POLS 346 Paper Topic:

You are to study the political activities of an interest group.You may find useful the course web page on groups in the policy process.


Based on course readings, you should know how to locate environmental interest groups and what might be interesting about them.Please follow these procedures.

(a)  You have by now chosen a the group you will examine.

(b) Examine the background, objectives, available resources, and tactics of your group.Do not rely exclusively on the groupís website.What kind of group is it?Attempt to understand the world-view of group activists. What motivates them? Why do they see the world differently from other citizens? How do they characterize people on the other side of their issues?

(c) To do this you need to develop a critical perspective.We will work on this the week of March 14 and 16.

(d) On March 16 we will have panel presentations of how the groups you selected are involved in the policy process.Students will organize panels around group type and tactics.Your written report on your group will constitute a progress report on your project.††

(e)  By April 6, all field work on your group should be completed.Bring to class that day a summary of your major findings.We will devote some class time to discussing these.Bring to class the first page or two of the paper.This is usually enough to provide useful comments on the degree to which you are fulfilling the criteria for excellent papers, described below.

(f)  On April 13, bring to class the first two pages of your paper.This is not a short version of your paper—it is the actual page one and page two.

(g) The final WRITTEN report is due May 2.We will reform the panels, and discuss findings.


Excellent papers have these characteristics:

      7 to 10 double spaced typed pages

      Faithfully follow a recognized reference system

      Establish a clear focus and thesis—ask what is worth saying.This means you need to develop a critical perspective that enables you to organize the material and establish a relationship with your reader.The concepts about groups and institutions presented in POLS 346 will probably be at the center of that perspective.If you use alternatives, make them clear to your reader.

      Introduction is detailed, not overly general

      Use other course material effectively.For example, the concepts in your text encourage us to think about how interest groups organize, handle their own conflicts, address the public, strategize—use all of this to help your reader understand how this group operates, and how influential it is.

      Paragraphs present data, focus on clear arguments or interpretive claims.

      Argument is supported and developed by evidence, appropriately cited and integrated into text.To check the structure of your arguments, use Stephen Toulminís approach to argumentation (see his Uses of Argument, Cambridge 1969).Here is an online summary.††

      Writing is free of mechanical errors.