The Passivity of Political Science and Objective Science


I am in the midst of grading the first major written assignment for my introductory political science class and, as I grade these assignments digitally, I have my finger constantly pushing one key on my keyboard: That is, the key I programmed in Microsoft Word to automatically create a comment and write “Passive voice” within that comment. While it is no surprise that undergraduates opt for sub-optimal stylistic choices when engaging in formal writing, this problem does not end at the undergraduate level. Political Science graduate students engage in the passive voice throughout their writing and even many of our top Continue reading

What to Expect in Graduate School: A Primer

Editor’s Note: This post is co-authored with Andrew P. Owsiak, Assistant Professor of International Affairs at the University of Georgia, and is cross-posted at Relations International.  It also owes a debt to our colleagues in UGA’s Departments of International Affairs and Political Science that participated in the Graduate Student Professionalization seminar on September 12, 2014. Last week, we, along with several of our UGA School of Public and International Affairs colleagues, met with graduate students in our program to talk about graduate school expectations. For first year students, this was an introduction to graduate school. For those past their first Continue reading

Should the Decisions of Administrative Law Judges Be Subject to Public Opinion?

In the United States, if a citizen has a dispute with an executive agency, they can take the dispute in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ). The judge is supposed to act as a neutral arbiter in resolving the dispute. For example, if the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies someone disabilities benefits, that person can appeal the decision, and an ALJ is supposed to either award or deny the claim based solely on the facts of the case. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has tried to ensure ALJs remain neutral agents. The OPM has established rules and procedures Continue reading

Calling All Martyrs: Recruitment Incentives & Terror Attack Casualties

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Graig R. Klein. Graig is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at Binghamton University. His research focuses on domestic conflict, protest, and terrorism. This post is based on his article entitled “Ideology Isn’t Everything: Transnational Terrorism, Recruitment Incentives & Attack Casualties,” which is forthcoming in Terrorism and Political Violence. Since the al-Qaeda attacks on September 11th, 2001 and the subsequent War on Terror, much of the media, policy makers’, and, academics’ attention has focused on the increase in religious motivated terror groups and attacks since the 1990s. Prior to 1993, there Continue reading

Journal Acceptance Rates, Trends and Strategies


I was recently reflecting on Political Science as a discipline as I attended APSA along with many of you this past week. In particular, I had many discussions surrounding the seeming impossibility of placing certain articles in certain top journals compared to the relative ease of placing otherwise-comparable articles, but in different subfields or with well-known co-authors in similar journals. In the interests of full disclosure, I would like to note that I also do not have any publications in top-3 Political Science journals. John Conley’s recent study in Economics (here) shows how journal acceptance rates are dropping, whereas submission rates Continue reading

The Prisoner’s Dilemma in Introductory International Relations


This semester marks my seventh time teaching the introductory course to international relations and my seventh time incorporating strategic games into the course.  A staple game for any political science course is the Prisoner’s Dilemma and a typical introduction of the material to students may have students explain the concept or, perhaps, play it with a partner.  However, this introduction is incomplete as part of the major lessons from the game (for IR anyways) is how we can use it to modify our institutions, behaviors, or norms to overcome prisoner dilemma-esque situations.  Having played this in class that range from very small Continue reading

Term Limits, Polarization, and Party Leaders

I recently published an article about the effects of US state legislative term limits on legislators’ behavior. The findings of the article suggest that in the presence of term limits, state legislators in more professionalized legislatures spend less time on constituency service and more time fundraising with their caucus. In the article, I argued that since term limited legislators do not rely on their constituents to maintain a long term career in politics, they are less likely to spend time on constituency service than their peers in non-term limited legislatures. Instead, term limited legislators spend more time on fundraising since it helps them get Continue reading

Recent Lessons from Games for Political Science


The board and video game world this past week have at least two compelling reports that offer some lessons for political science. First, David Hill did both a write up for Grantland and a segment on This American Life about the Diplomacy (the game) world championships. Players in this game have to focus on territorial control and creating/maintaining alliances. This strategic game from the 1950s lacks a true randomization component (dice, coin flips, etc.). However, the game is not Chess either.  Instead, the components that makes the interaction dynamic from game to game are the relationships between the players (up to seven) and the Continue reading

Gay Marriage, Abortion and the Moral Foundations of Political Issues

Americans are becoming progressively more accepting of gays and lesbians.  According to polling from Pew Research, a majority of Americans now support legalizing same sex marriages.  This is a dramatic reversal from the public’s attitudes towards gay marriage just 15 years earlier, where a solid majority (57 percent) of Americans opposed same sex unions.  On the surface, this shift in public attitudes regarding whether homosexuals have a legitimate place in society seems to provide evidence that Americans are becoming increasingly socially liberal.  This view is bolstered when you look at Americans’ attitudes towards the legalization of marijuana, which like same Continue reading