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Undergraduate Research Methods Teaching in Political Science: A Comparative Perspective
Unformatted Document Text:  be attributed to half the survey consisting of liberal arts colleges, which accounted for most mandatory thesis requirements. While there is now some data on the prevalence of methods requirements in undergraduate political science degrees in the United States, there is virtually no systematic data on methods teaching in political science programs in other countries. There are some qualitative or summary reports on the state of methods teaching, with a firm priority on graduate education but no surveys of practice across the discipline (Mills et al. 2006; Strategically Important Subjects Advisory Group of HEFCE 2005; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada 2005;Högskoleverket (Swedish National Agency for Higher Education) 2006). This paper surveys the state of methods teaching in undergraduate political science degrees in Australia, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. These countries were selected because of their excellent track records in producing social science doctorates (National Science Foundation 2006) and the general comparability of their education systems. Methods A sample of universities was surveyed in each country in order to identify degree requirements for quantitative methodology modules, general research methods modules, and student research projects, thesis, or dissertation modules. The survey did not include optional or elective courses because the numbers involved would be too cumbersome to collect, too diverse to easily categorise, and too subject to yearly change to provide an accurate picture of long term curriculum standards. 4

Authors: Parker, Jonathan.
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be attributed to half the survey consisting of liberal arts colleges, which accounted for
most mandatory thesis requirements.
While there is now some data on the prevalence of methods requirements in
undergraduate political science degrees in the United States, there is virtually no
systematic data on methods teaching in political science programs in other countries.
There are some qualitative or summary reports on the state of methods teaching, with
a firm priority on graduate education but no surveys of practice across the discipline
(Mills et al. 2006; Strategically Important Subjects Advisory Group of HEFCE 2005;
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada 2005;Högskoleverket
(Swedish National Agency for Higher Education) 2006).
This paper surveys the state of methods teaching in undergraduate political
science degrees in Australia, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain,
Sweden, and the United States. These countries were selected because of their
excellent track records in producing social science doctorates (National Science
Foundation 2006) and the general comparability of their education systems.
Methods
A sample of universities was surveyed in each country in order to identify
degree requirements for quantitative methodology modules, general research methods
modules, and student research projects, thesis, or dissertation modules. The survey
did not include optional or elective courses because the numbers involved would be
too cumbersome to collect, too diverse to easily categorise, and too subject to yearly
change to provide an accurate picture of long term curriculum standards.
4


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