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Research Papers on Public Administration Problems in California

Research papers on public administration problems in a state or municipality are common for political science majors that are focusing their studies on a career in public policy. Below is an example of how to outline a topic on any public administration problem. Paper Masters uses the example of the state of California but you can use any city, state or municipality you wish.

How to set up a Research Paper on a Public Administration Problem
(Using California as an example)

Characterization of the Problem

  1. Describe the problem and its political and societal implications
  2. Statistical analysis of the problem - Identify key trends in the worsening of the problem
  3. Scope and magnitude of the problem -
    1. Is the problem localized within CA or does it affect the entire state?
    2. Is it continuous?
    3. Does it impose major costs?
    4. Do some groups bear more costs than others?
  4. Expectations for the futurePublic Problems in California
  5. Characterize the problem as "tame" or "wicked" why?

Problem Definition

  1. Agenda setting
  2. Issues cycles and framing
  3. Prepare timeline of major event related to the problem 3 major newspaper (San Fransisco Chronicle, LA Times, Sacramento Bee)
    1. In general identify whether the print media has been putting the issue on the political agenda
    2. Develop a content analysis of the key frames used by the media to interpret and explain the problem
  4. Legislative, political and Administrative history of the problem
    1. Identify key legislations related and time periods of more or less legislative attention to the problem
    2. Identify the extent to which governors other politicians and political parties have made the issue major focus
    3. Identify key administrative agencies responsible for the problem and describe the scope and extent of their environment


  1. Identify positions of major stake holders and analyze their attempts to frame the problem
  2. Identify advocacy coalitions around the issue and describe the stability of these coalitions over time
  3. Identify foundations or research institutes focused on the problem

Public Opinion

  1. Find survey data related to the public attitudes toward the problem. id trends over time in public attitudes
  2. Identify info that indicates the publics level of awareness of the problem
  3. Scientific or policy debates about the problem
    1. Identify key policy studies (like RAND, or Public policy institute of CA)
    2. Analyze how the problem has been framed, the extent to which the issue has been put on or off the political agenda and by whom and the shifting intensity of interest and conflict over the issue over time.

Summarizes the public problems in California.

This is a sample political science topic for a public policy course focus on framing problems and solving complex social public problems. You may want to focus your policy more specifically than the above outline. You could look specifically at public schools and public school policy in California. Some ideas on that topic are listed here:

  • Key challenges that confront the state in that area:
    • Is the media doing a sufficient job of covering these problems?
    • Drawing on your analysis of specific related to your topic discuss variation in how issues are being covered?
    • How are they being framed?
    • In the character of issue cycles and whether or not the media is setting on the agenda?
  • What are the costs?
    • Who is paying for the costs?
    • Who benefits?
    • How will this play out in the future?
    • Create a timeline of major events
  • Alternative media that’s shaping the public
    • blogs
    • search legislative bills using search terms same ones used for media
    • what the administration agencies are saying about the particular issues
    • studies, certain jurisdictions
    • what the scope, responsibility, interpretation of the problem from the public agencies
    • same thing with stake holders

  • How is your problem framed?
    • Is it on the agenda?
    • Are people playing attention to it
    • Has it been through cycles (it was on the agenda earlier but now no or vice versa à issues cycles)

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