POSC 100 Policymaking Paper Instructions
Your Policymaking Paper is due by the end of class on the due-date listed in the course schedule included in your syllabus. A stapled paper copy must be submitted (no folders, plastic coverings etc. please). No late papers or e-mailed papers will be accepted. The paper should be five double-spaced pages in length, plus a cover-sheet and bibliography or List of Works Cited. There should be no direct quotations longer than three sentences. The goal of this assignment is to understand how American national governing and political institutions operate in the policymaking process. Your task is to pick a specific policy proposal (probably a specific bill that has passed or was defeated in Congress), and demonstrate how the American government operates to enact or reject a specific policy proposal (Your topic may be drawn from any time in U.S. history–recent topics are easier to research on the Internet, however). Your policy proposal is probably going to be a specific bill that was introduced into Congress, and was either passed or at least received a vote in Congress. The best place to look for these proposals is in the indexes of CQ Weekly (available through the library research database (compiled in CQ Almanac and CQ Researcher). There is a helpful tutorial posted on Titanium to assist you in navigating the CQ- Weeklies through the library database. This assignment is NOT AN OPINION PAPER. Ten Percent of Your grade for this paper depends on you clearing your topic with me ten days prior to the paper due date If you stick closely to the following outline you should do well:
***If you choose to do your paper on a subject other than a specific bill that has moved through all or some substantial portion of the legislative process (It must have at least received a floor vote in Congress), or if you would like to write your paper in a way that does not conform to the outline below, you must visit me in my office hours with a proposed alternative outline.
I. Pick a policy area & a specific proposal (e.g. the 2002 McCain-Feingold Bipartisan- Campaign Reform Act; the 2004 Unborn Victims of Violence Act; the Respect for- Americas Fallen Heroes Act of 2006; the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; the S-CHIP (State Childrens Health Insurance Program) enactment in 2002 or the conflict over its expansion in 2007-2009; the 2013 Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act; the 2014 Farm Bill; the 2014 two-year federal budget agreement; are all good possible topics). A good place to begin looking for a topic is in the indexes of the Congressional Quarterly Weekly Reports (available on-line, for free, through our library web-site. The Congressional Quarterly Weekly web-site will not give you full-text articles without paying a large membership fee. There is a tutorial posted on Titanium that will assist you in navigating the CSUF librarys CQ Weekly database.
II. Clearly identify the community problem the proposal was intended to address and how the governments agenda was set. Identifying how the agenda was set is not always easy and in many cases you may have to rely on the public statements of policy advocates (in newspapers or election campaign news coverage). Some policy proposals will have very obvious \”triggering events\” (e.g. the creation of the Dept. of- Homeland Security in 2002 or the enactment of the 1974 Federal Election Campaign Act- Amendments, for example). Other policy proposals will require more creativity, research, or a discussion with me during my office hours. Our discussions should give you some guidance in this aspect of your paper. Elections, party agendas (articulated in their party platforms, revised at their national convention every four years), presidential priorities and major events that highlight some social problem often set Congresss agenda.
III. Describe what the policy would do and clearly identify which national government institution (s) you are writing about (Congress, president, judiciary, interest groups, media, parties etc.). Remember: This paper must be about national policymaking and politics (Congress, President or the Supreme Court): Not politics or government in the State of California or any other single state, exclusively.
IV. Identify the political players involved in the political process you\’re writing about (e.g. the president, key members of Congress, interest groups and political parties). Identify the most important proponents & opponents of the policy proposal.
V. Describe what proponents & opponents of the proposal did to try to enact or block the policy proposal (This should be the heart of your paper). Proponents and opponents include government officeholders, private interest groups and political parties which try to influence the outcome of the public policymaking process.
VI. Resolution: Did the policy proposal become law, or did it die somewhere in the policymaking process. Most importantly, how did it happen? (Sometimes seeing how policy proposals are defeated is more interesting than seeing how they become law).
VII. Summary/Conclusion: Summarize in a paragraph or two how the institution you studied operated and articulate any conclusions you may have arrived at with respect to your policy area, the government, the political institutions you studied or the policymaking process in general.
**Do not feel absolutely tied to the above outline. Dare to be creative! If you follow the outline perfectly, including all of the required information, you will receive an \’A\’ for the assignment. There are, however, other ways to organize this paper and present the required information in the above outline. Please be sure to clear any substantial deviations from the outline with me.
The information that you need to complete this paper can be found in numerous sources. A good place to begin looking is on the Internet sites that you were referred to on your web-site compendium, posted on Titanium (Do not, however, make the mistake of relying too heavily on Internet sources). As a general rule, paper sources are preferable (learn to use the CSUF library!). Here\’s a rank ordering of possible sources:
A. Excellent Sources (These should comprise the majority of sources in your bibliography or List of Works Cited):
1. Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report: This is the single best source, containing virtually all of the information that you\’ll need.
2. Books on your policy area or government institutions (see me for possible titles).
3. The New York Times
4. The Washington Post
5. The Los Angeles Times
6. The Wall Street Journal
7. The New Yorker
8. Rand Corporation policy studies (available on-line or through the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica).
9. Public opinion polls (readily available on-line).
B. Acceptable (though not recommended) Sources:
1. Newsweek (on-line
4. U.S. News & World Reports
5. Christian Science Monitor
C. Unacceptable Sources:
1. Wikipedia is unacceptable under all circumstances DO NOT USE WIKIPEDIA AS A SOUIRCE IN YOUR PAPER. It is frequently unreliable.
1. The Orange County Register
2. Any FOX and MSNBC News broadcast, publications, or public opinion polls. They are opinion journalism and often present opinion as fact.
3. Salon.com or Salon magazine
4. The Drudge Report (either Drudge articles or any articles posted on the Drudge- Report)
5. Huffington Post.com
6. The Daily Bulletin (or other local daily newspapers).
8. The Enquirer
10. Rolling Stone
11. Reason Magazine
12. Mother Jones
14. Personal interviews with family members or other unrecognized experts.
When you are citing your sources of information, you may use any standard citation format. MLA, APA, and Turabian are all acceptable. Whatever format you use, be careful when citing articles you download from the Internet. Even though you found an article on a web-site, you are still responsible for citing it the exact same way you would if you found it in a paper publication (author, publication year and page number must be in every citation of any book or article). In your bibliography you must include all of that information plus the name of the publication and the title of the article or book. Simply cutting and pasting the URL into a footnote or parenthetical citation from the Internet is unacceptable. If you find a valuable piece of information from a web-site such as Thomas.loc.gov and want to cite it: simply include the web-address plus the date you retrieved it in a footnote. All web-citations, for this paper should be in footnotes (even if you are using the MLA format for the rest of your paper. If you are not sure about whether you are required to cite some information, a good rule-of-thumb in research writing is to err on the side of over-citing. If you are unsure, include the citation! NEVER CUT AND PASTE FROM INTERNET SOURCES, WITHOUT PROPER CITATIONS. YOU WILL BE RISKING A FAILING GRADE FOR THE PAPER AND THE COURSE IF YOU DO SO.
Writing Quality & Grading Criteria:
The quality of your writing is crucial! If I cannot understand what you are trying to say, I will assume it is incorrect. I strongly recommend that everyone (especially those writing English as a second language) take his or her paper to the Writing- Center to be proofread & revised. NEVER TURN IN A FIRST DRAFT! I recommend reading through your paper three times (at least once on paper). Spell-Check alone is not sufficient. Proper grammar, perfect spelling, no typographical errors and a clearly organized paper are necessary for an \’A\’ paper. Sentence fragments, run-on sentences, slang, informal language and profanity do not belong in academic writing (Consequently, your grade will suffer if you write an academic paper the same way that you might speak with friends on the phone or on-line). If I have to struggle to understand what you are trying to say, it distracts from my ability to think critically about your paper. Simply because a sentence or phrase is understandable, does not mean that it is acceptable in an academic paper. Do not use Internet shorthand or acronyms. Your paper should include a bibliography or List of- Works Cited, and citations in the text (parenthetical citations and footnotes are both fine). Any clear, standard citation format is acceptable (e.g. footnotes, endnotes, MLA, APA, and Turabian). Clarity of writing and paper organization are paramount! Please use The Elements of Style by William Strunk & E.B. White as a reference to improve your writing, grammatically & stylistically.
When grading the Policymaking Papers I take the following into account in descending order of importance: (1) inclusion of the necessary information, (2) clarity and organization of the narrative presentation, (3) quality of bibliographic sources and (4) grammar & style.
Common Research Writing Errors to Avoid
Efficiency in writing is a virtue. Avoid unnecessary and meaningless words (e.g. past history; that being said, having said that, back in the day). You will be graded based upon whether you included all of the information required in the above Suggested Outlinenot the sheer length of your paper.
In research writing every sentence must have at least one noun and one verb.
Do not use then and than interchangeably (Spell-check will not catch this error).
The words media and data are plural, so conjugate your sentences accordingly.
Do not use contractions or abbreviations in academic writing.
Use the first and second person sparingly (stick to third person unless it sounds awkward to do so).
When documenting an Internet source do not cut and paste the entire URL. Place only the following in a footnote: (1) The web address (2) the date you retrieved it and (3) a title and author if it is an article found only on the Internet. You will lose significant points if you simply cut & paste entire URLs from the Internet directly to your paper footnotes. Take the time to write the web-address & the date you retrieved it into a footnote!
Do not use opinions found on blogs as sources, unless the blogger is a recognized expert on politics or policy.
Do not put long Internet citations in parenthetical citations in the text of your paper. They look much neater in a footnote. The web-address and the date you retrieved it is all that is necessary in an Internet citation.
If you use an article from a paper publication that you find on the Internet (for example, from Washingtonpost.com), YOU ARE STILL REQUIRED TO INCLUDE ALL OF THE INFORMATION REQUIRED IN A TRADITIONAL CITATION OF A PAPER SOURCE (if an Internet source does not give all of the information necessary for a complete citation, simply list all of the available information it does give along with the web-address and the date you retrieved it). Do not rely on computer programs that format citations automatically. You will be held accountable for citations not in accord with these instructions. If you hit auto-cite rather than insert the citations by hand, it will negatively affect your grade.
Cutting and Pasting from the Internet: If you simply cut and paste information from the Internet, without attribution, you will not have completed this assignment properly and you put yourself at risk of being disciplined by the University for plagiarism. If you use information from the Internet, be sure to cite it in accordance with these instructions, and do not include any quotations longer than three sentences from any source.
It is always better to err on the side of including too many citations than not enough.
Always proofread a hard copy of your paper. You will catch errors that you did not when you proofread it on your computer screen.
Your professor only understands the Kings English, so avoid slang, Internet acronyms and all abbreviations.
***The single most important thing you can do to ensure that you receive a good grade is to consult me frequently for guidance and suggestions. Good luck.