School of Public and International Affairs


2014-2015: The Tea Party and 2016

For this research project, I worked under my professor and alongside another Research Assistant to brainstorm and draft the beginnings of a book on the Tea Party as a political movement.

This work took considerable organizational and analytical effort.  We met weekly to create research calendars and chapter outlines that would serve as the foundation of each week’s work.

Research began with annotated bibliographies of current literature on the Tea Party.  After finding what had already been discovered and written about, we made a list of topics and questions that could improve the literature and would be the base for our work.  These topics included:

  • How is the Tea Party having such a large impact politically for such a young movement?
  • Will the Tea Party lead to the demise of the GOP?
  • How has the use of mass media sped up the success of the Tea Party?

Later, I was assigned to write a history of party factions; here, I analyzed how and why new parties emerged, how they had an impact on existing parties, and why they eventually died out as the two-party system consistently prevailed.   This involved research on factions including the Know Nothings, Liberal Republicans, the Greenbacks, the Populist Party, and the Socialist Party, among others.  This analysis was performed in order to make predictive statements about the Tea Party – is this just a party faction or a political development with potential for a much larger impact?

We compiled this work into a timeline of parties in general and compared these trends to current fission within parties.

Since the initial work on the Tea Party, my research duties have expanded to include:

A project on online courses and their effectiveness.

The goal of this project was to expand introductory level political science classes to online platforms.  We reviewed literature on the best practices for teaching political science classes online.  In addition, we collected statistics on enrollment in political science online courses from university-run online platforms and private platforms.

A comprehensive look at the 2016 presidential race.  

I created a workbook that contained information on publicly declared or rumored 2016 candidates.  This included data over the following factors for 29 Republican candidates and 24 Democratic candidates: whether or not they had formed an exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), their campaign website, their personal website, the number of times they have visited Iowa since the last presidential election, and the date and reason for each visit to Iowa.  This work is ongoing.

2013: Abortion and Incremental Reform

I researched under the guidance of a professor in the Department of Political Science during the Spring Semester of 2013.  The research project was a continuation and improvement on his previous research on abortion policy and the ideological distribution of Congress members.   This project helped fill in my research experience to include quantitative analysis over just qualitative argumentation.

Some of my duties while working as a Research Assistant included:

  • Cleaning and organizing data in services such as SPSS, Excel, and STATA.  This included data formatting from one software platform to the next.
  • Reading through and analyzing data previously published on the variables and writing reports based on the researchers’ methods, and the effectiveness in operationalizing the variables.
  • Searching through previously published, widely used datasets to determine their range of variables.
  • Searching for Political Science journals, as well as determining our fit within their publications. This involved heavy research on the qualifications of each journal.  In addition, it helped me learn the process for academic publication.