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SOSC 3520 - Understanding Comparative Politics: Analyze Research Needs

Analyze Your Information Needs

Analyze your Research Needs

Think before you start to search or to research in Google or Library databases. Clarify "what you really need to find". Ask yourself these questions:

  • Q: What type of assignment is it?
  • A:   A group research paper
    • 3,000 -3,600 words for group of 3
    • 4,000-4,800 for group of 4
    • 5,000-6,000 words for a group of 5


  • What does the professor say the paper should do?
  • A:  Will analyze and discuss - ONE major issue in comparative politics
    • Incorporating analysis of at least 2 country cases with quality evidence
    • Apply relevant concepts and/or theories
  • Q:  What is "quality evidence"? 
  • A   Book chapters, journal articles, statistics, and reliable information to support your arguments or opinions
  • Q: Do you need current or historical information, or both?
  • A: Maybe Both


  • Q: How will the paper be judged?
  • A:  Quality of paper will be evaluated on same criteria a group presentation
    • Interpretation of the question
    • Quality of argument
    • Quality of evidence
    • Application of relevant concepts/theories
    • Structure, clarity and appropriate use of language. 

If you are not sure about any of the above requirements, talk to your instructor.

So you need to find

  • Material that you can use to analyze the case of at least 2 countries
  • Material that can provide quality evidence about those countries
  • Material that engages with the concepts and theories you have learned in the class


Search & Research

Search & Research are different 1. As developing scholars, you will need to do both.

  • Know the answer or have a "hoped for answer"? = Search
    • How many nations in Asia have a federal system?
    • How many former British colonies adopted a federal model?
  • Don't know the answer; not sure of the question? = Research
    • How do federal systems promote or not promote ethnic peace in multi-ethnic countries?
    • What are the common factors that contribute to nations developing asymetric federal systems?

1. Wilkinson, Lane. (2014, July 15). Is research inquiry? [blog post] . Retrieved from:

Research - Think - Search - Look at Results - Think Again

The research process can be seen as a "virtuous circle"

You search & evaluate results & think, and skim & read & then...

You search & evaluate results & think, and skim & read & then...

You search & evaluate results & think, and skim & read & then..

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