The first rule in writing a political science essay is to make sure that you answer the question set. No matter how well you may write or how persuasively you may argue, so long as you are not answering the question you cannot reasonably expect to attain the mark your essay might otherwise merit.
This is not to say that there must be a single correct answer to any given political science question, but even where there is substantial intellectual or moral disagreement each party must address the question at issue if the debate is to move forward. Thus, even when you are undecided about the right answer, it will always be better to argue that the available evidence is not sufficient to justify taking a firm position rather than to evade the question altogether.
Nearly all papers in political science involve constructing an argument.
The thesis for which you are arguing should be stated at the outset, in the opening paragraphs.
The main body of your essay should then be structured in accordance with the logic of the argument presented in order to substantiate that claim.
Rather than simply giving opinions, whether your own or somebody else's, you must provide reasons for your claims, bolstered wherever possible with factual evidence.
Relevant data, examples, case studies and other information should be marshalled to bolster each substantive point you make.
Equally important is that you address counter-arguments and counter-examples.
A political science essay is emphatically not an exercise in political partisanship. Try to put yourself in the position of a sceptical reader and ask yourself what objections they might forward against your argument and use of evidence. If these objections can be refuted, construct an argument to that effect; if not, your position will need to be appropriately qualified.
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