Department of Political Science, Queens College




Writing Political Science Papers: Some Useful Guidelines
Peter Liberman, Dept. of Political Science, Queens College, October 2006

A good paper informs and persuades; to do this it must be logically organized, clearly argued, and well documented. Good writing is hard work, but following the rules of thumb below will help you to write better papers and to do so more efficiently.

Getting More Help
Some excellent general sources on writing are William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements of Style;  Kate Turabian, A Student’s Guide to Writing College Papers; Richard Lanham, Revising Prose; and William Zinsser, On Writing Well.

For advice on writing research papers and constructing more complex arguments, I strongly recommend Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (1995). Clear guidelines for punctuation, format, and citations for research papers can be found in Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (various editions and years).

Queens College has a Writing Center at 229 Kiely Hall (997-5676) that provides workshops on writing and research skills and also provides individual tutoring.  Fellow students can critique each other’s papers in the rough-draft stage, though it is too much to ask–and may violate plagiarism rules, unless expressly suggested by your professor–to ask a fellow student to do more than identify the weak points of a paper or make general suggestions.