The memorandum should be a comprehensive summary of the key aspects of the paper

The memorandum should be a comprehensive summary of the key aspects of the paper and it
should be entirely in your own words (it will be run through a plagiarism checker). I highly
encourage you to begin reading the article in advance because if something is confusing or
unclear, you are welcome to come by my office hours on Wednesday to chat about it!
Here are the areas you need to cover and I recommend splitting up the memo by these categories
so that you are sure to hit them all. You should include all of these sections (bolded) but you do
not necessarily need to answer all of the questions below – these are examples to give you a
starting point.
• The Big Question:
o What question is the author trying to answer? / What problem are they trying to
• Theory/Argument:
o What do they think the answer is and how does their explanation work?
o Key question to keep in mind: what is the mechanism by which their theory
works? If the authors theory is that A+B=C, the mechanism is how they explain
why adding A to B results in C.
• Methods:
o What evidence are they examining to prove their argument?
o Is it an experiment? How does it work?
o Are they analyzing data? Where does it come from and what can it tell us?
o Are they observing something happening in the real world or trying to model it
with a sample population?
o You do not need to get into the nitty-gritty details of the statistical models
• Findings:
o Usually found in the “results” section.
o What is the outcome of their research?
o How big is the effect?
• Implications:
o If they are correct, why is does it matter?
o How does it help us understand Congress?
o What does it say about our institutions/government?
• Strengths and Weaknesses:
o What are some limitations to their study?
o What did you find most compelling?
o Is there something they could have done to make it better?
• Connections:
o How does this research relate to what we are discussing in class?
o Can you see an example of this phenomenon happing in the real world? e