I will hold office hours on Monday and Wednesday afternoons 2:004:00. I am also available at most other times if you make arrangements with me. I encourage you to come by for any reason whatsoever.
This course explores the fundamental concepts of research design and empirical analysis, with a heavy emphasis on econometrics.
This course is designed to help you
PlSc 200 is a prerequisite for this course. PlSc 200 teaches basic statistical concepts, as well as writing and research techniques. This course builds on those concepts and assumes you know those techniques. Please see me if you have not already had PlSc 200.
Given the small class size, this will not be a rigidly structured course. I welcome your input in determining what subjects we discuss, and how and when we cover it. There are some topics that we must cover, but others are flexible.
The course will be run primarily as a lecture. However, I actively encourage questions, interruptions, cries for help, protests of disbelief, etc. You will never be penalized for participatingeven when this takes the form of vague complaints like, "I've got no clue why we are doing this stuff!" I urgeindeed, I expectyou to take advantage of the chance to talk with me during office hours.
Weekly Assignments 
25% 
Review Essays on Herrnstein/Murray and Gould 
15% 
Midterm Exam 
10% 
Final Exam 
20% 
Research Project 
25% 
Class Participation 
5% 
All assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day designated in the course schedule. If you cannot make it to class, please leave the assignment in my box (in the Political Science office745 SWKT) before class begins. I will deduct 20 points per day (including weekends) for late assignments (on a 100 point scale). That said, I am a reasonable person; if you anticipate a problem with submitting an assignment when it is due, speak to me before the assignment is due so that we can try to work out an alternative arrangement.
To understand statistics, you must use statistics. To facilitate understanding, there will be weekly assignments that may include any or all of the following:
You may work together on these assignments, but you must write up your answers separately. If you do not learn how to analyze or solve problems on your own, you will have difficulty on the exams, review essays and research project.
We will read the Gould and Herrnstein/Murray books (see below) to examine how statistics can be applied in social science arguments. There is a review essay on the Herrnstein/Murray book due before the midterm exam. This is worth 7% of your grade. The book has received a lot of attention and criticism. Your job is not to review the book's potentially incendiary argument(s), but to review the book on its (statistical) merits and whether the statistics support those arguments.
There is another review essay on both books due near the end of the semester. This is worth 8% of your grade. In this essay, you need to examine both books' arguments, and how they relate to each other. As in the first essay, you will be graded on your ability to distill the authors' arguments, and to analyze statistical and logical strengths and weaknesses of those arguments.
Work on the review essays on your own.
There is a midterm and final exam. These are both takehome exams that you will have one week to finish. They will require you to solve problems similar to those in the weekly assignments. You are not allowed to consult with anyone on these takehome exams (except the instructor). The final exam will cover material for the whole semester.
Students will write and present a paper on a topic of their choosing. The project will allow you the opportunity to apply the skills that we will develop in this class to actual data and problems. You may pursue any topic of your choice, subject to instructor approval. (Of course, one requirement is that you have the necessary data.) There are a number of deadlines that must be met, noted on the course schedule.
I strongly recommend that you consult with me through all phases of your research. I may be able to help you select a feasible topic, find data, or comment on your statistical model.
Proposal 
5% 
Outline 
10% 
Preliminary Analysis 
10% 
Presentation 
25% 
Paper 
50% 
Turn in a (no longer than) onepage proposal outlining the research question you wish to address, and how you plan to address it. Discuss why the research question is interesting, and possible data sources.
Turn in a (no longer than) twopage outline of your paper sketching out the argument you plan to make and/or hypotheses you will test, and how you will do it. Include a list of sources whose work you build on. Also list where you have obtained your data.
Turn in a (no longer than) fourpage paper that gives a more detailed outline of your paper. This should also include a detailed description of your statistical model (including what variables you use) and some relevant descriptive statistics for your data.
All students will present their research during the last week or two of class. The presentation's technical level should be geared toward a generic public servantyou will have to explain what your statistical results mean. There will be a strict time limit, and you should be prepared to answer questions from the class.
The paper's technical level may be higher than the presentation's. However, you should still explain what your statistical results mean in layman's terms. In grading the paper, I will consider how well you have used material from the course, how well you have used statistical analysis to test your hypotheses, if the analysis is actually correct (numerical accuracy and correct interpretation), how well you use charts and graphs, logic and organization of the paper, and the usual grammatical and spelling concerns.
There are three required books that are available for purchase at the bookstore:
The Gould and Herrnstein/Murray books are discussed above. The Gujarati book is an excellent statistics textbook that we will use throughout the course. I have placed the Gould and Herrnstein/Murray books on reserve at the Lee Library. (The library does not have Gujarati.)
There are three additional statistical books on reserve at the library. I would be happy to recommend other texts if you find these inadequate.
Although the title may discourage the serious reader, the Gonick & Smith book is an excellent introduction to statistics, particularly for those who find statistics dull and opaque. It also has the distinct advantage of being correct, even in the details (which is not always the case with such books). The Kennedy book has a different approach than most statistics texts: in each chapter it discusses a set of concepts qualitatively, then the same concepts quantitatively, and finally discusses the minutiae of those concepts. (There is a 3^{rd} edition published in 1992, but the library does not have it.) The Kranzler and Moursund book is somewhere between Gujarati and Gonick & Smith.
There will be other readings available to photocopy in the Department of Political Science office (745 SWKT) mailboxes in a box marked "PlSc 328 Readings." All readings should be read before class for full understanding of the subject material.
Some of our classes will be spent in the FHSS Computer Lab on the 11^{th} floor. We will learn how to do basic statistics in a spreadsheet program, and how to do basic and advanced statistics in SPSS. I expect all students to have a working knowledge of the Windows operating system (i.e., what backslashes mean, how to use a mouse, how to use pulldown menus, etc.). If you do not have such knowledge, take some time to get familiar with as soon as possible. It will not only benefit you in this class, but all others. Of course, if you are already familiar with spreadsheets and statistical programs, this will also help you.
Please arrive in the Computer Lab (1145 SWKT) before class starts in order to start up the computer and have everything ready to go when class starts.
Class starts at 9:00 a.m. I realize that this is early. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the Kimball Tower elevators are notoriously unreliable and slow. Count on taking 10 minutes to get to class once you have entered the lobby, and plan accordingly. Please arrive on time to class so that we may end on time.
Date 
Topic 
Readings 
Assignments 

August 31 
Introduction and Overview 


September 2 
Measures of Central Tendency 
DG 13 

4 
No Class 

Computer Familiarization 
7 
HolidayNo Class 


9 
Measures of Spread 


11 
Probabilities and Sampling 


14 
Quantitative Inference 
DG 4 

16 
Regression Analysis 
DG 5 

18 
Computer Class 


21 
Regression Analysis (continued) 


23 
Regression Analysis (continued) 

Project Proposal Due 
25 
Computer Class 


28 
Assumptions of OLS 
DG 6.16.5 

30 
Assumptions of OLS (continued) 


October 2 
Computer Class 


5 
Coefficient of Determination 
DG 6.66.11 

7 
Regression Applications 
DG 7 
Project Outline Due 
9 
Computer Class 


12 
Functional Forms 
DG 8 

14 
Dummy Independent Variables 
DG 9 
Review Essay ^{#}1 Due 
16 
Computer Class 


19 
Dummy Dependent Variables 
DG 14.414.5 
Midterm Exam Distributed 
21 
Dummy Dependent Variables (continued) 


23 
Computer Class 


26 
Multicollinearity 
DG 10 
Midterm Exam Due 
28 
Heteroscedasticity 
DG 11 

30 
Computer Class 


November 2 
Autocorrelation 
DG 12 

4 
Model Specification 
DG 13 

6 
Computer Class 


9 
Simultaneous Equations 


11 
Simultaneous Equations (continued) 

Project Preliminary Analysis Due 
13 
Computer Class 


16 
Maximum Likelihood 


18 
Indeterminacy and Selection Bias 


20 
Measurement Error 

Review Essay ^{#}2 Due 
23 
Endogeneity 


25 
HolidayNo Class 


27 
HolidayNo Class 


30 
Process Tracing 


December 2 
Project Presentations 


4 
Project Presentations 


7 
Project Presentations 


9 
Project Presentations 


NOTE! 10 
Project Presentations 

Final Exam Distributed 
14 


Project Paper Due 
17 


Final Exam Due 
This page is http://fhss.byu.edu/polsci/courses/fall98/328s001.htm