Assignments: Difference between a research paper and a consultancy report?

posted Sep 11, 2012, 7:22 AM by Pippa Norris
The first class raised questions about the contrast between the first assignment, which is designed as a research paper, and the final paper, which is designed as a consultancy report. We can discuss this in more detail nearer the time of the work but you can think of the difference primarily in terms of the targeted readership, and thus the format, contents, and focus.

The research paper  analyzes ONE of the discussion questions specified in the syllabus for classes 1-9. This is designed primarily for the research community in the social sciences. The ideal would be something which potentially could be published in the Journal of Democracy. Read the article in class 2 by Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way as a model to follow. Research papers should include a thorough literature review, clearly cited, where you engage with others in debates in the academic literature, although also very readable and accessible, with a well-developed argument about the key question.  

The consultancy report is designed as advocacy and policy analysis with a nominal agency as your client, such as IFES, OAS, IDEA, UNDP, and the World Bank, to be published by the agency and read by a broad practitioner audience, such as Ministers, party leaders, senior civil servants, NGOs, and journalists. For an example, see my own report for the OSCE: Consultancy reports should continue to be well-supported with extensive references to the research literature and evidence,  with recommendations, intended for wide public readership.