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Information Literacy: Political Science

Information Literacy Skills for Political Science Majors

What skills do your majors need in order to conduct research in your discipline?

Political Science and Public Policy majors should be able to:

  • Find and evaluate secondary sources, including scholarly books and peer-reviewed journal articles.
  • Find, organize and analyze primary qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Use secondary and primary sources to develop a depth of knowledge of the case(s) being analyzed.
  • Accurately cite a variety of sources according to professional standards in the field.
  • Construct an argument that integrates primary and/or secondary material to support and explain the author’s position.

In which classes will these skills be taught?

Introductory Classes

  • POSC 202, 202, and 205 help students begin to identify and properly cite scholarly sources while working towards constructing their own arguments.

Methods classes

  • In POSC 210 Political Science Research Methods, students learn to write a full-length political science research paper. In doing so, they are taught how choose a research question, improve their literature reviews, formulate a research design, develop a theory, analyze and interpret data, and report their results.

300 level classes

  • These upper-level courses use a wide variety of written assignments to encourage continued improvement in finding, interpreting and, most importantly, applying the knowledge presented in scholarly sources. Special attention is given to evaluating competing arguments and communicating applied expertise of scholarly sources for a variety of audiences.

400-level classes

  • Students are expected to demonstrate information literacy for a higher quantity and more sophisticated selection of scholarly works. Furthermore, since these courses are more student-led, ample opportunities are provided for students to interpret and evaluate scholarly sources for their fellow classmates. These courses also most-often feature full-length research papers.

How will you know that the students have mastered these skills?

While students in all political science and public policy courses are expected to demonstrate ongoing engagement with course materials, information literacy is primarily demonstrated through written work. These projects are then collected in each student’s ePortfolio, which provides both the student and department faculty with a compendium of work throughout the continuum of courses in the major.