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In your research, you should endeavor to get as close as possible to the events or phenomena you are studying.But, of course, no one can speak every language and interview every participant in a political or social event.There are, however, gradations of primary evidence.
Obviously, you need to have a firm grasp of the facts of the case, but you must then move on to answer a serious and important why or how question in the paper itself.
Real research means something other than reading secondary sources in English or pulling information off the Internet. What counts as a primary source, though, depends on what kind of question you are trying to answer.
Why does a specific aspect of politics work as it does?
How has a social or political phenomenon changed from one period to another? Why have some countries been more successful in the transition from Communism than others?
Say you want to write a paper on the causes of Communisms demise in eastern Europe. Or say you want to write about how conceptions of national identity have changed in Britain since the 1980s.
You would begin by reading some general secondary sources on the collapse of Communism, from which you might surmise that two factors were predominant: economic problems of Communist central planning and Mikhail Gorbachevs reforms in the Soviet Union. In this case, you might examine the speeches of British political leaders, editorials in major British newspapers, and voting support for the Scottish National Party or other regional parties.Next are the same sources translated into other languages.Then come sources that are studies of or otherwise refer to direct experience.And you should do all this as early in the course as possible.A research question, at least in the social sciences, begins with the word why or how.Think of it as a puzzle: Why did a particular political or social event turn out as it did and not some other way?Why does a particular pattern exist in social life?If nothing else, begin with the Encyclopaedia Britannica, a wonderful but sadly neglected resource.Read a few books or articles on topics you find of interest.Those are skills that you will use in any profession you might eventually pursue.To write first-rate research papers, follow the following simple ruleswell, simple to repeat, but too often ignored by most undergraduates.