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Empirical Research and Writing

Empirical Research and Writing
A Political Science Student’s Practical Guide

November 2014 | 320 pages | CQ Press
Students can easily misstep when they first begin to do research. Leanne C. Powner’s new title Empirical Research and Writing: A Student's Practical Guide provides valuable advice and guidance on conducting and writing about empirical research. Chapter by chapter, students are guided through the key steps in the research process. Written in a lively and engaging manner and with a dose of humor, this practical text shows students exactly how to choose a research topic, conduct a literature review, make research design decisions, collect and analyze data, and then write up and present the results. The book's approachable style and just-in-time information delivery make it a text students will want to read, and its wide-ranging and surprisingly sophisticated coverage will make it an important resource for their later coursework.

Part I: The Preliminaries
Chapter 1: From Research Topic to Research Question
Doing Social Science

Research Questions and This Course’s Research Project

From Research Topic to Research Question

Finding and Refining a Research Question

Writing Your Paper


Key Terms

Chapter 2: From Research Question to Theory to Hypothesis
What Is a Theory?

From Question to Theory

From Theory to Hypothesis

Writing Your Theory Section


Key Terms

Part II: The Practicalities
Chapter 3: Doing Pre-Research
The Parts of an Empirical Paper

How to Think About Literature(s)

How to Find Literature(s)

How to Organize Literature(s)

How to Write the Literature Review


Key Terms

Chapter 4: Choosing a Design that Fits Your Question
Types of Hypotheses

What Type of Analysis Should I Conduct?

Overview of Techniques


Key Terms

Chapter 5: Case Selection and Study Design for Qualitative Research
Qualitative Study Design

Hypothesis-Testing Techniques and Case Selection

Writing Your Methodology Section


Key Terms

Chapter 6: Qualitative Data Collection and Management
Information, Data, and Evidence


Maximizing Leverage Over Your Hypotheses

Data Collection Techniques

Sources and Resources

Data Management Options

Writing About Data Collection


Key Terms

Chapter 7: Quantitative Data Collection and Management
Identifying Data Needs: What Cases?

Identifying Data Needs: What Variables?

Measurement: Matching Concepts to Indicators

Getting Ready-to-Use Data

Collecting and Managing Your Own Data


Key Terms

Chapter 8: Preparing Quantitative Data for Analysis
Transferring Data into Your Stats Program

Dealing With Missing Data

Preparing to Analyze Your Data

Other Data Manipulations

The Theory-Data Danger Zone: Endogeneity, Simultaneity, and Omitted Variable Bias


Key Terms

Chapter 9: Writing up Your Research
The Abstract

The Bookends

The Results: Conventions of Reporting and Discussing Quantitative Analysis

Discussing Qualitative Evidence and Claims


Key Terms

Part III: Post-paper Processes
Chapter 10: Practicing Peer Review
Writing Without Whining


Practicing Peer Review

Writing Your Review of Peer Research


Key Terms

Chapter 11: Posters, Presentations, and Publishing


Slip ‘n’ Slide

Post-paper Possibilities

Brief Remarks on Graduate Study in Political Science and International Relations




Instructor Resource Site
Password-protected INSTRUCTOR RESOURCES you’ll actually use!
Save time and ease class preparation with the additional guidance and tools, including:
  • Graphics from the text
  • Classroom activities
  • Instructor's Manual
Student Study Site
Open-access STUDENT RESOURCES put knowledge to the test, featuring:
  • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts
  • Chapter Summaries
  • Over 40 additional sections, essays, and examples to expand on book material
  • Research paper template
  • Extensive collection of linked and annotated data site links to facilitate student research

Clear and rich in hands-on learning tools!

Dr Alessandra Russo
International Studies, University of Trento
July 7, 2021

This is an excellent introduction for students starting a PhD

Department of Peace Studies, Bradford University
January 26, 2016

The students preferred this over Johnson et al, we will keep it on the syllabus for next year.

Ms Sophia Hatz
Dept of Peace & Conflict Research, Uppsala University
July 6, 2015

A well written and thoughtful piece for thesis preparation. I will use chapters of the book to advice my students to write empirical papers.

Mr Christopher Kaan
BITS Berlin, Business and Information Technology School
June 16, 2015
Key features


  • Concrete guidance for students shows students how to conduct research and write up their findings
  • Exercises for student practice and paper development allows students to practice key skills for better mastery
  • Specific guidance on writing, self-editing, and peer review gives students tools to improve their own work by combining information about scholarly norms and best practices with pragmatic advice from experienced researchers 

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

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