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Undergraduate Research Methods Teaching in Political Science: A Comparative Perspective
Unformatted Document Text:  programmes at more elite, PhD granting institutions require methods for a political science degree. The relatively high overall figure is brought up by a relatively large proportion (73%) of universities offering only undergraduate degrees which also require methods. This split had not been identified previously and confounded conventional wisdom. Nonetheless, the finding that almost two-thirds of undergraduate political science degrees required research methods was a positive indication of its status in the discipline. However, this high proportion of programmes requiring methods has not been found in other studies. Doyle and Mezzell (2007) examined the curricula in all 100 PhD programmes in the U.S. and found that only 31% required methods training. This figure was lower than the 46% reported by Thies and Hogan, but their study had only gathered returns from 62 institutions. Another large scale study (Dell and Nakazato 2007) examined 224 university programmes in political science, representing national universities and liberal arts universities identified in U.S. News and World Report’s college rankings. This study found that 36% of all programmes required research methods. The breakdown between national universities and liberal arts universities revealed a much smaller split than that found by Thies and Hogan. National universities required methods in 33.9% of programs versus 37.3% in liberal arts programs. This smaller division between national and liberal arts does not replicate the same categories of universities used by Thies and Hogan, so the results are not directly comparable. Regardless of the finer distinctions between the categories, Dell and Nakazato’s figures portray a much smaller commitment to methods teaching across the entire discipline. This study also reported a sizeable proportion (12%) of universities requiring an undergraduate dissertation, project, or thesis. This high proportion may 3

Authors: Parker, Jonathan.
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programmes at more elite, PhD granting institutions require methods for a political
science degree. The relatively high overall figure is brought up by a relatively large
proportion (73%) of universities offering only undergraduate degrees which also
require methods. This split had not been identified previously and confounded
conventional wisdom. Nonetheless, the finding that almost two-thirds of
undergraduate political science degrees required research methods was a positive
indication of its status in the discipline. However, this high proportion of
programmes requiring methods has not been found in other studies.
Doyle and Mezzell (2007) examined the curricula in all 100 PhD programmes
in the U.S. and found that only 31% required methods training. This figure was lower
than the 46% reported by Thies and Hogan, but their study had only gathered returns
from 62 institutions. Another large scale study (Dell and Nakazato 2007) examined
224 university programmes in political science, representing national universities and
liberal arts universities identified in U.S. News and World Report’s college rankings.
This study found that 36% of all programmes required research methods. The
breakdown between national universities and liberal arts universities revealed a much
smaller split than that found by Thies and Hogan. National universities required
methods in 33.9% of programs versus 37.3% in liberal arts programs. This smaller
division between national and liberal arts does not replicate the same categories of
universities used by Thies and Hogan, so the results are not directly comparable.
Regardless of the finer distinctions between the categories, Dell and Nakazato’s
figures portray a much smaller commitment to methods teaching across the entire
discipline. This study also reported a sizeable proportion (12%) of universities
requiring an undergraduate dissertation, project, or thesis. This high proportion may
3


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