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About Comparativist

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  • Application Season
    2017 Fall
  • Program
    Political Science

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  1. Wait a year and get more coursework under way. It will make for a stronger app. In addition, with so little exposure to CS, how do you even know you really want to do research in it?
  2. This is what you do: If you use word, put up your paper on one side and a blank document on the other. Then proceed to rewrite every sentence of your paper. Doesn't mean every component of the sentence changes (in fact, sometimes whole sentences even survive). Sentences can always be written more clearly and succinctly. Then pay attention to each paragraph. Then pay attention to how sections flow. Start with the concrete. Move to the bigger picture. Word choice is obviously important in writing but at the end of the day sentences and paragraphs convey thoughts, not words. Words are mearly just vessels to get you there.
  3. I'll try to lay this out as succinctly as possible: 1) You develop a puzzle or ask a question. 2) Identify the empirical components of the puzzle that aren't explained at all or well enough by the existing literature. 3) Identify the main strands of the literature that could potentially address your puzzle. 4) Explain why the existing approaches do not explicitly explain the phenomena you are trying to explain. Point 3 is the main portion of the 'lit review.' You have to know how the literature is in dialogue with each other, collect the most prominent literature, then synthesize them. Discard what isn't relevant. Of course, there is a number 5: build your own theory. Sometimes certain aspects of the existing literature may be useful and can be incorporated into your own theoretical approach. Obviously there is a lot of things packed into these steps. You don't have to read entire papers to understand their value; the empirical section of the work may be totally irrelevant for example. There are also other shortcuts; some books already have ready-made lit reviews that you can base yours on. Another skill that is really important is being able to identify literature trees. Usually most 'themes' stem from one or two seminal works that then built on to test the theory, change it, expand on it, ect. Being able to see these strands from the beginning is really important for finding your relevant literature.
  4. Like I said, these are the top programs in the world - they are all strong in comparative and American. Perhaps your could make the argument there are some weaker ones. Yale's American subfield seems to be in a bit of disarray right now, I think Michigan's comparative subfield is weaker UNLESS you are doing Inglehart type work, which has dominated the department for a long time (then again, he will probably be retiring soon). Comparative is wierd because certain departments will be strong in some areas but weak in others. Berkeley used to be a juggernaut in Latin America but isn't anymore. Michigan hasn't had a single Latin Americanist for around a decade I believe whereas it now has two very established SE Asian scholars which is rare.
  5. Generally CHYMPS departments are strong across the board; they will have solid scholars in all subfields. There are exceptions however, for example, Harvard isn't particularly strong in IR. As you get to the latter parts of the top 10 you'll notice that some departments are stronger in one or two, but weak in multiple. This trend becomes even more prevalent in the top 20. Theory is often the one with the most variation.
  6. There's been dozens of threads on here about this, just do a simple search. Long story short is it's not going to hurt you but it's not going to help you either. Political science admissions are centralized to the committee and your POI may have very little say in who gets admitted or not.
  7. It's not great but fine, 160/168 is a great score and that's all that really matters. Many profs don't even look at AWA.
  8. Online streaming - not exactly legal (it's a bit of a gray area in many cases to be more specific) but it's not enforced.
  9. I highly advise against this. It's hard enough to come up with a coherent and interesting proposal, doing multiple is extremely difficult. It's fine to have broad interests but that portion of the SOP is designed to show the committee that you can come up with something interesting that speaks to academic political science. Spreading yourself too thin may come across as incoherent. Develop a strong, interesting, and tight research statement and tie it to the relevant faculty at each school. POIs do not have to be perfect fits.
  10. With a BA and a MA, why can't you have three LORs from professors? Your stats are obviously good but admission will entirely depend on your research experience, writing sample, and SOP.
  11. I block out entire days for one main thing (although this can be broken down to smaller tasks of course). So if I have classes MTW, for example, I'll do all my readings, class prep, and math exercises for the next week on those days. TH, F, S, would be reserved for research - writing, grant writing, collecting data, etc. This time can also be used for seminar papers. I always take one day off and Sunday is usually most convenient for me. I work from 9-6ish 6 days a week, never in the evenings unless I really need to finish something important (but I work/plan ahead so this is extremely rare). I find giant blocks of time to work on one larger task more beneficial for me because it allows me to get really involved into it.
  12. I wouldn't personally classify cold emailing POIs as a prospective student networking. The key for the OP at this point, if he wants to apply this cycle, is to do significantly better on the GRE.
  13. I don't encourage this as they have no real say in admissions process.
  14. https://goo.gl/images/vEBwyQ