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Undergraduate Research Methods Teaching in Political Science: A Comparative Perspective
Unformatted Document Text:  course is clearly dedicated to teaching quantitative methods, then it is recorded as 0.5 research methods and 0.5 quantitative methods modules. Theses, Dissertations, and Research Projects Many academics would traditionally call this type of module a senior honors thesis, but the course descriptions and types of research involved have expanded far beyond the scope of that single label. This classification consists of modules where students design and engage in their own research. It is often called a thesis, dissertation, research project, capstone course, or senior seminar. The course should be dedicated to the practice of research and the research process, including designing and conducting research or participating in a research project and writing up the results. Credit Weighting Comparing modules across universities in the United States is a daunting exercise due to the multitude of credit systems and student workloads operated in different institutions. Extending the comparison across countries greatly multiplies this problem. One possible solution is to calculate the number of credits needed for an undergraduate degree and classify modules as a set percentage of that degree (so in the U.S. one three credit module would typically constitute 1/40 th or 2.5% of an undergraduate degree). In addition, the use of a single European standard (ECTS) for module credits promises to enable quick comparisons of modules from many different countries. However, it is widely noted anecdotally that the ECTS credit designations are often works of fiction or assigned very haphazardly in European countries that don’t use credit systems that resemble ECTS. Further, countries also differ on how 7

Authors: Parker, Jonathan.
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course is clearly dedicated to teaching quantitative methods, then it is recorded as 0.5
research methods and 0.5 quantitative methods modules.
Theses, Dissertations, and Research Projects
Many academics would traditionally call this type of module a senior honors
thesis, but the course descriptions and types of research involved have expanded far
beyond the scope of that single label. This classification consists of modules where
students design and engage in their own research. It is often called a thesis,
dissertation, research project, capstone course, or senior seminar. The course should
be dedicated to the practice of research and the research process, including designing
and conducting research or participating in a research project and writing up the
results.
Credit Weighting
Comparing modules across universities in the United States is a daunting
exercise due to the multitude of credit systems and student workloads operated in
different institutions. Extending the comparison across countries greatly multiplies
this problem. One possible solution is to calculate the number of credits needed for
an undergraduate degree and classify modules as a set percentage of that degree (so in
the U.S. one three credit module would typically constitute 1/40
th
or 2.5% of an
undergraduate degree). In addition, the use of a single European standard (ECTS) for
module credits promises to enable quick comparisons of modules from many different
countries. However, it is widely noted anecdotally that the ECTS credit designations
are often works of fiction or assigned very haphazardly in European countries that
don’t use credit systems that resemble ECTS. Further, countries also differ on how
7


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