What? – that is open to empirical analysis (i.e., through the scientific method and the application of data).

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This assignment has you pose an empirical research question relevant to your policy analysis project, find the best available data to answer the question, and offer an assessment of that data.
By “empirical research question” we mean a question – How many? What? – that is open to empirical analysis (i.e., through the scientific method and the application of data). For example, we can pose the question: “What percentage of Americans are food insecure?” That question, relevant to the general issue of food security, is open first to a debate over how we measure or define “food insecure” (e.g., by daily caloric intake? by income?). Then, assuming that there is a reasonable definition (or definitions) of “food insecurity,” we look for data about the extent of such insecurity, perhaps over time, to shed light on the issue of food insecurity in America.
The purpose of this assignment is to get you accustomed to posing empirical questions and finding and evaluating data to answer them. It will also become part of the data section of your major policy analysis. The quality of the grade will reflect the clarity of the argument and the overall completeness, accuracy, and effectiveness of the data used to assess that question. You are required to use more than one source for the data, and you must provide all sources for data and evidence wherever used.
Deadlines: You are to submit the empirical question itself to me via email by no later than Saturday, September 24 at midnight EST. I will review the question for relevance, clarity, and feasibility. Once I approve the question, you have until midnight (EST) on Saturday, October 8, to submit the paper as a Word document (.doc or .docx only) via the portal posted in the Assignment folder for Module 4.
Structure: The paper begins with a clear statement of the question and the larger policy question to which it is relevant. You will then clearly present data that you have found on the question. Evaluate the quality of the data (i.e., how well does it answer the question), including any inconsistencies or tensions between difference data sources. Finally, discuss what you take the implications of the data to be for the policy issue. Do not get into recommendations about what should be done to solve the problem. That is for later.
Required formatting: The paper is to be no more than 2 pages, single-spaced, with one-inch margins on all four sides, using US Letter page format. Use only Times Roman, 12-point font. Any tables or charts or other graphic material does not count toward the two-page limit, and is to be attached as an appendix. The same goes for any reference page. For the references, use endnotes with Arabic numerals, not footnotes.
Sample endnote format: C. Bosso, R. A. DeLeo, and W. D. Kay, “Reinventing Oversight in the 21st Century: The Question of Capacity,” Journal of Nanoparticle Research 13, 4 (February): 1435-1448.

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