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abstract
A summary of an article usually found at the beginning of the article.

 
administrative ethics
The rules or standards governing the moral conduct of the members of a public administrative organization.

 
adverse personnel actions
Personnel activities such as reprimands and dismissals taken against an employee because of incompetence or violation of established agency policies or practices.

 
agenda setting
The stage of the policymaking process during which problems get defined as political issues.

 
aggregate data
Data that is based on groups of units that are put together, such as data for states, cities, or nations. Aggregate data is often referred to as ecological data.

 
analytical budgeting
An alternative to the traditional incremental, line-item approach to public budgeting. Examples include Management By Objectives, Zero-Based Budgeting, and Planning, Programming, and Budgeting.

 
antecedent variable
An independent variable that precedes other independent variables in time.

 
applied research
Research designed to produce knowledge useful in altering a real-world condition or situation.

 
association
The statistical relationship between two or more variables, either by co-variation or joint occurrence.

 
asymmetrical statistic
A measure of association that requires you to identify a dependent variable and an independent variable. The lambda coefficient is an example.

 
authority
The ability to affect the actions or predispositions of others to act because people feel obliged to comply because compliance is right or correct.
 
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bar graph
A type of graphic display of a frequency or a percentage distribution of data. Bar graphs are used with discrete data.

 
behavioralism
The study of politics that focuses on political behavior and embraces the scientific method.

 
beta coefficient
A statistic used to assess the relative importance of predictive variables in a single regression equation. The coefficient is also known as the standardized partial regression coefficient.

 
bivariate analysis
The examination of the relationship between two variables.

 
bivariate table
A table showing the relationship between two variables by displaying all the combinations of categories of the variables.

 
blank foreign elements
A threat to the usefulness of a sample frame. This problem occurs when the sample units of a sample frame are not a part of the original population.

 
bureaucracy
A system of authority relations defined by rationally developed rules. Bureaucracy in today's world refers primarily to government agencies that are characterized by day-to-day policy functions.

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causal relationship
A relationship that occurs when the variation in one variable independent of variation in other variables causes variation in a second variable.

 
causation
A phenomenon that involves three distinct operations: establishing the time order of the occurrences, demonstrating co-variation, and eliminating spurious relations. Causation also requires theoretical justification.

 
central tendency
The most frequently observed, common, or central value in the distribution of values of a variable.

 
chi square
A measure used with cross-tabulation to determine if a relationship is statistically significant.

 
Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) of 1978
A major legislative act that reformed the federal personnel system. It assigned the functions performed by the Civil Service Commission to two new and separate agencies: the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Office of Personnel Management. It also provided for an appeals procedure for employees to use to address grievances.

 
classic experimental design
An experiment with random assignment of subjects to experimental and control groups with a pretest and a posttest for both groups.

 
cluster of elements
A threat to the usefulness of a sample frame. This problem occurs when the sample units of a sample frame are listed in groups rather than individually.

 
co-vary
The situation where a unit change in one variable (i.e., education) is paralleled with some degree of regularity by a comparable change in another variable (i.e., income).

 
code book
A book that identifies observations and the numbers assigned to describe the categories of the observations. Today, most computer data analysis programs contain an internal code book that is produced when analysts define the variables of a data set.

 
coefficient of determination
A statistic that is a reduction of variance ratio. It refers to the amount of variance in one variable that is accounted for by the variation in another variable. It is commonly used to depict the explained variance in a bivariate regression equation.

 
coefficient of multiple determination
A statistic that is similar to the coefficient of determination statistic. It is used, however, in a multiple variable regression equation.

 
comparative politics
A subfield of political science that attempts to compare and contrast the world’s political systems; where different political systems are examined for likeness and differences.

 
comparison
The operational process required to demonstrate that two variables are correlated.

 
compensation plans
Plans that outline the types of payment to employees for their services.

 
composite index
An index developed by using several items (questions) to measure complex concepts. Although somewhat crude, it is an efficient way to summarize information and enhance the validity of an analysis.

 
concept
An abstraction based on the characteristics of some perceived reality. Political participation, for example, is a concept based on voting, campaigning, and running for office.

 
confidence level
The probability that the population parameter actually falls within the margin of error of a sample statistic. See also level of statistical significance.

 
consent
The political theory that governments should exist and operate only with the approval of the governed.

 
content analysis
Any technique for making inferences by systematically and objectively identifying specified characteristics of messages. It involves procedures by which verbal, nonquantitative records are transformed into quantitative data.

 
content validity
The ability to demonstrate that a measure of a concept can be used in an analysis by showing that it covers the full theoretical domain of the concept.

 
continuous variable
A variable that, in principle, can take on any value within its range of possible values. For example, the actual time it takes to run a race (sixteen minutes, five seconds, and so on).

 
control
The next logical step after you find a relationship between an independent and dependent variable. Controlling techniques are important because they help you to clarify the critical issue of causation.

 
control group
A group of subjects who do not receive the experimental treatment or test stimulus.

 
convenience sample
A nonprobability sample in which the selection of elements is determined by the researcher's convenience.

 
Cramer's V
A variation of the phi statistic. It is designed for use with a cross-table of any size. It is used with nominal-level data.

 
critique
A critical evaluation of a piece of literature.

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decision makers
Those people in government who confront issues and make public policy.

 
deduction
A process of reasoning from a theory to specific observations.

 
degrees of freedom
A measure used in conjunction with chi square and other measures to determine if a relationship is statistically significant.

 
democracy
A system of government in which, in theory, the people rule, either directly or indirectly.

 
dependent variable
The phenomenon thought to be influenced, affected, or caused by some other phenomenon.

 
descriptive statistics
The mathematical summary of measurements for a set of data.

 
deterrence
The defense policy of American strategists during the Eisenhower administration, who believed the Soviets would not take aggressive action knowing they risked nuclear annihilation.

 
discrete variable
A variable that can have only certain values within its range. The size of one's family is an example of a discrete variable.

 
discriminate validity
A measurement that allows one to distinguish a concept from similar concepts.

 
dispersion
The distribution of data values around the most common, middle, or average value.

 
distributive policy
Policy involving the provision of benefits to citizens.

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economic security
Having a relatively strong economy within a nation-state.

 
election exit polls
Polls that require researchers to interview voters as they exit the voting booth.

 
elite theory
A theory following the idea that despite the procedural characteristics of majoritarian democracy and the presence of different groups, a very small minority makes all the important governmental decisions.

 
epistemology
The study of the foundations of knowledge.

 
equality
The principle that all individuals have moral worth and are entitled to fair treatment under the law.

 
experimental group
A group of research subjects who receive the treatment or test stimulus.

 
experimental mortality
A differential loss of subjects from experimental and control groups that affects equivalency of groups.

 
external validity
The ability to generalize from one set of research findings to other situations.

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F ratio
A measure used with the analysis of variance to determine if a relationship is statistically significant.

 
field research
Experimental designs applied in a natural setting. The observation takes place in a natural setting.

 
finite population
The aggregate of all cases that conform to some designated set of specifications where the number of cases is known. The population of the U.S. Congress, which is 535 members, is an example of a finite population.

 
frequency distribution
A tabulation of raw data according to numerical values and discrete classes. A frequency distribution of party identification, for example, shows the number of individuals belonging to a particular party.

 
frequency polygon
A graph resulting from the connection of the midpoints of the top of each bar of a histogram with a solid line.

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gamma
A coefficient of association indicating the magnitude and direction of the relationship between ordinal variables.

 
government
The set of individuals and political institutions that has, or makes the claim to have, the de jure authority to make the rules that resolve conflict.

 
Guttman scale
A multi-item measure in which respondents are presented with increasingly difficult measures of approval for an attitude. Guttman scales are unidimensional and cumulative.

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hierarchy
An administrative organizational system in a bureaucracy based on the principle of interlocking responsibility and control that integrates all personnel.

 
histogram
The type of bar graph that is used to depict continuous metric-level measures.

 
history
Change in a dependent variable due to changes in environment over time. History is considered a threat to internal validity.

 
hypothesis
A statement proposing an expected relationship between two or more variables.

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incomplete frame
A sample frame that does not include all elements of the population.

 
incrementalism
A major approach to problem solving that suggests a conservative and practical view to administrators in order for them to meet new challenges slowly and progressively.

 
independent variable
The phenomenon thought to influence, affect, or cause some other phenomenon.

 
index
A multi-item measure in which individual scores on a set of items are combined to form a summary measure.

 
individual data
Data that describes a single unit of analysis. Data, for example, that describes a single student or a member of Congress.

 
induction
The acquisition of scientific knowledge where observation precedes theory. A theory is developed based on repeated observations.

 
inferential statistics
Statistics that enable the researcher to make decisions (inferences) about characteristics of a population based on observations from a random probability sample taken from the population.

 
infinite population
The aggregate of all cases that conform to some designated set of specifications where the number of cases is unknown.

 
influence
The use of political resources to affect the actions, or predispositions to act, of others.

 
input functions
The process where the wants and desires of the relevant public get placed on the policy agenda.

 
instrumentation
A process that designates changes in the measuring instrument between the pretest and the posttest.

 
internal validity
The ability to show that manipulation or variation of the independent variable causes the dependent variable to change.

 
international organizations
Organizations made up of two or more sovereign states. They usually meet regularly and have a permanent staff.

 
international relations
The interactions, rules, and processes that exist between sovereign states and other international actors.

 
international system
Any collection of independent political entities that interact with considerable frequency and according to regularized processes.

 
interval measurement
A measure for which a one-unit difference in scores is the same throughout the range of the measure. Interval measures do not have an absolute zero point. In other words, zero does not indicate a complete absence of the concept that was measured (Fahrenheit thermometer).

 
intervening variable
A variable that occurs in time between an independent and dependent variable in an explanatory scheme.

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journals
Records of events, meetings, visits, and other activities of an individual(s) or group over a given period of time.

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lambda
A measure of association between two nominal-level variables or between an ordinal-level variable and a nominal-level variable.

 
level of confidence
The probability that the sample results are outside the specified margin of error. Often depicted as p = <.01 or p=<.05.

 
level of statistical significance
The probability that a relationship could have occurred by chance. It is also the probability of rejecting a true null hypothesis or making a Type I error. Most researchers are willing to accept a 5 percent chance that a relationship could have occurred by chance.

 
levels of measurement
The extent to which typical numbers describe characteristics of a variable. We distinguish nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio levels. You can use a greater number of statistics and statistical methods with the higher levels of measurement.

 
liberty
The principle that the people are the ultimate source of governing authority and that each individual should have as much freedom as possible.

 
Likert scale
A multi-item measure in which the items are selected based on their ability to discriminate between those scoring high and those scoring low on the measure. They are not, however, cumulative scales.

 
limited government
A government that is subject to strict limits on its lawful uses of powers, and thus on its ability to deprive the citizen of liberty.

 
line positions
Employee positions within a bureaucratic organization that are a part of the chain of command.

 
linear relationship
A relationship between two variables that, when displayed on a graph, forms a straight line.

 
linkage institutions
Institutions such as the media, interest groups, and political parties that communicate the demands of the citizen (public opinion) to those who can act on them.

 
literature review
A part of the research process whereby researchers examine existing publications to familiarize themselves with the topic and the ways others have examined the topic.

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main diagonal
The diagonal (AD) in a bivariate cross-tabulation where most of the units of analysis (cases) could lie. The higher the proportion of cases that lie on the diagonal, the stronger the relationship in a positive direction.

 
majoritarian model
The classical theory of democracy in which government by the people is interpreted as government by the majority of the people.

 
Management By Objectives (MBO)
A process whereby organizational goals and objectives are set through the participation of organizational members in terms of expected results. Analytical budgeting advocates proposed it as an alternative to the typical line-item, incremental approach to public budgeting.

 
manipulation
A procedure that allows the researcher in experimental settings to have some control over the introduction of an independent variable. It satisfies the time order criterion of causality.

 
matching
A control method that involves making the experimental and control groups equal in accordance with extrinsic factors that are presumed to relate to the research question (race or age, for example).

 
maturation
Change in subjects over time that affects the dependent variable and possibly the validity of the study.

 
mean
The sum of the values of a variable divided by the number of values.

 
mean deviation
A measure of dispersion of data points for metric-level data. It is the mean of differences between each value in a disribution and the mean of the distribution.

 
measurement
The use of a tool to assign numbers to some phenomenon that we want to analyze and compare with existing criteria.

 
measures of association
Statistics that summarize the relationship between two variables.

 
measures of central tendency
Numbers that represent the principal value of a distribution of data. We commonly refer to these measures as averages. Measures of central tendency include the mode, the median, and the mean.

 
median
The category or value above and below which one-half of the observations lie. (The median is the middle category or value.)

 
metric measurement
The level of measurement that includes interval- and ratio-level variables. It allows for use of the most precise measuring instruments.

 
mixed scanning
An approach to decision making that attempts to integrate the incremental and the rational comprehensive models. It involves the collection and evaluation of general data on a broad range of topics and detailed analysis of particular issues.

 
mode
The category of a variable with the greatest frequency of observations.

 
multi-stage cluster samples
Probability samples used to select sample units from several larger groupings through two or more stages until you have a sample of people to interview.

 
multinational corporation
Business corporation with headquarters in one nation-state that owns and operates subsidiaries in other nation-states.

 
multiple causation
An instance when a dependent variable is affected by two or more independent variables.

 
multiple regression
A technique for measuring the mathematical relationships between more than one independent variable and a dependent variable, while controlling for the effect of all other independent variables in the equation.

 
multivariate analysis
Data analysis techniques designed to test hypotheses involving more than two variables.

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nation-state
Self-ruling political entity established first with the Treaty of Westphalia. They are states whose residents consider themselves a nation.

 
national prestige
The way others perceive a nation-state. It is, many times, associated with military and/or economic power.

 
national security
Protection against military threats on a nation. There are two types of security: territorial security and political independence.

 
negative relationship
A relationship in which the values of one variable increase (or decrease) as the values of another variable decrease (or increase).

 
negatively skewed
A distribution of values in which more observations lie to the left of the middle value.

 
nominal definition
The dictionary definition of a concept. It is also referred to as a conceptual definition.

 
nominal measurement
A measure for which different scores represent different, but not ordered, categories.

 
nonexperimental design
A type of research design that is characterized by the presence of a single group. The design may also lack control by the researcher over the assignment of subjects to a control group or an experimental group.

 
nongovernmental organizations
Organizations that are not associated with governments. They play a subsidiary role in the international arena. The American Red Cross is an example of such an organization.

 
nonnormative knowledge
A type of knowledge that is "value free" and, as such, is not concerned with evaluation or prescription. Instead it is concerned with factual or objective determinations.

 
nonprobability sample
A sample that is not drawn randomly. It is a sample for which each unit in the population has an unknown probability of being selected.

 
normal distribution curve
A frequency curve showing a symmetrical, bell-shaped distribution in which the mean, mode, and median coincide and in which a fixed proportion of observations lies between the mean and any distance from the mean measured in terms of the standard deviation.

 
normative knowledge
An evaluative, value-laden type of knowledge that is concerned with prescribing "what ought to be."

 
null hypothesis
A hypothesis that proposes no relationship between two variables. It is the hypothesis that is actually tested in statistical manipulations.

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off diagonal
The diagonal (BC) in a bivariate cross-tabulation where most of the units of analysis (cases) could lie. The higher the proportion of cases that lie on the diagonal, the stronger the relationship in a negative direction.

 
operational definitions
The rules by which a concept is measured and scores are assigned.

 
order
The rule of law and custom or the observance of prescribed procedure.

 
ordinal measurement
A measure for which the scores represent ordered categories (e.g., from the "strongest" to the "weakest") that are not necessarily equally distant from each other.

 
output functions
Refers to the different products of government actions. Examples include public policy, judicial decisions, and executive actions.

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parameters
Specified values of the population, not a sample, such as the mean or standard deviation.

 
partial correlation
A mathematical adjustment in the relationship between two variables, designed to control for the effect of a third variable.

 
partial slopes
Coefficients generated by the multiple regression routine. They represent the amount of change in the dependent variable associated with each independent variable, holding all other independent variables constant.

 
partial tables
Cross-tabulation tables measuring the extent of association between two nominal, two ordinal, or one nominal and one ordinal measured variables while controlling for the effects of another variable.

 
participatory democracy
The Jeffersonian and Jacksonian notions of democracy where the government should be open to most of the people. This includes participation as voters and candidates, as well as service as elected and appointed officials.

 
Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient
The statistic computed from a regression analysis that indicates the strength and direction of the relationship between two metric-level variables.

 
perfect relationship
A relationship that exists when two variables are paired in such a way that the absolute value of one variable can be perfectly predicted by knowing the absolute value of another variable.

 
phi coefficient
A measure of association that is used if at least one of the variables in a particular contingency table is nominal and both variables are dichotomous (2 by 2 tables).

 
pie graph
A type of graphic display of a frequency distribution. Each "slice" of pie represents a category of the variable. The larger the slice of pie in the graph, the more cases for the particular category.

 
Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System (PPBS)
An analytical budgeting method that quantifies goals, programs, and projects. Analytical budgeting advocates proposed it as an alternative to the typical line-item, incremental approach to public budgeting.

 
pluralist model
An interpretation of democracy in which government by the people is taken to mean government by people operating through competing interest groups.

 
policy adoption
The stage of the policymaking process during which proposals are accepted by the decision-making body.

 
policy agenda
The list of activities that public decision makers pay attention to at any given time. Individuals use it to bring new issues into the political limelight.

 
policy analysis
The evaluation of public policy to determine whether it is meeting the goals of the decision makers. Today, more and more policy analysts use surveys and empirical methods to evaluate policy.

 
policy evaluation
The analysis of public policy.

 
policy formulation
The stage of the policymaking process during which formal proposals are developed and adopted.

 
policy implementation
The function of the public bureaucracy. It refers to the process of carrying out the authoritative decisions of Congress, the president, and the courts. It is also applicable to the subnational levels of government.

 
policy implications
The predicted effect that the findings of policy evaluation and analysis will have on public policy.

 
policy termination
The stage of the policymaking process whereby public policy is discontinued when it has attained the goals of the policy.

 
policy-triggering devices
Events or activities that generate the demand for public policy.

 
political decay
The gradual deterioration and downfall of a political system.

 
political development
The way political systems evolve over time. It includes the process of coping with crises that all nations experience.

 
political resource
Any attribute(s) that an individual, group, or nation can use to influence others.

 
political science
The application of the methods of acquiring scientific knowledge to the study of political phenomena.

 
political system
A set of interrelated institutions that link people with government. A political system is any persistent pattern of human relationships that involves, to a significant extent, control, influence, power, or authority.

 
politics
The process that, according to Harold Lasswell, determines who gets what, when, and how from the political system.

 
population
All of the cases or observations covered by a hypothesis; all the units of analysis to which a hypothesis applies.

 
position classification
The clustering of government jobs according to their nature, required qualifications, duties performed, and assumed responsibilities.

 
positive relationship
A relationship in which the values of one variable increase (or decrease) as the values of another variable increase (or decrease). A positive relationship is often referred to as a direct relationship.

 
positively skewed
A distribution of values in which more observations lie to the right of the middle value.

 
post-behavioralism
A way to study politics that not only focuses on political behavior by using the scientific method, but also allows researchers to use their values when presenting policy implications. It could also involve the use of advanced mathematical techniques such as calculus to analyze behavior.

 
posttest
The measurement of a dependent variable after manipulation of an independent variable.

 
power
The capacity to use political resources to influence the actions, or predispositions to act, of others.

 
predictive validity
The effectiveness of the measuring instrument to forecast a specified outcome. The effectiveness, for example, of a civil service exam to accurately forecast job performance.

 
pretest
The measurement of a dependent variable prior to the administration of treatment or manipulation of an independent variable.

 
primary data
Data that is collected by the researcher versus by someone else (secondary data), through observations or surveys.

 
probability sample
A sample for which each element in the total population has a known and equal probability of being selected.

 
problem recognition
The first step in a research process involving the identification of a phenomenon worthy of study. It is also applicable to the first step in the policymaking process whereby an item is ascertained as requiring the attention of public policy makers.

 
problem statement
A succinct statement of the phenomenon that is being analyzed.

 
Progressive movement
A movement in American politics that had an important influence on the development of American public administration. The primary goals of the Progressives were to make government more efficient and businesslike by making public agencies and functions more professional.

 
proportionate reduction of error (PRE)
An analytical method that measures the magnitude of the relationship between two variables where one is used to predict the values of the other.

 
public administration
The process by which the government delivers common goods and services to members of a community, be it at the national, state, or local level of government.

 
public opinion
The collection of individual attitudes shared by some portion of adults that government finds prudent to heed.

 
public policy
A term that refers to actions taken by government in response to issues on the policy agenda. The action may be broad-based, such as opposing world terrorism, or it can be a specific government program or initiative, such as tax reductions or a public housing policy.

 
purposive sample
A nonprobability sample in which a researcher uses discretion in selecting elements for observation.

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quota sample
A nonprobability sample in which elements are sampled in proportion to their representation in the population.

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random error term
A component of the multiple regression model (e). With the inclusion of the random error term in the model there is an allowance for error in the predictive capabilities of the model.

 
random-digit dialing
A procedure used to improve the effectiveness of telephone samples by giving listed and unlisted numbers a chance of being selected for a sample. The procedure is used to make the sample more representative of the population.

 
range
The distance between the highest and lowest values or the extent of categories into which observations fall.

 
ratio measurement
A measure for which the scores possess the full mathematical properties of the assigned numbers. Ratio measures have an absolute zero point. Zero means a complete absence of the concept that was measured.

 
rational decision making
A systems analysis approach based on principles of scientific investigation and scientific problem solving. It involves value clarification, means-ends analysis, choosing the most appropriate means to achieve desired ends, comprehensive analysis, and analysis that is based on theory.

 
redistributive policy
A policy requirement whereby the government reallocates the wealth from one group in society to another group. It involves the direct provision of benefits to citizens through social programs such as welfare.

 
regression analysis
A technique for measuring the relationship between metric-level variables.

 
regression artifact
A problem that occurs when individuals have been assigned to the experimental group based on their extreme scores on the dependent variable. When this phenomenon occurs, and measures are unreliable, individuals who scored below average on the pretest will appear to have improved upon retesting. The opposite may also occur.

 
regression coefficient
Another name for the slope of a regression equation.

 
regression equation
The mathematical formula describing the relationship between two metric variables (y = a + bx).

 
regulatory policy
Policy designed to maintain order and prohibit behaviors that endanger society. Examples include attempts to control criminal activities and to protect economic activities and business markets.

 
reliability
The degree to which measures yield the same results when applied by different researchers to the same units under the same circumstances (the consistency of a measurement tool).

 
replication
A term used to describe the results of statistical controlling when they duplicate the original relationship between two variables.

 
reproducibility
The extent to which you can replicate the total response pattern on a set of scaled items by knowing only the total score.

 
research design
A plan that specifies how the researcher intends to fulfill the goals of the study. It is a logical plan for testing hypotheses.

 
residual
In a regression analysis, it is the error remaining in the prediction of a dependent variable value from an independent variable(s) value(s).

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sample
A subset of all the observations or cases covered by a hypothesis. It is a portion of a population.

 
sample frame
A list of all the units of a population that a researcher uses in order to select units to sample.

 
sampling error
The extent to which sample values differ from the values that would be obtained from the population. Collectively, sampling error consists of the confidence level and the margin of error.

 
sampling unit
The entity listed in a sample frame. It may be the same as an element, or it may be a group, or cluster, of elements.

 
satisfice
The process of finding a decision alternative that meets the decision maker's minimum standard of satisfaction. James G. March and Herbert A. Simon coined the term.

 
scales
Combined measures used to operationalize abstract concepts such as racial prejudice, which cannot be adequately measured by a single indicator.

 
scatter plot
A technique used to graphically display the relationship between two metric-level variables. The plot is sometimes referred to as a scatter gram.

 
scientific knowledge
Knowledge that is obtained through verification, rigorous reasoning, and empirical observation.

 
secondary data
Data collected by someone other than the researcher. Public records data such as the United States Census are examples of secondary data.

 
self-selection sample
A type of sample where people basically decide for themselves whether they are going to be a part of the sample or poll. This type of sample is also referred to as selective listener opinion poll, or "SLOP" poll.

 
simple random sample
A simple random sample is one in which each element of the population has an equal chance of being a part of the sample. In addition, you know the probability of selection and inclusion in the sample.

 
skewed distribution
A data distribution in which more observations fall to one side of the mean than the other. Thus, the mean is "pulled" toward the extreme low (negative skew) or extreme high (positive skew).

 
slope
The part of a regression equation that shows how much change in the value of Y (the dependent variable) corresponds to a one-unit change in the value of X (the independent variable).

 
Sommer's D
A measure of association that allows for the analysis of asymmetric relationships between two ordinal-level variables.

 
split-half method
Calculating reliability by comparing the results of two equivalent measures made at the same time.

 
spurious relationship
A relationship between two variables that is caused entirely by the impact of an antecedent variable.

 
staff positions
Employee positions within a bureaucratic organization that are not a part of the chain of command. They are usually advisory positions to the head of the organization (auditors).

 
standard deviation
The most common measure of dispersion of data points for metric-level data. It is the square root of the variance.

 
standard normal distribution
A normal distribution having a mean of 0 and a standard deviation and variance of 1.

 
standard score
An individual observation that belongs to a distribution with a mean of 0 and a standard deviation of 1. See also Z score.

 
statistical significance
An indication of whether an observed relationship in a sample could have occurred by chance.

 
statistics
The values of a property obtained from a sample versus parameters taken from the population. Researchers use statistics to estimate a population characteristic or attribute.

 
stratified sample
A probability sample in which elements sharing one or more characteristics are grouped. Elements are then selected from each group in proportion to the group's representation in the total population.

 
structural-functionalism
An approach that seeks to compare political systems by identifying the essential system function and describing and explaining which structures perform them.

 
symmetrical statistic
A measure of association that requires you to identify a dependent variable and an independent variable. The phi coefficient is an example.

 
systematic sample
A probability sample in which elements are selected from a list at predetermined intervals.

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t-test
A test researchers use to test a hypothesis. The procedure makes use of the t-statistic and the t-distribution to determine whether to reject or accept the hypothesis.

 
tau statistic
A bivariate statistic that is used with ordinal-level data. It is used as a symmetrical (nondirectional) statistic.

 
test group
A group of research subjects who receive the treatment or test stimulus. See also experimental group.

 
test-retest method
A method to calculate reliability by repeating the same measure at two or more points in time.

 
testing
A threat to the internal validity of a research study. The effect occurs when the pretest of a study impacts the study.

 
theoretical implications
The predicted effect that research findings will have on the theory being used to guide the research effort.

 
theory
An integrated set of plans intended to explain or account for a given phenomenon.

 
threats to measurement reliability
Possible occurrences that could detract from the reliability of a measure. History and regression artifacts are examples.

 
time series design
Multiple measurements of a dependent variable before and/or after experimental treatment.

 
topic evaluation
The process whereby a researcher analyzes a topic for research. According to Richard Cole, it involves ensuring (1) the topic is of interest, (2) the topic is manageable, and (3) the topic does not broach the ethical considerations associated with research.

 
triangulation
The use of several observers, data collection techniques, or sources of data in an effort to enhance the reliability and validity of a research effort.

 
Type I prediction error
This type of prediction error occurs when someone rejects a true null hypothesis.

 
Type II prediction error
This type of prediction error occurs when someone accepts a false null hypothesis.

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units of analysis
The type of element (individual, group, institution, state, nation) that is specified in a researcher's hypothesis.

 
univariate analysis
The analysis of a single variable. Researchers often use frequency tables, bar graphs, or pie charts to complete such an analysis.

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validity
The effectiveness of the measuring instrument and the extent that the instrument reflects the actual activity or behavior one wants to study.

 
variability
The heterogeneity of a sample of population. Researchers also use the term to describe variation in the range of values of a variable.

 
variable
A measured concept.

 
variance
Another measure of dispersion of data points about the mean for metric-level data. It is a measure of how spread out a distribution is.

 
variation ratio
The variation ratio tells the political scientist the degree to which the mode satisfactorily represents a particular frequency distribution.

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war
The use of armed conflict as a way that nation-states play politics to achieve their goals.

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Y intercept
The point at which a regression line crosses the axis representing the dependent variable (Y). It is the predicted value of the dependent variable in a regression equation when the actual value of the independent variable is 0.
 

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Z score
The number of standard deviations that a score deviates from the mean in a standardized normal distribution. See also standard score.

 
Zero-Based Budgeting (ZBB)
A system of budgeting that requires all spending for a program or an agency to be justified anew each year. Analytical budgeting advocates proposed it as an alternative to the typical line-item, incremental approach to public budgeting.

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