RESEARCH PAPER GUIDELINES
Your research paper should total approximately 20 pages (not counting the bibliography), incorporating the following elements:
- Introduction (2 pages)
• Introduction of your topic and any background information you judge to be important helping us to understand why the topic is of interest
• Statement of your research question, the puzzle underlying it, and your competing claims (as well as justification for these claims)
• Brief statement introducing the assumptions that ground your research and methodology
- Literature review (5 pages)
• Situate your topic in a larger theoretical frame (e.g., nation-building, theories of international trade, gendered politics, development, critical history and so forth)
• Most of the review should be devoted to a critical discussion of key scholarly works, which, together, create a dialogue among scholars important to the topic under investigation. Be sure to focus on the methodology and methods used to substantiate/weaken research claims. Choose a minimum of 5 articles to review (for one of the articles under review, you may use homework 2, with amendments based on comments received, provided the article was a scholarly article).
• Last paragraph in your lit review: a brief discussion of how your research will fill gaps in the scholarship
- Research design (4 pages)
• State your research aim: (testing theories, generating theories, exploring new “variables” or new cases, deconstructing “social fact” through genealogies – as some examples)
• Define the key concept(s) under study, using an accepted source, and explain how you will operationalize the concept(s) under study
• Provide an overview of the case(s) to be studied, and whether you will conduct a large-N, small-N, or mixed method design; include your case selection criteria
• Include your “time frame or points of time” around which you plan to concentrate your analysis and why
• Discuss how the methods you will be choosing are appropriate, given your research question and methodology
• Discuss the method(s) selected: the regression model; the within-case method (critical most-likely or least likely cases); the comparative method (Mill’s method of agreement, Mill’s method of disagreement, “before/after” analysis); narrative building
• List the primary-source data to be used and/or collected: statistical sources; interviews; surveys; archival research, discourse analysis, content analysis – or any combination thereof
• Explain what evidence would help support your claims and what evidence would weaken your claims, and why
This section should draw heavily from homework 4, with improvement
- Empirical/investigative work (7 pages)
• Statistical trends over time, or comparative statistics
• Content analysis: the frames proposed and counts generated
• Survey responses: can help to provide an overview of public opinion, over time or across countries
• If proposing a regression analysis, please explain your model and the variables you are including – comment on results obtained (per the instructions for homework 3). Include output table in appendix, but present the results in the text (using a chart, or whatever you think most appropriate). Remember that numbers do not speak for themselves: if doing a regression analysis, you must reason through the model and provide supporting evidence for your claims.
• If you are conducting a comparative case-study analysis, please specify what “variables” you are focusing on and why (per Mill’s method of agreement or Mill’s Method of difference, for example) – comment on the results found (example: if doing a comparative case study, and you want to show that the two cases have similar income levels, as one of the variables you control for, then state and source the income levels – do this for each variable under consideration). If you are doing a within-case study and you want to show a trend over time, explain why you are focusing on the variable(s) and analyze the trend(s). Is the trend relatively stable, or does it show shifts? Analyze what you see. If you are, rather, developing a narrative, explain the junctures in your narrative chosen.
• If you are applying process-tracing or other case-study analytical tools, show how the evidence is/is not helping you to explain the outcome under investigation. Who had “agency” and a stake in the outcome and what were the main issues of concern? Was there a “window of opportunity” that defined the path taken? What are the critical junctures in your narrative? Was the decision taken “inevitable”? Does a counterfactual argument help you to argue your case? If yes, use one. If serving up quotes as evidence, explain what these quotes can/cannot suggest and be sure to explore how they might be alternatively interpreted.
• If you are conducting interviews, please include your “semi-structured” questions and transcribed responses in an appendix. Then: analyze how these results help you establish evidence for/against your truth claims and how these elements “do work.”
• If you are applying some variant of discourse analysis, examine whether the discourse shifts over time or across countries under study, as well as how the “discursive elements” you are analyzing shape your arguments. Please see me if you are using this method so that I can bring you up to speed (as we don’t cover this method until the term end).
• Feel free to add graphical “flourishes” if appropriate.
(Note: the above does not exhaust all possibilities – meant to help you brainstorm, only!)
- Conclusion (2 pages)
• Summary of how your research will contribute to the field of study and policy implications, if any. Please discuss what your project cannot accomplish and where you see potential weaknesses (e.g., any possible bias in the results, data hurdles, missing components of the “narrative” for example). Explain how you might further the research had you more time (and funding ?).
- Bibliography (no fewer than 20 sources, split between primary and secondary sources)
• Include all sources to be used directly and indirectly; may include primary, as well as secondary sources; please follow one citation guideline consistently. NO Web references for secondary literature.
You may use footnotes or in-text notes: be consistent and make sure you source claims and statements that are not your own.