Specific Instructions for the Research Proposal


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Specific Instructions for the Research Proposal:

The purpose of this assignment is to derive a specific research focus and create a plan for carrying out your research. Please prepare a document that addresses each of the points below. Label each section and comprehensively address the points within each section. This assignment should be 2-3 pages in length.

(1) IO Selection and Research Question: Select an international organization to focus on and do some initial research to identify a problem with this IO. For example, is its effectiveness debatable? Does it suffer from accountability or legitimacy issues in its institutional design or decision-making processes? Is it unable to achieve its goals? Dominated by a few powerful member states? Unsuccessful in socializing certain member states? Unable to influence the behavior of states? Experiencing internal power struggles? Struggling for external support? Identify the problem and develop a specific research question to explore.

(2) Dependent Variable Identification, Definition, and Measurement: Take your research question and use it to identify your dependent variable (the outcome you are trying to explain). Example: Why is the UN not more effective at preventing conflict? Based on this research question, the outcome you are trying to explain is effectiveness at conflict prevention; therefore, that is your dependent variable. Next, explain how you will define your dependent variable and what criteria you will use to measure it. (Based on the example above, “effectiveness” would need to be defined, and you’d need to come up with some specific criteria for how to measure effectiveness.)

(3) Independent variable: An independent variable is a factor that influences the dependent variable. For example, if effectiveness is the dependent variable, it might be affected by the strength of cooperation among states in the IO. Identify at least one independent variable that you believe influences the dependent variable you identified above, and explain why.

(4) Hypothesis: A hypothesis is a prediction that puts forth a relationship between at least two variables. For example: stronger cooperation between states will increase effectiveness. In this example, you are proposing that variable A (the independent variable) increases variable B (the dependent variable). Using your dependent and independent variables, propose a preliminary hypothesis that you plan to investigate in the research paper. Make sure that your hypothesis is specific and can be tested in the analysis section of your research paper. Note: the goal is NOT to prove that your hypothesis is right; rather, it is to investigate the hypothesis to see how much support it has (or lacks). It’s OK if you don’t find strong support for your hypothesis. In that case, you’d use the Conclusion section of your research paper to explain why and to suggest avenues for future research.

(5) Research Method and Proposed Data Sources: Identify a research method that will allow you to test your hypothesis (examples: case study; comparative case study; content analysis in which you look for themes in documents/websites; statistical analysis to include percentages, correlations, or regression analysis). Explain the research method you will use and what it will entail.

Now that you have a research method, what quantitative or qualitative data will you use to investigate your hypothesis? If you are interested in using quantitative data, there are many publicly available datasets available from the World Bank, V-Dem, the CIA World Factbook, Transparency International, the World Values Survey, etc. Quantitative data can be used, for example, to establish trends or changes over time, to compare member states of an IO on certain indicators, etc.

Qualitative methods include case studies and comparative case studies in which you go into a great deal of depth (as opposed to the breadth of quantitative research). Qualitative studies also rely on data – data of a qualitative nature. Qualitative information can be collected from previous case studies, from collecting information from the websites of the IO and its member states, etc. Please name specific qualitative data sources that you will evaluate in your analysis. A common way of conducting qualitative research is to do a content analysis in which you look for specific words or phrases in texts such as websites or past case studies.

IMPORTANT: the data that you use in your analysis (either quantitative or qualitative) must be different from the sources that you will review in your literature review.

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