Gov 50 introduces students to techniques used for research in the study of politics. Part of this task is conceptual: helping students to think sensibly and systematically about research design. To this end, students will learn how data and theory fit together, and how to measure the quantities we care about. But part of the task is practical too: students will learn a “toolbox” of methods—including statistical software—that enable them to execute their plans.
If you are thinking about writing a thesis, you may find it particularly advantageous to take Gov 50 during the sophomore year. Then there will be time to go on to more advanced coursework if you are so inclined. Even if you do not elect to write a thesis using quantitative methods, or don’t ever want to conduct statistical analysis yourself, the course will help you to learn the language used in many assigned readings in Government classes. The topics covered in Gov 50—descriptive statistics, sampling, estimation, hypothesis tests, and applied linear and logistic regression—will help you to understand what scholars are saying and how well those scholars are verifying their claims.
Current (Fall 2012) Gov 50 syllabus