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There are, however, gradations of primary evidence.
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?
Follow up the suggested reading on the course syllabus or the footnotes or bibliographies of the texts you are reading for the course.
After that, speak with the professor about some of your general ideas and the possible research directions you are thinking about pursuing.
Why did the Labour Party win the last British general election?
How have conceptions of race changed in the US since the 1960s?In the best published social science writing you will be able to identify a clear how or why question at the heart of the research.How and why questions are essential because they require the author to make an argument.Primary sources in this case might include economic statistics, memoirs of politicians from the period or reportage in east European newspapers (available in English or other languages). You might also arrange an interview with an expert in the field: a noted scholar, a British government representative, a prominent journalist.The point about primary sources is that they take you as close as possible to where the action isthe real, on-the-ground, rubber-meets-the-road facts from which you will construct your interpretive argument.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.requires the author to do no more than list facts and datesa good encyclopedia entry, maybe, but not a good research paper.What and when questions are only the starting point for writing research papers.At the beginning of a course, you will probably not know enough about the major scholarly topics that are of most importance in the field, the topics that are most well-covered in the secondary literature or the topics that have already had the life beaten out of them by successive generations of writers.You should begin by doing some general reading in the field.