William & Mary

Chris Howard's New Book on Research Methods

The Government Department is proud to announce that Professor Chris Howard recently published his new book, Thinking Like a Political Scientist: A Practical Guide to Research Methods (University of Chicago Press).

Drawing from over a decade of experience teaching research methods, Professor Howard wrote the book to transform a typically dreary subject and teach students the critical skills they need to more effectively assess claims about government and politics, to read published research with a critical eye, and to produce better research of their own.

Thinking Like a Political Scientist is organized into two main sections: asking good questions and generating good answers. In the first part, Howard breaks down the three fundamental questions in political science: Who cares? What happened? Why? In the second part, Howard demonstrates how to answer these questions by choosing an appropriate research design, selecting cases, and working with written documents and numbers as evidence. Throughout the book, he draws examples from American and comparative politics, international relations, and public policy to highlight the most common challenges that political scientists face. Each chapter then concludes with exercises where students can practice dealing with those challenges.

Thus far, academics have praised Howard’s work in Thinking Like a Political Scientist. The book “is engaging and relevant, as it takes students through what political scientists actually do – develop and test theories to explain political phenomena,” noted Sarah Poggione of Ohio University. “It is eminently readable, communicating the basic principles with wit and even a sense of humor. This book takes what is often considered an abstract and dry topic and makes it come alive,” said Sanford F. Schram of Hunter College, CUNY.

Paul Manna, the chair of the Department of Government, echoed that praise and also noted: “By any measure, Professor Howard is not only a superb teacher of research methods but he also is a superb scholar of American government and politics. His teaching ability and research prowess is a winning combination in the classroom for our students, and with the publication of Thinking Like a Political Scientist, now students beyond William & Mary will be able to learn from him as well.”

We congratulate Professor Howard on this great achievement!