Term Paper

As 22.5% of your grade you are required to write an 8-12 page term paper based on your own original research and data analysis. The following are my suggestions as to how this is to be done.

The first step is to choose a topic. It might be helpful to think of this in terms of a hypothesis or a series of hypotheses that you are interested in testing. At the very minimum, your topic will involve answering whether one or more independent variables influence one or more dependent variables related to Supreme Court decision making. Once you have a tentative topic, you next must make sure that the data you need are available for analysis. Sources of data include the datasets we have used this semester and The Supreme Court Compendium, available in the library or on temporary loan from me. Needless to say, other sources of data are also available, and you may end up wanting or needing to collect your own data.

Your next step is to conduct the data analyses appropriate for your paper.

Your final step is to write the paper. This should include the following:

         An introduction that states what you plan to test, and conceivably, why it is a topic worth examining (e.g., because it casts light on a model or theory, or it is of substantive importance, etc.)

         A literature that examines what others examining this question have found. Sources for finding relevant literatures include the textbook, the Index to Periodical Articles Related to Law, and me.

         A theoretical section that lays out and justifies the hypotheses you are testing. High quality papers will have theoretical sections that are tied in to one or more theoretical models that are being tested through your analyses.

         A methods section that explains where your data came from, that justifies how you operationalized your variables, and explains you statistical methods.

         A results section that describes your output, both statistically and substantively.

         A discussion section that reevaluates your theory, models, and/or hypotheses in light of your results, and

         A conclusion.


The paper must be typed, double spaced, and in proper form. This includes proper citations, bibliography, spelling, grammar, etc. Pay careful attention to citations. All material that is not either common knowledge or your own ideas must be cited, whether quoted directly or not! Of course, direct quotations must be cited as well. You may cite such information using either footnotes (or endnotes) or parenthetical citations. Whether footnotes or parenthetical cites are used, a complete bibliography must accompany your paper. Plagiarism will be dealt with by the maximum allowable University penalties.