University of California, Santa Barbara

Political Science 155 Paper Requirements

(revised May, 2020)

Plagiarism Warning

Let me remind you about the use, or lack of use, of quotation marks and citations: The Campus Regulations have the following to say about plagiarism: "Representing the words, ideas, or concepts of another person without appropriate attribution is plagiarism. Whenever another person's written work is utilized, whether it be a single phrase or longer, quotation marks must be used and sources cited. Paraphrasing another's work, i.e., borrowing the ideas or concepts and putting them into one's 'own' words, must also be acknowledged." In addition, submitting the same paper to two classes is also considered cheating because the work is not original for both classes. Any act of plagiarism or other form of cheating will be rewarded with an automatic "F" and referral to the administration for further punishment.

The standard punishment for plagiarism is a two-quarter suspension from U.C. Santa Barbara. In addition, students convicted of plagiarism have the conviction noted on their permanent transcript. Anyone reading the transcript (e.g., a law school or graduate school admissions committee, or a potential employer) will know that you been convicted of cheating.

The First Paper: Learning Your Role

In this paper, you will describe the character you have been assigned to play in SIMCONG and you will begin to sketch out a strategy for playing him or her. You should begin by describing the person you are playing and the district he or she is representing (if any). That is, you must investigate the background of your character so that you know what his or her positions have been on a range of important issues, how he or she is likely to approach new issues, what the district is like, and so forth. The goal is to learn enough about your character and your character's constituency so that you will know how your character would act in the situations you face. Keep in mind that to understand a member of Congress, you need a good understanding of that member's constituency because members seek to please their voters. Consequently, a good way to organize a paper about a member of Congress is to describe the district at length and then describe the member, pointing out the influence of the district on the member's behavior. Remember, grading is based on realistic behavior (not on whether you win or lose). In order to behave realistically, you must learn how your real counterpart behaves.

Those without electoral constituencies, lobbyists and journalists, are still representing constituencies of a sort. Lobbyists are representing organizations, and can treat them as legislators treat their constituencies. They should describe the organizations they represent, the people who belong to those organizations, the policies of concern to the organizations, and the organizations' stands on those policies. Journalists are taking the roles of specific columnists as well as general reporters. They should describe both their columnists' backgrounds and views--as indicated by previous writings--and what their public expects of them.

This paper is a research paper for which you will need to do a substantial amount of library research. There is certainly useful information on members of Congress and other Washington players on the World Wide Web, but a good deal of critical information is only available in books or journals in the library. You are, therefore, required to use a number of sources—both from the library and the web—in writing your research.  For example, people who are witing about legislators should look at several editions of the Almanac of American Politics so they can trace their legislator's behavior back over several congresses.

When doing research, you should beware of biased sources, especially websites.  Politician and organization websites are great sources, but they try to make their person or group look good.  They carefully choose what information to present and what information to hide; and they carefully write descriptions to make themselves look good to the public.  As a result, you should never trust a politician’s or organization's website to present unbiased information.  That is why you need multiple sources for your papers.

Papers must be typed, double-spaced, and 5-7 pages in length. They should include bibliographic footnotes and references in a standard style (for example, Chicago or MLA). Please submit your paper on GauchoSpace and post a copy on the class Google Documents account so that others can read about your characters. Please turn in a manila file folder with your name on it for your advisor.

The Thesis/Research Statement and Second Paper: Analyzing the Simulation

In the second paper, you will describe some aspect of the simulation, discuss how it relates to the real world, and analyze it. The best strategy is to choose a topic discussed in some of the course readings. For example, you might wish to write a paper about:

You can also write about a series of events; however, you should avoid writing an excessively descriptive paper. The "How-a-bill-becomes-law" topic lends itself to dull, descriptive, nonanalytic writing—which will result in a poor grade.

Whenever possible, you should attempt to cast your explanations in terms of theories about Congress. In general, papers that deal with single subjects in depth will receive better grades than papers that deal with several subjects superficially. In addition, keep in mind that this is supposed to be an academic paper allowing you to reflect about what you have learned from the simulation. It is NOT intended to be a journal or a mere recounting of interesting events.

For your analysis, you should draw heavily on material from readings and lectures, and you should supplement that material with several other books or articles from academic journals. Be careful to avoid overuse of the information on the World Wide Web. The Web has a great deal of information, but little of it is of academic value. The best way to research your paper topics is to use melvyl and Google Scholar (

The Thesis/Research Statement is intended to help you get started. Briefly describe your topic, sketch out the approach you will take (e.g., you will use Davidson and Oleszek's "dual congress" argument to explain why members of Congress vote against their party leaders or president in some situations), present a tentative outline, and identify three or more academic sources for your paper. The outline should consist of a series of section headings, each one followed by one or more short paragraphs describing the argument or information to be presented in the section. The bibliography should include the sources of information that you will use in the paper. You must use all relevant material in the Political Science 155 required readings, and you must use at least 3-5 academic sources in addition to those in the Political Science 155 syllabus. The thesis/research statement should be 1 - 1/2, double-spaced pages.

Final papers should be from 5 to 7 pages long. They should include bibliographic footnotes and references in a standard style (for example, Chicago or MLA). They should be typed and double-spaced. See the syllabus for the paper due date. Papers should be submitted to the GauchoSpace web site. We will accept late papers, but because we have little time to grade the papers before the final exam, there will be a penalty for late papers. We will be flexible with extensions, but we have a hard deadline for grade submissions.

University of California, Santa Barbara