A Political Scientist is someone who studies government, political processes and political issues in a scientific way,
often within the context of an academic institution. This field of study encompasses many things besides the formal
institutions of government. Formal laws are indeed studied, but so are things like public opinion, parties and
economics. Political scientists study and analyse the ways in which governments and political systems are organized,
and the relationship between government, society and the economy. They seek to resolve political problems through
practical and theoretical means by offering advice to and commentary on the way in which governments operate.
They research elections, laws, political groups, write reports on their findings, contribute to media discussion on
politics, liaise with international government organisations, and provide advice to governments, politicians, nongovernment
organisations (NGOs), and other groups and individuals with an interest and stake in the political system.
The field is diverse and includes many different subfields. Some political scientists specialize in the study of a single
country's unique institutions, such as in the study of Indian government.
In an academic setting, the process often starts with curiosity about some observed fact. The political scientist asks
intelligent and answerable questions, and then the process of gathering data or doing research begins. If the questions
are more philosophical or historical, research might involve reading texts, either classic works by thinkers like Plato or
more contemporary historical works. On the other hand, if the questions concern more practical matters like
government economic policy, the researcher might spend time looking at statistics on recent budget deficits or the
rate of inflation. The results of research are often published in academic journals or in book form.
Besides pursuing academic knowledge for its own sake, political scientists also engage in four other broad areas of
activity: advice, commentary, government employment and direct political action. Political advice involves providing
policy analysis and consultation to governments and corporations. Political commentary involves expressing opinions
on the important issues of the day through various media, such as newspapers, television, radio, and blogs.
Government employment means working for some public entity or agency, whether at the national, state or local
level. Finally, direct action could mean being an actor in the political process itself, either through holding an elected
office or engaging in lobbying activity on behalf of a company or a cause.
Political Scientists work mostly in the offices of government departments, private research institutions, universities or
non-profit organisations. They usually work regular business hours, but may be expected to work longer hours to
ensure deadlines are met. Political scientists may be expected to travel to attend conferences or to research political
systems or situations taking place interstate or internationally. Political scientists usually require direct access to those
involved in the political system, such as parliamentarians, as well as to the media.
Entry Level Education
- Bachelor's Degree for some entry-level positions.
- Master's or Doctoral Degree related to Political Science.