Research Paper Guidelines
Choosing a topic and cases
Here are some selection criteria to consider:
Relevance: Try to choose a topic with significance for the particular course in which you are enrolled (Comparative Political Economy, Democratization in World Politics, International Law, etc.) as well as for international studies more broadly. Interest: you will be committing significant time and energy to this project all semester, so choose wisely!
Feasibility/Availability of resources: select a theme and country that are likely to be examined in scholarly works and covered in international news sources. •
Formulating a research question
The purpose of most research papers is to pose (and answer) a research question of importance. Suppose your broad area of interest is comparative political economy and that you would like to examine neoliberal economic reforms within developing countries. This topic can yield a number of research questions: What explains the implementation of neoliberal economic reforms (or the timing or pace of such reforms)? What are the effects of reform packages on electoral support for political parties or candidates?
Sometimes observed variation across cases gives rise to a question: Why have some countries in Latin America passed freedom of information laws, while others have not? Be sure that your question is researchable (i.e., that you can answer it by collecting and analyzing data).
Try to choose a question that matters: Who cares about the answer to your question? Why is it important, relevant, and interesting?
Collecting information and data
You will need to consult a variety of high-quality sources, including (but not limited to) the following:
Scholarly works: To write a solid research paper, you must consult academic sources, including articles and books. If you are uncertain as to which journals are relevant to your area of inquiry, ask your professor. The most efficient strategy for locating...
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