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AP Research Project - Investigating Government Shutdowns

I am currently taking AP Research in school and we are tasked to carry out a year-long, self-directed research project. The question I plan to answer with my project is: What are common causes of government shutdowns before and after 2000?

There have been a significant increase in the amount of government shutdowns in recent decades. Our country has had four government shutdowns that lasted more than one day since the year 2000. This is the same number of shutdowns that have occurred from the origin of our country to 2000. It was intriguing to me that the frequency of government shutdowns has increased so dramatically. Government shutdowns can have many negative affects such as public inconveniences, loss of public confidence, and reduction in GDP growth. It is important to understand what factors are correlated with greater risk of government shutdown so legislators can take action to prevent shutdowns in the future.

Because of this topic is sparsely researched and especially relevant to current times (as seen with the multiple near shutdowns this past year), I plan on collecting information, analyzing data, and drawing conclusions to answer my research question: What are common causes of government shutdowns before and after 2000? To do this, I plan on using the content analysis research method using a computational model to parse through various formats of media including articles, transcripts of debates within Congress, transcripts of news reports regarding the shutdown, and general events that led up to the shutdown. The content analysis research methodology would make a logical choice in discovering the causation of government shutdowns as it will provide a qualitative approach to my topic. I also plan on collecting a wide range of data for the model to prevent bias. After parsing through these large amounts of data, my computational model will output patterns which I could analyze.

I hope my research project will be able to inform government officials about the common trends and causes of government shutdowns so that they can better prevent occurrences of future government shutdowns. Data-driven policymaking can be greatly beneficial in approaching issues with an objective rather than subjective approach, so I hope that my research project can mitigate the occurrences of future government shutdowns through this approach.


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