Research Paper Guidelines
What is a Research Paper?
A research paper is much like the papers that students often write as part of their coursework in disciplines such as Political Science, History, or International Relations. Students choose a topic, work with their adviser to refine the topic and develop an argument, and then compose a compelling analysis of the issue. In general, students should avoid a purely historical paper and aim for a topic which has clear relevance to the current day.
Research papers should concentrate on analysis rather than policy prescriptions. The goal of the paper should be a rigorous examination of the causes and effects of important international events, trends, and/or policies.
Examples of Research Issues
The following are examples of topics of recent research papers done by some of our graduates. These examples should help students to understand the range of possible topics that can be investigated in a research paper. Students are, of course, in no way limited to the following examples – they are provided simply to help students in developing their own topics.
- Effects of Trade Liberalization on the Pollution Intensity of the Manufacturing Sector in Latin America
- A Comparative Study of the 1925 Iraqi Constitution and the 2004 Interim Iraqi Constitution
- The Transformation of UN Peacekeeping in the Post-bipolar Era
- An Analysis of Energy Policy in India from the 1970′s to the Present Day
- Internet Control in China
- Changing Internal Factors and Russian Foreign Policy
- Human Rights and Religion Under the United Nations
- Democratization in Africa
- Changes in the U.S. – Japan Security Alliance from 1994 to the Present
Format for the Research Paper
For the most part, the structure of the research paper is up to students and their advisers. There are, however, a few firm format requirements, as follows.
- The paper should be 60-65 pages in length. See the General Guidelines section for more information on page lengths.
- Follow all of the general guidelines on formatting given on the General Guidelines page. Pay attention to the details of what information should appear on the title page.
- Include an abstract prior to the body of your paper. Students should talk with their advisers about how to write an abstract.
- Be certain to provide complete documentation of the sources of all facts and analysis.
Although not firm guidelines, the following recommendations will help in researching and writing the paper.
- Start the paper with a review of existing analyses. This is often called a literature review in academic papers, but it is relevant to policy-oriented research papers and presentations as well. The purpose is to show the various ways in which other people have already approached the problem
- Consider alternative hypotheses. Without considering counter-arguments, it is impossible to say that this synthesis is the best. Having the literature review at the beginning makes this easier, because the paper can regularly compare its interpretation against existing ones, whether implicitly or explicitly.
Example of a Research Paper and a Proposal
Proposals can be found at the end of the papers.