SIS 206.004H: Tuesdays, Fridays
Professor Jacob L. Stump
School of International Service
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20016
Office hours: 9:30-9:55 & 11:10-11:30 Tuesdays and Fridays or by appointment.
This course is an introduction to the practical activity of designing and implementing a research project in the study of international politics. Four goals take center stage:
(1). Students should be able to identify and evaluate the three leading traditions of research methodology in International Relations scholarship. The three traditions are the scientific method, interpretive, and network-relational approaches.
(2). Students should be able to design an individual research project consistent with each of the three methodological traditions.
(3). Students should be able to obtain and evaluate primary and secondary source information relevant to the execution of their research projects.
(4). Students should be able to present findings from their preliminary research projects.
Course Schedule and Readings
Note: Required articles and book chapters are available on the Online Syllabus [http://sites.google.com/site/internationalrelationsresearch/Home]. Reading assignments may change over the course of the semester; I will let you know if they do. Check the online syllabus regularly.
January 12: Introduction: Research in the Social Sciences
Questions to ask: What's this class about? What's the value of the course for me? What will I learn? What will I do for assignments? How will I be graded? What do I know already about social science research?
January 15: Asking Research Questions
Short Assignment 1: come up with a list of 3-4 potential topics for research. Topics might include: terrorism, race, human rights, education, war, genocide, etc. Then pick one of those topics and come up with 3-5 potential research questions for it. Questions might include: why do states go to war? How does race effect national elections in the USA, Canada and Britain? What is the relationship between education and human rights? Etc. Bring both lists to class.
"Using a Topic to Generate Questions," http://www.lib.washington.edu/uwill/research101/topic03.htm
"On Asking Productive Research Question," http://users.ipfw.edu/blythes/teach/quest.htm
"The Research Question," http://globetrotter.berkeley.edu/DissPropWorkshop/nuts&bolts/question.html
January 19: Using the Library 1: Locating Information
Meet in Anderson Computing Complex, Room B 13.
What's the difference between primary and secondary sources of information? How do I find information on my topic?
Take the Library’s Information Literacy Tutorial before class
January 22: Writing a Literature Review
Meet in Ward 304 for a brief lecture. We will walk to the library from there.
A literature review! What?
Jeffrey W. Knopf, “Doing a Literature Review,” PS: Political Science & Politics 39 (January 2006), pages 127-132. [Class Website]
Nancy Rivenburgh, "The Literature Review, Inside Higher Education 10 June 2009. http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/mentor/rivenburght
Learn how to properly cite sources. Read a style guide and adopt it as your own. Several are listed at: http://www.library.american.edu/subject/citation.html
The Turabian Citation Guide is often used in the social sciences: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/turabian/turabian_citationguide.html
The key point is to adopt a particular citation method (I don't care which one) and use it consistently throughout your writing assignments.
The Scientific Method:
January 26: The Scientific Method
Short Assignment 2: write a brief literature review of the sources that you located at the library last class. Refer to last class' readings for help. This paper should be 2-3 pages, double-spaced.
Questions to consider as you read: What's the scientific method? What's a hypothesis? How do I test hypotheses? What are variables? How do I measure variables? What are measurement scales?
Read one of the following three links:
Stephen Van Evera, “Hypotheses, Laws, and Theories," A User’s Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), pp 7-14, 27-30. [Class Website]
January 29: Qualitative Methods I: Comparative Case Studies
Short Assignment 3: Based on your research question, form a hypothesis and tell me how you might test it. Identify variables and tell me how you might measure them. Refer to today's readings and identify a case study method that you could use to test your hypothesis. Why would this case study method be a good choice? Justify your choice.
Questions to ask as you read: Which method do I understand the best? Which method do I understand the least?
Andrew Bennett and Colin Elman, “Case Study Methods in the International Relations Subfield,” Comparative Political Studies 40:2 (February 2007), pages 170-195. [Class Website]
John Stuart Mill, “Two Methods of Comparison,” selection from his A System of Logic (1888). Available at: http://poli.haifa.ac.il/~levi/Mill.htm
February 2: Qualitative Methods II: Cross Case Comparisons
Questions to ask as you read: What is his research question? What is his hypothesis? How did he test his hypothesis? What did he use for data? What does he mean by the extension of Westphalian sovereignty?
Turan Kayaoglu, "The Extension of Westphalian Sovereignty: State Building and the Abolition of Extraterritoriality," International Studies Quarterly 51 (2007): 649-675. [Class Website]
February 5: Qualitative Methods III: Evaluating a Causal Qualitative Argument
Questions to ask as you read: What are their research questions? What are their hypotheses? What were their variables? How did they test their hypotheses? What did they use for data? Which argument is most persuasive and why?
Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth, “Power, Globalization, and the End of the Cold War: Reevaluating a Landmark Case for Ideas,” International Security 25:3 (2000/01), pages 5-53. [Class Website]
Robert English, “Power, Ideas, and New Evidence on the Cold War’s End,” International Security 26:4 (2002), pages 70-92. [Class Website]
February 9: Quantitative Methods I: Measuring the Pacifism of Women with Surveys
Questions to consider as you read: What is their research question? What is their hypothesis? How did they test their hypothesis? What were the variables? Are women more peaceful than men?
Mark Tessler, Jodi Nachtwey and Audra Grant, “Further Tests of the Women and Peace Hypothesis: Evidence from Cross-National Survey Research in the Middle East,” International Studies Quarterly 43:3 (1999), pp 519-531. [Class Website]
Karen Sternheimer, "Thinking Like a Sociologists: Deconstructing the Polls." Everyday Sociology. http://nortonbooks.typepad.com/everydaysociology/2009/09/thinking-like-a-sociologist-deconstructing-polls.html
Christopher Cooper, H. Gibbs Knotts, and Moshe Haspel, "The Content of Political Participation: Letters to the Editor and the People Who Write Them." PS: Political Science and Politics 42 (2009): 131-137. [Class Website]
Mary Caprioli and Kimberly Lynn Douglass, "Nation Building and Women: The Effect of Intervention on Women's Agency," Foreign Policy Analysis 4 (2009): 45-65. [Class Website]
Carol Atkinson, "Does Soft Power Matter? A Comparative Analysis of Student Exchange Programs, 1980-2006," Foreign Policy Analysis 6 (2010): 1-22. [Class Website]
February 12: Quantitative Methods II: Introduction to SPSS
Short assignment 4: Conduct a survey. Each group member should survey at least 10 AU students regarding the class topic.
Introduction to SPSS.
Meet in the Anderson Computing Complex, Room B13.
Before class, look at the SPSS tutorial: http://www1.american.edu/ssrl/archive2/tutorials/SPSS/spss.html
February 16: Quantitative Methods III: Evaluating Quantitative Arguments
Questions to ask as you read: What is their research question? What are their hypotheses? How do they test their hypotheses? What were their variables? Which article was the most persuasive? Are democracies inherently more peaceful or is the democratic peace only a post-WWII phenomenon?
Zeev Maoz and Bruce Russett , “Normative and Structural Causes of Democratic Peace, 1946-1986,” American Political Science Review 87:3 (1993) pages 624-638. [Class Website]
Henry Farber and Joanne Gowa, “Polities and Peace,” International Security 20:2 (1995) pages 123-146. [Class Website]
The Interpretive Approach
February 19: Interpretive Research I: Meaning and Symbols
Short Research Design 1 Due ( What are the elements of a good scientific method paper?). ** Important: See the exemplary "Scientific Method Short Research Design" [Class Website]
Questions to ask as you read: What are symbols? What are artifacts? What do we mean by meaning? Can artifacts have more than one meaning? What are interpretive communities? How do we study culture?
Anne Norton, "Culture is an Observable Concept," in 95 Thesis on Politics, Culture, and Method New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004, 34-36. [Class Website]
Dvora Yanow, Conducting Interpretive Policy Analysis Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2000, 14-23
Below are two exemplary illustrations of what "thick description" looks like:
Michel Foucault, "The Body of the Condemned," Discipline and Punish (New York: Vintage, 1995) 1-7. http://foucault.info/documents/disciplineAndPunish/foucault.disciplineAndPunish.torture.en.html
Clifford Geertz, "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight," The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973), chapter 15. http://www.si.umich.edu/~rfrost/courses/MatCult/content/Geertz.pdf
February 23: Interpretive Research II: Doing Fieldwork and Taking Fieldnotes
Short Assignment 5: Conduct a participant observation--Part 1. Type your field notes and bring them to class. See the " Participant Observation Field Guide" for guidance.
Questions to ask as you read: Where's the field? What's fieldwork? What's the point of fieldwork? What are field notes? What am I looking for when I'm in the field? What are furries?
Erving Goffman, “On Fieldwork,” in Contemporary Field Research ed. Robert M. Emerson (Longrove: Waveland, 2001), pp 153-158. [Class Website].
Heather A. Davis, "On the Streets," Penn Current 21 May 2009 http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/current/interviews/052109-1.html
Becky Conway, "Studying Subcultures Using Participant Observation," Everyday Sociology 10 May 2009 http://nortonbooks.typepad.com/everydaysociology/2009/05/studying-subcultures-using-participant-observation.html
Philippe Bourgois and Jeff Schonberg, "Righteous Dopefiend." American Ethnography Quasimonthly http://www.americanethnography.com/article_sql.php?id=92
February 26: Interpretive Research III: Interpreting Diplomatic Institutions
Short Assignment 6: Conduct a participant observation--Part 2. Thicken up your fieldnotes with a follow up observation. This time in the field it may be helpful to focus your observations on one or two recurring actions that you note different people doing--e.g. how people greet each other, get in line, choose which table to sit at, leave the room, respond to friends vs. strangers, etc. Spend some time describing their actions in detail. More importantly, tell me what you think the actions that you're observing mean to the people involved. It should be 2-3 pages. For guidance, see the "Participant Observation Field Guide."
Questions to ask as you read: What is his research question? How does he gather data to answer his research question? Are their variables in this study? Does he measure anything? Why don't diplomats ever produce anything new? Is the article persuasive? What makes it persuasive/not persuasive?
Iver Neumann, “’A Speech That the Entire Ministry May Stand for,’ or: Why Diplomats Never Produce Anything New,” International Political Sociology 1:2 (June 2007), pages 183-200. [Class Website]
Sally Raskoff, "Courtroom Dramaturgy," Everyday Sociology Blog http://nortonbooks.typepad.com/everydaysociology/2009/08/courtroom-dramaturgy.html
March 2: Interpreting Research III: Interpreting Checkpoints
Questions to ask as you read: How does she gather data for this study? How did she access the community? Who was her first key informant? What do the checkpoints symbolize to the Palestinians? What are some ways the Palestinians resisted the checkpoint? What is the checkpoint economy? How did the checkpoint economy expand?
Helga Tawil-Souri, "New Palestinian Centers: An Ethnography of the 'Checkpoint Economy.' International Journal of Cultural Studies 12 (2009).
March 5: Interpretive Research IV: Conducting Interviews and Interpreting Words
Questions to ask as you read: What's the difference between structured, semi-structured, and un-structured interviews? What are some standard interview methods? How can we analyze interviews?
"Semi-Structured Interview" http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/methods/semi-structured%20interview.html
Robert L. Peabody, Susan Webb Hammond, Jean Torcom, Lynne P. Brown, Carolyn Thompson, and Robin Kolodny, "Interviewing Political Elites," PS: Political Science and Politics 23, no. 3 (1990): 451-455. [Class Website]
Frederic Charles Schaffer, "Ordinary Language Interviewing," in Interpretation and Method, eds., Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea, Armonk NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2006, 150-160. [Class Website]
Anne Speckhard, "Research Challenges Involved in Field Research and Interviews Regarding the Militant Jihad, Extremism, and Suicide Terrorism." Democracy and Security 5 (2009): 199-222. [Class Website]
March 9: Class Cancelled for Spring Break
March 12: Class Cancelled for Spring Break
March 16: Interpretive Research V: Interpreting Historical Documents
Short Assignment 7: Conduct a semi-structured interview with at least 3 different people. Write a brief narrative describing what you asked and how the interviewees responded. It should be 1-2 pages.
Questions to ask as you read: What are historical representations? What are the steps of analysis that Dunn outlines? What are the steps of analysis that Price outlines? What kinds of data do the authors use?
Kevin C. Dunn, "Examining Historical Representations." International Studies Review 8 (2006): 370-381.
Richard Price, "A Genealogy of the Chemical Weapons Taboo." International Organization 49 (1995): 73-103.
March 19: Interpretive Research VI: Interpreting Popular Media
Questions to ask as you read: How many films does he analyze? How does he compare the films? What does ambiguity, subversion, and legitimization look like? Be able to describe an example of subversion and legitimization.
Christian W. Erickson, "Counter-Terror Culture: Ambiguity, Subversion, or Legitimization?" Security Dialogue 38 (2007): 197-214.
Iver B. Neumann and Daniel H. Nexon, editors, Harry Potter and International Relations. Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.
Jutta Weldes, editor, To Seek Out New Worlds: Exploring Links Between Science Fiction and World Politics. Palgrave, 2003.
March 23: Evaluating Interpretive Research
Questions to ask as you read: How do I judge the quality of interpretive research? What are some criteria for judging the quality?
A selection from Peregrine Schwartz-Shea, "Judging Quality: Evaluative Criteria and Epistemic Communities," in Interpretation and Method, eds., Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea, Armonk NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2006, 101-110. [Class Website]
March 26: Relational Approaches I: Introducing Social Networks and Network Analysis
Short Research Design 2 Due (See What are the elements of a good interpretive research design?). See also the "Interpretive Short Research Design" [Class Website] for an excellent example of how to do this assignment.
Questions to ask as you read: What are social relations? Why are they important? How do we study them?
Brad Stone and Noam Cohen, "Social Networks Spread Iranian Defiance," New York Times 15 June 2009 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/world/middleeast/16media.html?_r=1&hp
John Palfrey, Bruce Etling, and Robert Faris, "Reading Twitter in Tehran?" Washington Post 21 June 2009 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/19/AR2009061901598.html?sid=ST2009061902364
Alexander Dryer, “How the NSA Does 'Social Network Analysis,'" Slate, May 15, 2006. http://www.slate.com/id/2141801/
Charles Tilly, "Systems, Dispositions, and Transactions in Social Analysis," in Explaining Social Processes Charles Tilly, Boulder: Paradigm 2008, 26-35. [Class Website]
Emilie M. Hafner-Burton, Miles Kahler, and Alexander H. Montgomery, "Network Analysis for International Relations," International Organization 63 (2009): 559-592. [Class Website].
Colin Barass, "'Infectious' People Spread Memes Across the Web," media/anthropology http://johnpostill.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/httpwp-mep1dnd-bv/
Brian Fung, "A Blog Revolution in Madagascar?" Foreign Policy http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/08/12/madagascars_blogosphere_revolution
March 30: Relational Approaches II: Formal Network Analysis
Questions to ask as you read: What does he mean by node? What are the ties he's studying? What is the data he's using? What's the relationship between trust and economics on the black market? What is reciprocity? How does reciprocity shape social relations?
David Kinsella, “The Black Market in Small Arms: Examining a Social Network,” Contemporary Security Policy 27:1 (April 2006): 100-117. [Class Website]
"The Happiness Effect." Time Magazine, 11 December 2008. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1865960,00.html
Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler, "The Collective Dynamics of Smoking in a Large Social Network," The New England Journal of Medicine 358, no. 21 (2008): 2249-2258. [Class Website]
April 2: Relational Approaches III: Transnational Advocacy Networks
Short Assignment 8: Map out a social network. Identify its implications. For some great examples of more or less complex networks check out this site: http://www.visualcomplexity.com/vc/
Questions to ask as you read: What are transnational advocacy networks? What distinguishes them from other networks? How do transnational advocacy networks work? What are the tactics they use? Who are key actors in these networks? What kinds of data do they use to study transnational advocacy networks?
Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, "Transnational Advocacy Networks in International Politics," in Activists Beyond Borders (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998), 1-39. [Class Website]
Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, "Transnational Networks on Violence against Women," in Activists Beyond Borders (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998), 165-198. [Class Website]
Phil Williams, "The Nature of Drug-Trafficking Networks." Current History 97 (1998): 154-159. [Class Website]
April 6: Relational Approaches IV: Family Ties and Genocide
Questions to ask as you read: What was her data? How did she collect the data? What was the power of local ties? How did local ties shape one's participation in the genocide?
Lee An Fujii, "The Power of Local Ties: Popular Participation in the Rwandan Genocide." Security Studies 17 (2008): 568-597.
April 9: Relational Approaches V: Identity and Rhetorical Commonplaces
Questions to ask as you read: What data does he use? What does he mean by rhetorical commonplace? What doe he mean by identity? What is the relationship between identity and foreign policy? What are the steps he suggests you should take in studying rhetorical commonplaces?
Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, “Whose Identity?: Rhetorical Commonplaces in “American” Wartime Foreign Policy,” in Identity and Global Politics: Empirical and Theoretical Elaborations (New York: Palgrave, 2004), chapter 10. [Class Website]
April 13: Relational Approaches VI: Identity and Representational Force
Short Assignment 9: Analyze discourse. Pick at least two texts that are talking about the same issue or problem. It will help if the texts represent two very different perspectives--like G. W. Bush and bin Laden. Refer to our class exercise, the Jackson, and Mattern pieces for help. Bring it to class.
Questions to ask as you read: What data does she use? What is the puzzle she's trying to solve? What is language power? How does it work? What are terror and exile? What does she mean by identity?
Janice Bially Mattern, “The Difference Language Power Makes: Solving the Puzzle of the Suez Crisis,” in Language, Agency, and Politics in a Constructed World ed. Francois Debrix (Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 2003), chapter 8.
April 16: Relational Approaches VII: Evaluating Relational Approaches
April 20: What Research Tradition Do You Fit In and Why?
Short Research Design 3 Due (What are the elements of a good relational research design?). Also see the "Relational Short Research Design" for an excellent example [Class Website].
No reading, come prepared to discuss which research tradition you fit in and why.
April 23: Wrap up and Review
No reading, come prepared to break up into groups and review the three different methodologies.
April ??: Final Research Design Due at 12:00 Noon. Email the paper to me.
Students in this course are required to attend each class, participate in class discussion, do the assigned readings, deliver a presentation in class, and turn in papers of their own individual, original work on the specified dates. All students are expected to have read, and to abide by, the Academic Integrity Code of the American University. A copy can be found at: http://www.american.edu/academics/integrity/code01.htm.
The grade for this course will comprise of the following:
Short Research Design 1 10
Short Research Design 2 10
Short Research Design 3 10
Long Research Design Final Paper 25
Class Participation 15
Short Assignments 30
Short Research Designs: The core writing assignments for the course are a series of research designs. A research design is a prospectus for a larger research project. The design identifies an interesting issue area and poses a clear research question. The design then offers an initial argument in response to that question and proposes what information the researcher needs to make that argument. It offers guidelines as to how the researcher would gather the information and make sense of it. In short, it is a roadmap for a larger research project and paper. Each research question is situated in a major research methodology.
Students will write a total of three (3) short research designs. Each design should pose a question from a different methodological tradition. The first design should propose a scientific study, either qualitative or quantitative. The second design should propose an interpretative study. The third design should propose a network-relational project. Short designs should be no more than five (5) pages.
Each research design should follow the following template: Identify an issue, area, concept, or literature of interest to you. Explain what is interesting and relevant about the topic. Pose a research question. Designs MUST have a clearly articulated research question. Make an argument that responds to that question. The type of argument will differ depending upon the research tradition. Identify what research is necessary to complete the argument. Outline the way in which you, as a researcher, could complete the research. Papers must have proper citations and a complete bibliography. Papers should be well written and argued. Papers are due at the beginning of class on the day listed above.
Long Research Design Final Paper: Pick one of your short research designs and expand it to a complete research design. The longer design should have a complete literature review and situate the research question within an established theoretical debate. It should include greater detail about the aspects of the argument that the final research project will make. It should employ at least one of the methods and methodologies discussed in class. It should offer greater detail about information gathering. The text of the paper should be twelve (12) pages in length and contain proper citations and a complete bibliography. The bibliography does not count as one of the 12 pages. Papers should be well written and argued. Further requirements for the final paper will be discussed in class.
Note about papers: Students may select any topic they so desire for their papers. To make your life significantly easier, you can use the same topic for all four papers. A research design proposes a project, it does not actually complete that project. A research design advances a tentative initial argument in response to its question. It does mean that the initial argument will in fact be the final argument and conclusion—the experience and process of research always alters the original design. However, the design offers a starting point and an initial plan from which an experienced researcher can learn to deviate and improvise as the situation warrants. Your papers will help you learn to make better plans for your own work. Your experience in following through on those plans will make you a better researcher.
Short Assignments: From time to time, students will be required to complete short assignments for particular class sessions. These short assignments are designed to help students practice the skills of a particular aspect of research. The short assignments will also contribute to the day’s class discussion. Students should turn in their short assignment at the beginning of class unless otherwise indicated. Short assignments should be only one to two (1-2) pages in length.
Class Participation: Class participation will include assigned class readings, attendance, contribution to the class discussion, asking intelligent questions in class, and being an attentive listener to other students. More formally, I will occassionally do class exercises that you will be required to turn into me. The more of these class exercises that you miss, the lower your class participation grade.