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Introduction to Political Science Research

This course provides an introduction to political science research methods. We examine concepts, computation, and applications alongside one another.

Course Website

I post all the materials for this course to I recommend bookmarking this page.

Office Hours

Please sign up here. Drop-ins are welcome, but create a queuing problem that we can avoid.

Monday and Wednesday, 10am-12pm, Bellamy 540.

Office hours are first-come, first-serve, but I do allow you to sign up in advance to reduce wasted time. You can sign up for one (or more) 15 minute slots here. Also, feel free to come in groups of 2 or 3 if you all have similar questions.

Important Dates

Date Day Assignment Notes
February 6 Wednesday Exam 1 Complete in usual class space and time.
February 22 Friday Computing Assignment 1 Due by 5pm.
March 13 Wednesday Exam 2 Complete in usual class space and time.
April 5 Friday Computing Assignment 2 Due by 5pm.
May 2 Thursday Final Exam Complete from 8-10pm in usual class space.


In taking this course seriously, you will:

Textbooks and Software

You need to obtain the following items for this class:


Item Weight
Exam 1 20%
Exam 2 20%
Final Exam 30%
Computing Assignment 1 5%
Computing Assignment 2 5%
Misc. Exercises (1% each) 10%
Attendance 10%

Above is a summary of the graded assignments in the course, their due dates, and their weights.

Your points in the course will translate into a letter grade using the table below:

Letter Grade Points
A at least 93
A- at least 90
B+ at least 87
B at least 83
B- at least 80
C+ at least 77
C at least 73
C- at least 70
D+ at least 67
D at least 63
D- at least 60
F if less than 60


Federal guidelines define a single semester credit hour as “one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks.” I have made an effort to design this class following this definition. All students are different, but as a rough starting point: you should plan to spend about 6 hours per week outside of class on course material.

To help you with planning, here are my rough estimates for how much time to set aside for various assignments:

Missed Classes and Late Assignments

University Attendance Policy

Excused absences include documented illness, deaths in the family and other documented crises, call to active military duty or jury duty, religious holy days, and official University activities. These absences will be accommodated in a way that does not arbitrarily penalize students who have a valid excuse. Consideration will also be given to students whose dependent children experience serious illness.

My Implementation

I realize there are more important things in life than my class. I will gladly make reasonable accommodations for important events (sibling’s wedding, illness) as long as you make arrangements beforehand if possible.

If you are going to miss a class, notify me before the class via e-mail. Your e-mail should explain and document why you are going to miss the class. In the case of an unexpected absence, notify me within the next two working days. Your e-mail should explain and document why you missed the class and why you could not notify me beforehand. I might follow up with a request for more documentation.

If you miss an in-class, graded assignment (e.g., exam), then I usually expect you to make up the assignment during my next office hours. To avoid advantaging some students over others, I might use an alternative make-up assignment.

If you are absent on a day that an out-of-class assignment is due (e.g., writing assignment), then I expect you to submit the assignment early unless you have made prior arrangements with me. I do not accept assignments submitted via email except in unusual circumstances.

Any computing assignment turned in late is penalized 20 percentage points per class. For example, if the computing assignment is due on Wednesday, I will simply subtract 20 points from your score if you turn it in by the beginning of the next class (usually Monday), 40 points if you turn it in by the beginning of the class after that (usually Monday) and so on.

Any misc. exercise submitted late is given a zero, unless the student has a university-sanctioned excuse.

Academic Honor Policy

The Florida State University Academic Honor Policy outlines the University’s expectations for the integrity of students’ academic work, the procedures for resolving alleged violations of those expectations, and the rights and responsibilities of students and faculty members throughout the process. Students are responsible for reading the Academic Honor Policy and for living up to their pledge to “…be honest and truthful and…[to] strive for personal and institutional integrity at Florida State University.” (Florida State University Academic Honor Policy, found at

American’s with Disabilities Act

Students with disabilities needing academic accommodation should:

  1. Register with and provide documentation to the Student Disability Resource Center; and
  2. Bring a letter to the instructor indicating the need for accommodation and what type.

Please note that instructors are not allowed to provide classroom accommodation to a student until appropriate verification from the Student Disability Resource Center has been provided.

This syllabus and other class materials are available in alternative format upon request.

For more information about services available to FSU students with disabilities, contact the:

Student Disability Resource Center
874 Traditions Way
108 Student Services Building
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4167
(850) 644-9566 (voice)
(850) 644-8504 (TDD)

Course Development

I develop the course materials and website on GitHub. If you see find a problem (even if you don’t see a solution), please open an issue. I keep this repo private to protect students’ privacy, but I’m (usually) happy to grant access to colleagues interested in borrowing and collaborating. If you want to contribute via pull request, the wiki describes how I work.

Syllabus Change Policy

Except for changes that substantially affect implementation of the evaluation (grading) statement, this syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to change with advance notice.


Jan. 9: Clarified late arrivals in attendance policy.

I also record late arrivals. Three lates arrivals equals one absense.

Jan. 9: Added important dates and office hours.

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Carlisle Rainey