Exercise 1: Elaboration of a research design
First, think of a ‘hot topic’ in contemporary world politics that you think deserves the attention of International Relations scholars and researchers. Chose a topic that you are interested in. It could also be for example the topic that motivated you to pursue a master’s degree in Diplomacy and International Affairs, or perhaps the topic you would like to focus on in your master’s thesis.
When you have identified your topic, please try to narrow it down by formulating one or two concrete research questions.
Then, elaborate a research design by answering the following questions:
1. The question / relevance
– What do you want to know? What is the key problem / question / issue / puzzle that you wish to address in your research?
– Why do you think it is worth knowing about this issue / doing this research? What is the rationale for conducting research on this topic?
2. Relevance and contextualization in the literature
– How would you proceed to research, identify and analyze the existing research on your topic in order to conduct a relevant literature review?
As we have studied in the course, a literature review is essential in order to know where your research project fits within what is already known about a topic, and to identify the contributions that your research will make. Since this is a methods class, you are NOT required to make a literature review here. Instead, please explain briefly how you would undertake such a task. For example, how and where would you search for the relevant literature? How would you identify the core works relevant to your topic or the most relevant authors?
3. Theoretical framework, sources of data, hypotheses
– What are the guiding (theoretical) assumptions of the study?
Remember the main theories / paradigms of the IR discipline.
– What is your position in the empirical-interpretive spectrum, and why?
– What are the variables or factors that must be analyzed in order to answer your main question(s)?
– Try to formulate one or two working hypotheses.* How did you come up with your hypothesis/es? Can you identify something in your theoretical approach that brought you to expect the relationship between variables / factors that you anticipate?
*Attention: the sequence between hypothesis formulation and data collection and analysis differs depending on whether your research follows a deductive or an inductive approach. If you follow an inductive approach, it will not be possible to formulate hypotheses before the collection and analysis of data. If that is your case, briefly explain why.
– Data and sources: What data do you think could be used to demonstrate the relationship between the variables that you hypothesized? How would you be able to obtain such data? Can you generate them yourself? If so, which data collection technique would you use to gather the data? And how would you go about analyzing the data? Would you choose a qualitative, a quantitative, or a mixed-methods approach?
This exercise has to be presented in writing via the continuous evaluation registry via the virtual classroom. The maximum extension is three (3) pages in Arial / Times New Roman, font 12 points, 1.5 spaces.
IMPORTANT: Please select a case within the scope of this master. Do not choose a topic in a discipline beyond the scope of this program (e.g., medical science, chemistry, etc.). Focus on the development of your methodology, which is the objective of this exercise – the majority of the exercise should not consist of an extensive literature review or background explanations.
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