The key to building precise and persuasive theories is to develop and test hypotheses.
Hypotheses are statements that researchers construct for the purpose of testing whether or not a certain relationship exists between two phenomena.
Consider how political scientists have arrived at the theories you are reading and discussing in your course.
Most political scientists adhere to a simple model of scientific inquiry when building theories.
If you found that in every instance that the national unemployment rate was greater than 7 percent at the time of a presidential election the incumbent lost, you would have significant support for our hypothesis.
However, research in political science seldom yields immediately conclusive results.
Political theory is an important exception to this empirical approach.
You can learn more about writing for political theory classes in the section “Writing in Political Theory” below.
Political scientists study such struggles, both small and large, in an effort to develop general principles or theories about the way the world of politics works.
Think about the title of your course or re-read the course description in your syllabus.