The Color of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in State Prisons

Summary of an Academic Study or Finding Assignment.

For this assignment, you are to summarize, and interpret the significance of, an argument or result of a study presented in an academic or scholarly publication (ie. academic book, peer-reviewed journal article, or think-tank report). To do so, you will first need to identify an appropriate study that fits the above criteria, familiarize yourself with the findings or argument, and ultimately summarize that argument in a way that is understandable and compelling for a college-educated reader interested in the subject (but not necessarily for a political science major). Note that this only requires you to read and report on a single study, but most studies will also provide a brief literature review that presents where the research fits within the existing literature and why it is important.

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Below are links to two examples to give you an idea of what this would look like. (They are a bit more than I would expect. But aim high!):

A Vox Blog on Polarization and Social Media: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/10/18/17989856/twitter-polarization-echo-chambers-social-media
(Links to an external site.)

A JSTOR Daily report on a normative argument for Open Borders: https://daily.jstor.org/case-open-borders/
(Links to an external site.)

The goal (Student Learning Objective) is fourfold:

Identify and locate appropriate scholarly or academic sources.
Demonstrate comprehension of high quality and sophisticated research.
Demonstrate an understanding of the implications of academic research for contemporary issues or concerns in political science or public policy.
Communicate your knowledge in a high quality, yet accessible manner.

Your grade will be based on the following criteria (the associated rubric is also provided online).

Criteria and

% of Grade

Distinguished

Very Good

Satisfactory

Unsatisfactory

Use of an Appropriate Source

(15%)

An appropriate scholarly source is used as the basis for the discussion.

A non-scholarly source is used as a basis for the discussion.

Demonstrates comprehension of high quality and sophisticated research

(30%)

Expertly presents the argument, finding and conclusion of the scholarly research. Nuances and caveats are identified. Findings from the research are presented in the form of a table/figure or within the text highlight the major results, and that evidence is clearly linked to the discussion.

Accurately and clearly presents the basic argument, findings and conclusions of the scholarly source. Some data from the analysis is presented, either in text or table/figure format, but it is not clearly linked to the discussion.

Presents the basic argument, findings and conclusions of the scholarly source, but some aspects are less clear or incorrectly interpreted.

The discussion incorrectly interprets the argument and findings in the scholarly source.

Demonstrates the implications for academic research for contemporary issues or concerns

(30%)

Deftly links the research to a contemporary issue or concern, allowing the reader to clearly understand the importance of the research as well as potential limits to its application.

Provides a clear link to a contemporary issue or concern, allowing to the reader to understand why this research is important.

Provides a link to a contemporary issue or concern, but the link is tenuous, or less than clear to the reader.

Does not link the research to a contemporary issue or concern.

Communicates Knowledge in a high quality, yet accessible manner (25%)

Expertly presents a discussion with a balance of sophisticated language that is understandable to a wide audience. Grammar and spelling are appropriate, and word craft is outstanding. Typos are minimal to non-existent. A citation is listed at the end, and links are incorporated.

Presents the discussion with a balance of sophisticated language that does not “dumb down” the work yet can be understood to a wide audience. Grammar and spelling are appropriate, and typos are rare. A citation is listed at the end, and links are incorporated.

A generally readable presentation, but with either overly technical or overly informal. Overuse of slang, or incorrect use of technical language. Typos and grammar could be improved overall.

A citation is listed at the end, and links are incorporated.

Use of terms, either technical or informal, are inappropriate and out of balance. Vulgar language is used to make a point.

To track down the piece of scholarly research (your scholarly source), please note that the following types of sources qualify:

Peer-reviewed journal articles
Academic press books (ie. The University of Michigan Press; but there are some that are not as clearly academic press, so ask me if you have questions).
A full-length report or study produced by a respected think tank (ie. The American Enterprise Institute; The Brookings Institution; Pew Center; CATO, Council of Foreign Affairs, etc.). Note that these do need to be full-length reports, not simply the think tanks’ blog or a brief. Reports usually run in the 15+ page range.

Where to find this stuff? There are a few links on the course’s Blackboard Web Links section that are good places to start. Google Scholar is one (but be careful to find published or pre-print articles or studies, and not just drafts that have been put up on the web by the author). JSTOR is a repository of academic studies, so most would qualify. Wikipedia is generally good place to start if you are unfamiliar with the issues. It often cites sources at the end, and you can use those to track down a scholarly source. Note that Wikipedia itself IS NOT a scholarly source. I also find a simple Google search works to get a sense of the general set of issues discussed within you topic.

The topic is up to you, but I recommend thinking about this in terms of a step in a semester-long research project. Pick a topic, track down a set of articles that you will eventually use for the Explainer assignment, and use one of the articles as the basis for this assignment.

Submission: Once you have completed writing your assignment, upload it via the link on the assignment’s page. Keep in mind this should be about 3 double-spaced pages in 12-point font. Please make sure your document is in Word, .rtf or .pdf format.

Your instructor is happy to help with suggestions for topics and address any other questions you may have. If you have questions, feel free to ask.

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