please send it in a Word Format and make sure that I
know who the e-mail is from. If you don’t have Microsoft Word, cut and paste the paper into the
message. However, remember that I still need a printed copy of your paper. Please talk to me in class,
office hours or by e-mail or phone if you have any questions or problems with the paper.4
HOW TO STRUCTURE YOUR PAPER
– Explain to the reader what you will be talking about in the paper. Make clear what your topic is.
– Should be about a paragraph long
- Thesis statement
– Should go at the end of the introduction (one or two sentences long)
– It explains what you will be arguing in your paper (it is not an opinion statement but simply what you
will be discussing in the paper). Here are some examples:
- The Green Party has been a major force in both changing citizens’ perceptions of environmental issues
and forcing the two major parties to focus on the environment.
- Proposition 215 not only legalized medical marijuana in California but also created conflict between
the federal and California state government, as medical marijuana is legal in California and illegal under
- Roe v. Wade has produced major controversy in American politics, as there is conflict between pro-life
and pro-choice forces and debate over whether the Supreme Court went too far in making its decision.
– In as many paragraphs as you need, answer the questions that have been provided for each topic
– At the end of the body, you can provide your own personal opinion
– Summarize your paper for the reader again
** Let your evidence make your argument. Evidence is far more persuasive than opinion.
HOW TO GET STARTED ON THE PAPER
- Find a topic.
– Go to http://library.riohondo.edu/Research_Help/Research_Topics/index.htm OR
Go to Rio Hondo Library website and:
- Click on Online Databases
- On the A-Z list of databases, click on SIRS
- On the SIRS website, there will be a huge list of Leading Political Issues of the day. Scroll through
and pick issues that interest you. Each issue will be explained on the Pro and Con side and a number of
articles will appear about the topic.
- You will need to read through the article options and either click on them or narrow your search. It
will take some research. Once you have a general topic, you can narrow it down and figure out if you
want to do your paper on:
- A) a proposed law dealing with your topic OR
- B) a court case dealing with your topic OR
- C) an interest group or political party dealing with your topic
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