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Public Policy Research Paper

Public Policy Research Paper

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A public policy is a plan of action with which the government attempts to solve an economic or social problem.  In this paper (worth 50 points) you will examine a specific public policy.  Possible topics include:


Affirmative action

3-strikes law /mandatory sentencing guidelines

The Affordable Care Act

Tax policy

Gun control

Reducing mass shootings

Racial profiling

Law enforcement reform

Welfare spending/reform

Environmental regulation

The endangered species act

Climate change policy

Military spending

Military intervention abroad

Immigration reform

The war on drugs

Congressional term limits

Campaign finance reform

Stem cell research

Mandatory helmet laws

Marriage equality

Accommodations for transgendered people

Adoption by homosexual couples

Legalization of drugs

Media regulation

Farm subsidies

Hate crimes legislation

Financial aid for college students

Reducing the national debt

Balancing the budget

Domestic partner benefits


Choose one of these topics or another policy issue approved by your professor.


Your paper must address the following three points:


First discuss the details of the policy issue you are examining.  Give the basic facts such as what the problem is, how the policy attempts to solve the problem, who would be affected by changes in the policy, and whether the issue has been addressed by policy makers in the past.  Include any other pertinent details.  This section of the paper should be at least one and a half to two pages long but you can make it longer if you like.


Second discuss the opinions of those in favor of the particular public policy change and those against it.  For example if you are writing about the three-strikes law, tell why some oppose it and why some think it is a good idea.  This part of your paper should not reflect your opinion on the issue, rather it should be an unbiased look at both sides of the issue.  It will take about a page and a half to adequately cover each side of the argument so this section of the paper should be around three pages long.


Third identify your position on the topic and explain why you hold that opinion.  This section of the paper should be at least one half a page long but may be longer if you have a lot to say about the issue.


Papers must be 3-6 pages long (not including the bibliography), typed and double spaced.  If you use particularly large font, your paper must be correspondingly longer.  You must cite at least three sources which can include books, journal articles, newspaper articles and the internet.  You can use our textbook but it will not count as one of the outside sources.  At least one of the three sources must be from printed material (not including the textbook).  You should have at least three source citations per page, more would be better.  You must include a bibliography in one of the major styles.  I recommend  APA, MLA, or Turabian since you will probably use one of them in other classes.


Papers will be evaluated based on the amount of relevant information they contain and how well they integrate and illustrate concepts learned in class.  The paper is not simply an opportunity for you to express your opinions on political issues (except for the third section of the paper). Your paper must provide a well researched, balanced examination of your topic to earn a satisfactory grade.


Please see the syllabus for the due date.  Remember that papers will lose 5 points for every class meeting they are late and will not be accepted after the last day of class.

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Category: Sample Questions