A Brief Introduction to DAPPLS

I offered PS328, Research Methods for Political and Social Science, in the fall of 2014 when I first arrived at UMass. Four students were initially enrolled, and only three finished: Nelson Roland, Stephanie Chan and Tim Marple. Nelson graduated that spring, but Stephanie and Tim became part of the driving force behind the creation of a letter of specialization in Data Analysis in Politics, Policy and Legal Studies (DAPPLS) by the Political Science Department in spring 2016.

Nelson Roland, Stephanie Chan, and Tim Marple were thrilled to present their research project at NEPSA! (2015)

Students in Research Methods are required to conduct original research as part of the course: they design their own project, collect and analyze original data, and present the results to others in the class. There were no other students in Fall 2014, however, so instead the students (mostly Stephanie!) applied to present their group project at an Undergraduate Research Panel at the New England Political Science Conference (NEPSA) in April 2015 – and they were accepted! That presentation (pictured here) went so well that it became the first of many, including a flash presentation at the Midwestern Political Science Association (MPSA) in Chicago the following year. Tim and Stephanie are now leaving UMass for PhD programs elsewhere, but have consistently encouraged (and helped) us to ensure that other students have the same opportunities they have had to become engaged in social science research and practice by learning about social science research design and methods, working closely with faculty and graduate students on research projects inside and outside of class, and presenting their work on campus and to a wider audience.

Although there were only three of them that first year, Stephanie and Tim were convinced that other students would find undergraduate research as exciting as they did – and so far it seems they are right. PS328 has been oversubscribed for the past two years, and last year Doug Rice added a similar introduction to research design for Legal Studies majors. Students kept asking when they would be able to earn the DAPPLS certificate even before DAPPLS had been officially created, and now we are looking forward to our first graduating class. And the Undergraduate Research Engagement Program (UREP) continues to grow and thrive in the department.  The goal of this blog site is to share the ideas, insights and experiences of undergraduates pursuing DAPPLS, as well as other members of the UMass community actively engaged in social science research, with a wider audience. Welcome!

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