FAQ

1) What is the purpose of the PSSP?

The primary purpose of the PSSP is to give undergraduate students first-hand experience with Political Science research. Students participate in political behavior studies being conducted by members of the Department of Political Science.

2) How many studies do I need to participate in?

You need to earn 8 credits over the course of the semester. Most studies are worth 1 credit each. However, occasionally an especially long study might be worth 2 credits.

3) Do I need to do the studies at a specific time?

Yes. In the Fall of 2021, there will be two modules, on the dates noted below. You need to earn four credits in each module.

4) What are the module dates?

Module 1 opens October 11. Studies will be open until October 26 (6pm).

Module 2 opens November 8. Studies will be open until November 23 (6pm).

5) Can I fulfill the course requirement in some way other than participating in research studies?

Yes. If you do not wish to participate in research studies, you can fulfill the requirement by writing an 800-word research-oriented reaction paper. Expectations for this paper, including submission instructions, are here (link will become active in October). The reaction paper is due December 1 at 6pm—a firm deadline.

6) What happens if I participate in some studies, but not enough to earn 8 credits by the end of the semester?

In this case, you would not have fulfilled the course requirement, and you would need to fulfill it by writing a reaction paper (see above). Make sure to keep up with the studies in each module!

7) What happens if the semester ends and I have not fulfilled the Research Activity requirement?

You will receive a grade of IN (Incomplete) in your class. You can expunge this from your transcript and receive a normal letter grade by fulfilling the requirement. But it’s a pain in the neck for everyone involved, so please try your utmost to avoid this.

Grades of Incomplete must be resolved by the eighth week of the subsequent semester. If they are not, they convert to a grade of F. So, please make sure to keep up with the Research Activity requirement!

8) I’m enrolled in TWO Political Science classes that have a research activity requirement. Do I have to do everything twice?

No. Credits you earn are valid for both courses.

9) I enrolled in a class with a research activity requirement in a previous semester. Do I have to complete the requirement again this semester?

Yes. The requirement is semester-specific.

10) I’m ready to participate in studies! How do I do it?

The link for the portal to participate in studies is on the home page. Note that it does not become active until the start of Module 1 in October.

11) What happens with the results of the studies once they are done?

Most researchers try to publish the study results in peer-reviewed academic journals. Please look here or here examples of a peer-reviewed studies that used the PSSP.

If you are interested to learn about the results of a study you participated in, write down the name of the researcher who conducted the study. It would be totally fine to email this person after the study is over to inquire about whether the study was published, and what was learned. Just bear in mind that the delay between a study ending and the data being analyzed and published can be long indeed!

12) I participated in a study and I think it had a mistake. Or, I think it was dumb.

Researchers try very hard to avoid programming and other errors, but they occasionally crop up. If you think you spotted an error, please email the researcher conducting the relevant study. They will likely thank you for it.

If you think the study you participated in was dumb or otherwise ill-conceived… perhaps it was! People have arguments about what makes for good research all the time. That’s part of science. But you should also consider the possibility that you don’t understand everything about what a study is doing, just by participating in it. For instance, you might have been randomly assigned to have one particular experience, while your classmate was randomly assigned to have some different experience. In this case, you might not know exactly what the difference was, how it influenced you, or what comparison the researcher hopes to make. See the papers linked above for an examples of this.

13) I have some other problem or question.

Please email us at pssp@unc.edu.