The Lost Coast, California

“A User’s Guide to Political Science”

Research and writing are central to our activities as political scientists.  This website is intended to aid students engaged in a variety of related activities: writing a senior honors thesis, taking courses in research methods, and writing a paper for a government or social science course.

My Recent Courses

Africa in World Politics.

Global Environmental Politics

Honors Seminar

International Law

Introduction to International Relations

Opportunities for Students

Join the campus chapter of the Roosevelt Institute and consider publishing your own policy paper in their journal: Cardinal Direction

Advice for Students

Peer Editing Guide {PDF]  [Word]

On Writing

Essay-Writing Guide for Political Scientists by UC Berkeley Graduate Students and Michael Nelson (PDF)

On Writing a Policy Paper

Essay Writing, A Personal View by David Rayside (U Toronto)

Writing a Political Science Essay by Charles King, Georgetown University

Suggestions for Writing Essays and Research Papers by Erica Chenoweth, Wesleyan University

George Orwell on Writing

Politics and the English Language (an essay by George Orwell)

George Orwell’s 5 Rules for Effective Writing (John Wesley’s summary of the above on “Pick the Brain”)


Joshua Sowin’s A Guide to Writing Well found via

5 steps to writing an effective paragraph from Getting Things Done in Academica

Advice for Students: How to unstuff a sentence found via

Advice for Students: Beware of thesaurus found via

Recommended Sources on WRITING STYLE and CITATION STYLES:

  • Diana Hacker’s A Writer’s Reference.  This is what I have used since I was an undergraduate. It contains sections on Composing and Revising, Effective Sentences, Word Choice, Grammatical Sentences, ESL Trouble Spots, Punctuation, Mechanics, Research Writing, Documentation (how you reference your sources), and Basic Grammar.  Her main website – – is also useful.
  • William Strunk, Jr.’s The Elements of Style. It is accessible through or through their website. This book focuses on the rules of usage and the principles of composition.
  • Another good resource is The Little, Brown Handbook (which is neither little nor brown). It covers the same range of topics as Hacker’s book above does.

Plagiarism. Wesleyan’s Policy PLUS  More on Plagiarism


More useful resources I’ve compiled.


Stepcase Lifehack’s The Ultimate Student Resource List



  • Mortimer J. Adler’s (1940) How to Read a Book is not very short but it is valuable. One of the things he does, for instance, is distinguish between “three distinct readings”. Structural, or analytic, reading proceeds from the whole to the parts. Interpretive, or synthetic, reading, proceeds from the parts to the whole. Critical, or evaluative, reading involves judgments by the reader. There is also a newer version of this book, co-authored with Charles Van Doren, which outlines four reading styles.




Berkeley Summer Abroad Fribourg, Switzerland 2007