MIT OpenCourseWare


Assignment 1

  1. Read the excerpts below. For each of the excerpts:

    (a) Compose a one paragraph argument (no more than several sentences) that reflects the underlying thrust of the explanation for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

    (b) Restate this argument as an empirical generalization that could be used in studying a larger number of cases of U.S. intervention.

    (c) For each answer in (b), describe at least four plausible observable implications.

    (d) Do this exercise with reference to King, et al., section 3.5.

  2. Next repeat (a) through (c) for your own area of research. Compose an argument, its corresponding empirical generalization, and delineate the plausible observable implications of the latter in a manner that could be the basis for an empirical investigation.

Excerpts (PDF)

Assignment 2

Read the Bentacur study on gentrification:

Betancur, John J. "The Politics of Gentrification." Urban Affairs Review 37, no. 6 (July 2002): 780-814.

Identify at least six possible threats to validity (plausible rival explanations) in that study. Describe how each threat you identify could arise and how a change in the research design might mitigate that threat. [Three paragraphs on each plausible rival explanation should be sufficient.]

Assignment 3

Choose a single case study in your area of interest. (It can be your own research study)

  1. State the core argument (3 sentences maximum)

  2. State the null hypothesis (3 sentences maximum)

  3. Diagram the individual steps in the "decision process" that link cause and effect in the argument. That is, do a process trace. [Your null hypothesis may require a separate process trace diagram]. Then derive the possible "observables implications" for each of those steps in the process trace. What data would you have to collect to assess those observable implications? What are there observable implications that discriminate the study and null arguments?