Introduction to Research Methods in Political Science:
The POWERMUTT* Project
(for use with SPSS)
*Politically-Oriented Web-Enhanced Research Methods for Undergraduates Topics & Tools
Resources for introductory research methods courses in political science and related disciplines
(Politically-Oriented, Web-Enhanced Research Methods for Undergraduates —
Topics and Tools) Project provides resources for introductory research methods
courses in political science and related disciplines. A key objective of
the project is to make learning more interactive through use of links both to
other parts of the project site and to other sites on the Internet.
The project consists of the
following main components:
- Topics. The core of the project, topics
cover a fairly standard set of subjects typically included in the
introductory methods course. All topics include an essay explaining
the Topic’s subject matter. Key concepts (excluding tools -
see the following bullet) are indicated in bold and italics, and are
listed after the main body of the Topic, with links back to where they are
explained. Topics include exercises and links to other
Web sites for further study. A few exercises take you to sites that
use Java applets. If these fail to work, you may need to change the
options in your browser to enable Java.
- Tools. Most Topic exercises require
data analysis that uses statistical software. POWERMUTT tools are
brief tutorials on the use of such software. Topics include links to
the tools needed to complete the exercises. Tools can also be
accessed directly from the menu bar or the table of contents.
This version of
the project includes
tools for analyzing data using IBM® SPSS® Statistics (Version 21), a software package widely
used in political science and other disciplines. SPSS is not
included with POWERMUTT. Check with your instructor regarding availability of SPSS in labs on your campus. You can also lease a single academic license for the latest version of SPSS at http://www.onthehub.com/spss/. Caution: By the time you read this, "On the Hub" may be leasing a later version of SPSS, which may (or may not) include changes to what is described in POWERMUTT.
Since they are designed to
support the topics, the tools do not attempt to cover all of the procedures
available in SPSS, or even all of the features of any given procedure. In
particular, some of the more elaborate procedures have a variety of
capabilities not covered here. Unless instructed otherwise, accept all
defaults when using an SPSS procedure.
The project also includes:
- Pop Up Protocols (POWERMUTT PUPS). In
most cases, when a topic presents results that were obtained using SPSS, a
link is provided to a “Pop Up Protocol” listing the steps
needed to produce that result. Note: the protocols assume that you
are starting each analysis from scratch, and that choices made for
previous analyses have been cleared.
Note also: for the PUPs to work properly, you may need to close one before opening another.
- Data Downloads. Most of the exercises
require analysis of one of several datasets provided with the
project. Datasets are in SPSS system file format (".sav" extension). The files can be
downloaded by going to the "Downloads" section of the project. The following files are provided:
- American National Election Study 2004 Subset (anes04s.sav).
- American National Election Study 2008 Subset (anes08s.sav).
- American National Election Study 2000-2004 Panel Study Subset (anespanl.sav). In 2002 and 2004, the Center for Political Studies reinterviewed respondents from the 2000 study. Each year, respondents were interviewed before and again after the election, so the panel study includes six "waves" of interviews, providing an unusual opportunity for longitudinal (change over time) analysis.
- The General Social Survey (GSS) Cumulative (1972-2010) Subset (gsssums.sav). Conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), the GSS is another very widely used national survey. The subset provided year includes a small number of variables taken from respondents in all GSS surveys through 2010. Not a panel study, but a series of cross-sectional (snapshot) surveys, the cumulative file provides another way to examine change over time.
- The United States Senate (senate.sav).
- The American States (states.sav).
- The Countries of the World (countries.sav).
- Codebooks. Topics include links to codebooks describing the relevant datasets. Codebooks can also be
Topic Downloads. Topics are available
for hard copy printing in Rich Text Format (.rtf), which can be read using Microsoft® Word and other word processors. The files can be downloaded by going
to the "Downloads" section of the project. If Word
is loaded on your computer, you can open the file directly by double-clicking
on it. You can also save it to one of the drives on your computer.
Links to Other Resources available on the
Internet for teaching and learning research methods (courtesy, California State University Social Scidence Research and Instructional Center).
Note: if pop ups don't seem to
work, you may need to temporarily disable any pop up blockers installed in your
Within a POWERMUTT Web page
(other than the home page and the table of contents), clicking on a link to an
address external to the page will open up a new window in your
browser. This is done so that you can work simultaneously with the
document and with the other material. For example, while working on an
exercise, you may need to refer to an SPSS tool and to a dataset
codebook. Some of these links will take you to another document
within the project, others to various sites on the Internet. Links to another
location on the same page will not open a new window in your browser,
and you can return to your previous location simply by clicking on your
browser’s “Back” button
I would like to express my thanks
to my colleague, Dr. Sandra Emerson, for agreeing to “field test”
POWERMUTT in her research methods class, and to her students and mine for their
many helpful suggestions.
The initial development of the
project would not have been possible without the support of a sabbatical leave from
Polytechnic University, Pomona.
April 28, 2013 .
© 2003---2013 John L. Korey. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.