I will hold office hours on Monday and Wednesday afternoons 1:003:00. I am also available at most other times if you make arrangements with me. I encourage you to come by for any reason whatsoever.
You should check your email regularly (as well as this syllabus web page) for updates, announcements, corrections, etc. You are responsible for any announcements made in class even if you did not attend. I suggest that you exchange phone numbers and/or email addresses with other students in the class.
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 them. 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 
35% 
Midterm Exam 
15% 
Final Exam 
25% 
Research Project 
25% 
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 with the department secretaries (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 (in groups of two or at most three), 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 and research project. Generally, weekly assignments will be distributed on Wednesdays at the end of class.
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. The final exams may be picked up in the Political Science office (745 SWKT) after they are graded. The exams will be discarded at the end of the Winter 2000 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 and instructor.
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. The papers may be picked up in the Political Science office (745 SWKT) after they are graded. The papers will be discarded at the end of the Winter 2000 semester.
I include the following information from the BYU 19992000 Undergraduate Catalog which guides how I grade and determine workload:
A  Excellent 
B  Good 
C  Satisfactory 
D  Minimum passing 
E  Unacceptable 
(See here for the graduate version.)
There is one required book that is available for purchase at the bookstore (or Amazon, Barnes & Noble, bigwords, or any number of online bookstores) :
The Gujarati text will also be used for the second semester of the statistics sequence (Public Policy 504: Data Analysis II/Political Science 539R: Econometrics). I have placed Gujarati on reserve at the Lee Library.
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.
There is another statistical book that is available for purchase:
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. (The 2^{nd} edition, published in 1985, is on reserve at the library.)
There are two 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 Kranzler and Moursund book is somewhere between Gujarati and Gonick & Smith.
Most Fridays will be spent in the FHSS Computer Lab on the 1^{st} floor. We will learn how to do basic statistics in a spreadsheet program, and how to do basic and advanced statistics in Stata. 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 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 (105 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. Please arrive on time to class so that we may end on time.
Note: G=Gujarati; K=Kennedy.
Date 
Topic 
Readings 
Assignments 

August 30 
Introduction and Overview 


September 1 
Measures of Central Tendency and Spread  G:A; K:B 

3 
Computer Class 


6 
No ClassLabor Day 


8 
Probabilities and Sampling  K:A 

10 
Computer Class 


13 
Sampling Design 


15 
Sampling Design (continued) 


17 
Computer Class 


20 
Quantitative Inference 

Project Proposal Due 
22 
Regression Analysis  G:12; K:1  
24 
Computer Class 


27 
Regression Analysis (continued)  G:3; K:2 

29 
Assumptions of OLS  G:4; K:3 

October 1 
Computer Class 


4 
Hypothesis Testing  G:5; K:4  Project Outline Due 
6 
Coefficient of Determination  G:7  
8 
Computer Class 


11 
Regression Applications  G:8 

13 
Dummy Independent Variables  G:15; K:14  
15 
Computer Class 


18 
Dummy Independent Variables (continued)  
20 
Functional Forms  G:6; K:6  Midterm Exam Distributed 
22 
Computer Class 


25 
Multicollinearity 
G:10; K:11  
27 
Multicollinearity (continued)  Midterm Exam Due 

29 
Computer Class 


November 1 
Heteroscedasticity  G:11; K:8.13 

3 
Heteroscedasticity (continued) 


5 
Computer Class 


8 
Autocorrelation  G:12; K:8.4  Project Preliminary Analysis Due 
10 
Autocorrelation (continued) 


12 
Computer Class 


15 
Model Specification  G:13.14; K:5 

17 
Measurement Error  G:13.56; K:7,9 

19 
Indeterminacy and Selection Bias 


22 
Endogeneity 
G:18; K:10 

24 
No ClassThanksgiving 


26 
No ClassThanksgiving 


29 
Process Tracing 


December 1 
Project Presentations 


3 
Project Presentations 


6 
Project Presentations 


NOTE! 7 
Project Presentations 


8 
Project Presentations 

Final Exam Distributed 
14 


Project Paper Due 
17 


Final Exam Due 
Jay Goodliffe's home page
This page is http://fhss.byu.edu/polsci/courses/fall98/328s001.htm