Political Science 328

Advanced Methods of Political Analysis

Course Syllabus
Winter 2004

Lecture: MWF 10:00 - 10:50 a.m. in W140 BNSN
Computer Lab: M 8:00 - 8:50 a.m. or M 9:00 - 9:50 a.m. in 102 SWKT

Instructor: Jay Goodliffe
Office: 752 SWKT
Office Hours: MW 11 a.m. - 12 noon, and by appointment
Phone: 422-9136
e-mail: goodliffe@byu.edu
Teaching Assistant: Kristina Gale
Office: 1142(3) SWKT
Office Hours: W 8 - 10 a.m., R 7 - 9 p.m.
Phone: 422-8775
e-mail: ksg8@email.byu.edu


Home Page
Office Hours
How to Succeed in this Course
Computer Labs
Academic Honesty and Plagiarism

Home Page

The home page for Political Science 328 is http://fhss.byu.edu/polsci/Goodliffe/328/. Check the home page often for announcements, corrections, instructions for assignments, syllabus, etc. You should also check your email regularly.

Office Hours

I will hold office hours on Mondays and Wednesdays 11 a.m. to 12 noon. I am also available at most other times if you make arrangements with me. I encourage you to come by to talk about assignments in the class, suggestions for improving the class, politics and current events, the perils of student life, or for any other reason.


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

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 participating--even when this takes the form of vague complaints like, "I've got no clue why we are doing this stuff!" I urge--indeed, I expect--you to take advantage of the chance to talk with me during office hours.


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 had the appropriate prerequisite.


Weekly Assignments


Midterm Exam


Final Exam


Research Project


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 office--745 SWKT) before class begins. Alternatively, you may email me the assignment. I will not accept late assignments. The primary reason for no late assignments is so that we can discuss the assignment in class immediately after it is turned in. 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.

Weekly Assignments

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 posted on Fridays and be due in class one week later.


There is a midterm and final exam. These are both take-home 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 take-home 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 Summer 2004 term.

Research Project

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.) In your project, you will test a theory that uses a continuous dependent variable (roughly), and at least two independent variables. There are a number of deadlines that must be met, noted on the course schedule.

I strongly recommend that you consult with me and the teaching assistant 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.





Preliminary Analysis





Turn in a (no longer than) one-page 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) two-page 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.

Preliminary Analysis

Turn in a (no longer than) four-page 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.


The paper's technical level should be geared toward a generic public servant--you will have to explain what your statistical results mean. 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 Summer 2004 term.

How to Succeed in this Course

The course is graded on a modified curve, using statistical principles that will be explained in the course.

I include the following information from the BYU 2003-2004 Undergraduate Catalog which guides how I grade and determine workload:

"The grade given in a course is the teacher's evaluation of the student's performance, achievement, and understanding in that subject as covered in the class. The following adjectives indicate the meaning of the letter grades:
A Excellent
B Good
C Satisfactory
D Minimum passing
E Unacceptable
"Hence, the grade A means that the student's performance, achievement, and understanding were excellent in the portion of the subject covered in the class.
"There are prerequisites that qualify students to be admitted to the more advanced classes offered by a department. A senior has added experience, understanding, and preparation and, consequently, progresses in courses that would have been impossible when the student was a freshman. The level of performance, achievement, and understanding required to qualify for each grade that carries credit (any grade other than E, UW, I, IE, or WE) is higher in a more advanced class than in those classes that precede it, and the student is prepared to work at this higher level" (p. 48).
"The expectation for undergraduate courses is three hours of work per week per credit hour for the average student who is appropriately prepared; much more time may be required to achieve excellence" (p. 46).

Putting these statements together, the university expects an "average student" to work "much more" than 12 hours a week to receive an 'A' (= "excellence") in a 4 credit-hour course. This is my expectation as well.

This workload has been affirmed by President Bateman in two of his recent devotional addresses. On 7 September 1999, he stated, "It takes approximately three hours of study outside class for every hour in the classroom. If you take 15 hours of credit, you should allocate upward of 45 hours for study per week." On 19 September 2000, he advised, "Study daily--at least three hours for every hour in class."

Students who have succeeded in this course have the following characteristics. They


The text for the course is:

There are also two recommended texts:

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 book is specifically written for the math-phobic. Another reason to use the recommended texts is that repeated exposure to the same material increases understanding. There are also some web sites that I can recommend which cover the material in the class.

The second (earlier) edition of the Agresti and Finlay text is on reserve at the Lee Library. The Gonick & Smith is also on reserve, as well as the second (earlier) edition of Kranzler.

There may be other readings available to photocopy in the Department of Political Science office (745 SWKT). All readings should be read before class for full understanding of the subject material.

Computer Labs

On Monday morning, there will be two computer labs in 102 SWKT (first lab on the left in the FHSS Computer Center). We will learn how to do basic and advanced statistics in Stata. We may also learn how to do statistics in a couple of other programs to increase flexibility and marketability for future work opportunities. Each week, the lab will cover the commands necessary to do the weekly assignments.

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 pull-down 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 other classes and jobs. Of course, if you are already familiar with spreadsheets and statistical programs, this will also help you.

Please arrive in the Computer Lab before class starts to start up the computer and have everything ready to go when class starts.

Academic Honesty and Plagiarism

From the Academic Honesty section of the BYU Honor Code: "The first injunction of the BYU Honor Code is the call to `be honest.' Students come to the university not only to improve their minds, gain knowledge, and develop skills that will assist them in their life's work, but also to build character. `President David O. McKay taught that character is the highest aim of education' (The Aims of a BYU Education, p. 6). It is the purpose of the BYU Academic Honesty Policy to assist in fulfilling that aim.

"BYU students should seek to be totally honest in their dealings with others. They should complete their own work and be evaluated based upon that work. They should avoid academic dishonesty and misconduct in all its forms, including but not limited to plagiarism, fabrication or falsification, cheating, and other academic misconduct." Read the full version here (parts attached to the original paper syllabus).

A colleague (Professor Mitch Sanders of Notre Dame) has already explicated these issues specifically for political science. Please read here (also attached to the original paper syllabus).

If you write a paper for another course (past or present) that uses the same topic as the paper for this course, you need to approve it with me first, and then you must turn in to me a copy of the paper from your other course.


Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in an educational program or activity that receives federal funds. The act is intended to eliminate sex discrimination in education. Title IX covers discrimination in programs, admissions, activities, and student-to-student sexual harassment. BYU’s policy against sexual harassment extends not only to employees of the university but to students as well. If you encounter unlawful sexual harassment or gender based discrimination, please talk to your professor; contact the Equal Employment Office at 422-5895 or 367-5689 (24-hours); or contact the Honor Code Office at 422-2847.

Brigham Young University is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have any disability which may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the University Accessibility Center (422-2767). Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the UAC office. If you need assistance or if you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established grievance policy and procedures. You should contact the Equal Employment Office at 422-5895, D-282 ASB.

Schedule (subject to change)

Note: AF=Agresti and Finlay; GS=Gonick & Smith; K=Kranzler.





January 5




Introduction AF:1; GS:1; K:1-3  


Measurement AF:2.1-2.2  



AF:2.3-2.5; GS:6



Central Tendency AF:3.1-3.3; GS:2; K:4-5



Central Tendency  



No class--Martin Luther King Day  



Variance AF:3.4-3.6



Probability AF:4.1; GS:3



Probability Distribution AF:4.2; GS:4-5; K:6-7 Project Proposal Due


Sampling Distribution AF:4.3; GS:6



Central Limit Theorem AF:4.4-4.6


February 2

Point Estimation AF:5.1  


Confidence Intervals AF:5.2-5.6; GS:7  


Confidence Intervals    


Hypothesis Tests AF:6.1-6.4; GS:8; K:10 Project Outline Due


t Distribution AF:6.5-6.8; K:11



t Distribution




No class--Presidents' Day



NOTE! 17

Comparing Means AF:7.1-7.3; GS:9  


Comparing Means    


Dependent Samples AF:7.4-7.6  


Crosstabs AF:8.1-8.3; K:13  


Tests of Association AF:8.4-8.8  


Tests of Association   Midterm Exam Distributed

March 1

Bivariate Regression AF:9.1-9.3; GS:11; K:9  


Regression Inference AF:9.4-9.5; K:8



Regression Assumptions

AF:9.6-9.7 Midterm Exam Due


Causality AF:10



Multiple Regression AF:11.1-11.2  


R-squared AF:11.3  


Inference AF:11.4-11.9





Dummy Variables AF:12.1-12.3



Dummy Variables   Preliminary Analysis Due


Comparison to ANOVA AF:12.4-12.9; K:12



Interaction Terms AF:13.1-13.3 (11.5)



Interaction Terms




Comparison to ANCOVA AF:13.4-13.6


April 2

Diagnostics AF:14.1-14.3



Functional Forms




Functional Forms










Project Paper Due
Final Exam Distributed




Final Exam Due

Political Science 328 home page

Jay Goodliffe's home page

This page is http://fhss.byu.edu/polsci/Goodliffe/328/syllabus.htm