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POLS 208 Research Paper Grading Rubric

Research Question

Name: ________________________

Clearly states a well-formed research question Provides motivation for the study, including: using a puzzle, reacting to a debate in the literature, resolving conflicting possibilities derived from intuition, or policy implications Appropriate invocations of relevant academic literature Defines relevant concepts for cause and effect Explains causal mechanisms connecting the variables using a theory Clearly states a testable hypothesis The hypothesis is derived from the theory and, if disproved, will falsify the theory Defines unit of observation Identifies the sample used for the analysis, and, if relevant, rationale for selection of this sample Defines the dependent variable measure & source, some description of types of values or summary stats for it Defines the key independent variable measures & sources, with some descriptive information for each Identifies what control variables are used & (very brief) rationale for their inclusion Do the key variables used validly represent their theoretical concepts? Will this research design test the hypothesis proposed and (by extension) the theory? Are the variables properly coded, including exclusion of missing variables? Identifies analysis technique Includes a visually-compelling analysis/appropriate use of graphs and charts Uses technique appropriate to the type of measurement for the variables (esp. dep. var.) Uses a method that allows for appropriate control variables Are the controls well-chosen? (appropriate explanation) Valid inference from test results, re: impact of key explanatory variables Assesses statistical significance for key explanatory variables Discusses substantive interpretation of findings (e.g., of slope coefficients) Discusses connection between results and hypothesis/theory Discusses connection between results and puzzle/question posed at the beginning Are categorical explanatory variables appropriately used and interpreted? Any other glaring errors of interpretation or technique? Contains the relevant information in tables/figures (N, beta, s.e., R-squared, etc.)? Discussion of potential violations of OLS assumptions, with attempt to correct Looks at multiple models/DV measures/IV measures to assess reliability/validity Paper adheres to structural guidelines Are paragraphs internally well structured? (not too long, has opening/concluding sentence/transition?) Good sentence-level word choice and grammar Uses real-language words for variable names in text and tables Appropriately cites sources Lacks redundancy, padding, or irrelevant material

Papers compliance with each category will be assessed from 0-5 36 categories * 5 points = 180 possible points Your total points: ________ / 180

Writing Quality

Analysis & Interpretation

Research Design