International Relations Research Paper: Complete Guide for International Students

Writing guide
Posted on February 14, 2019

Writing a research paper in your university life is among requirements for assessment and for graduation. A research paper in international relations may focus on different areas of the multidimensional field and may require you to analyze, discuss, evaluate, persuade, or synthesize content. Irrespective of the objective of your international relations term paper, it is important to master research and writing skills. This guideline provides international relations research paper tips, which come of our writers’ extensive experience. Make sure to follow them and take the most out of them.

Selecting a Topic for Your International Relations Research Paper: First-Class Ideas from Our Writers

The first and the most challenging aspect of writing your international studies research paper will be selecting an appropriate topic. Your lecturer may assign you a particular research paper topic. If this is the case, you only need to begin gathering ideas surrounding the given topic. On other occasions, you could be provided with several research topics and are expected to select one for your research. Nevertheless, it is equally difficult to select an appropriate topic among the ones provided. Conversely, it is common for professors to provide students with the freedom and flexibility to choose topics that interest them within the international relations field of study. Here are some tips to help you in choosing a topic for your research paper:

Select a topic you are interested in to ensure the research paper is informative and relevant. Your interest in a certain topic may be based on a need to explore current issues in international relations, a need to provide a solution to issues affecting nation’s diplomatic and foreign policies, or it could be based on gaps in existing international relations literature.

Narrow your ideas to generate a manageable topic. Manageability of a research topic is determined through scope and availability of information in this case:

  • Use limiters to narrow down topics that are too broad. Limiting the topic provides the research paper and the readers with a specific focus. You can limit the topic by geographical regions, periods in the history of international relations, or populations.
  • The topic should not be too broad because the research paper will lose focus.
  • Conduct background research on existing literature on international relations studies to help you choose and limit the scope of your topic.

In cases where you fail to develop topic ideas through brainstorming, you can consult your peers, discuss the matter with your professor, or refer to your lecture notes and texts on international relations to refresh your knowledge of the concepts in the area of study.

You may also need to think and analyze the who, what, when, where, and why questions that would guide you when formulating an appropriate topic; in this case, you need to answer the following questions:

  • Why did I choose this particular idea and topic? What interests me about it? Do I have an idea and opinion about the issues involved in the topic? What is the topic’s possible relevance to the reader?
  • Who are the information providers on this topic? Do I base the topic on available literature or do I engage human subjects as study respondents? Who does the topic affect?
  • What are the likely major questions for this topic? Is the chosen international relations topic current, controversial or of interest to the intended population?
  • Where is the topic important? Is it at the local community level, national, or international level?

Possible topics for your international relations research paper include:

  • Third World Countries and the Politics of Technology Transfer: a Case of Ghana.
  • Prospects and Challenges of Regional Integration in South America.
  • Terrorism and the U.S. Foreign Policy: Challenges and Solutions.
  • The Role of ECOWAS in the Liberian Crisis.
  • The Role of the United Nation in Promoting Gender Equality.

Important Pre-Writing Tips for Your International Relations Research Paper

Prewriting in research is a term that denotes a range of activities that help you start your writing process. Prewriting is a strategy that helps you develop ideas for your research, and guides you in exploring and organizing your thoughts before drafting your paper. By engaging in the process, you can also determine your research paper’s audience and purpose. Below is a list of some important prewriting activities.

Choosing a topic. As indicated above, topic selection, is the first and most important element of a research paper. The selected topic should fall within the international studies field of study and should be manageable and interesting. Ensure that the selected research topic has the potential to add value to existing international relations literature and persuade different stakeholders to adopt certain practices relevant to issues in international relations.

Freewriting. In writing, free writing is freedom at its best as it involves jotting down anything and everything that comes into your head. You do not need to pay attention to spelling or grammar. You can begin free writing with or without a topic.

Conduct research. Research may occur at every step of your writing process; thus, be ready to engage in different phases of the research. After conducting research geared towards selecting a topic for your paper, you should gather information for content purposes. The research step directly influences your research paper’s content and equips you with a basis for your argument, and evidence to support articulated claims. It is appropriate to research both primary and secondary sources to obtain a diversity of ideas.

Note taking. While conducting your research, take note of the important arguments, themes, theories, statistics, and facts documented in your sources. The process ensures you do not miss out on major theories and issues influencing the research topic. Precise and clear notes may provide quotes necessary for providing support to your claims.

Clustering. To cluster your ideas into meaningful information, write down major points on a piece of paper. Subsequently, use links to put together matching or related ideas. Clustering helps you to develop themes that focus on your subject matter. Once you are done with clustering, outline why the topic and research are significant, the relevant background material, the thesis and purpose statements, and the organizational plan for major and supporting ideas.

Outlining. An outline is a plan that organizes your ideas and researched information. Outlining works best after you are done with brainstorming, note taking, and conducting your research. The outlines can be formal or informal depending on the ideas developed and the research paper requirements. Ensure your outline is hierarchical, beginning with major arguments and proceeding to the supporting claims and evidence that explains a topic or phenomenon. If your research paper requires a formal outline, you may use numbers and lettered headings and subheadings. The numbers and lettered headings show relationships between ideas and facts and can save time by creating a system you can adjust.

You can use different types of headings such as:

  • Topic outline;
  • Sentence outline;
  • A reverse outline that is created after writing a first draft;
  • Decimal outline;
  • Rough outline (bullets or numbers).

Creating an Appropriate Title and Thesis Statement for Your International Relations Research Paper

Research Paper Title

A research paper title summarizes the main ideas of your research into a few words. A good research paper title should describe the content and purpose of your research using the fewest words possible. The title should be precise and interesting because it is the first element that draws the readers’ attention and determines whether the reader will be interested in the paper. Therefore, an effective and appropriate research paper title should define purpose in an interesting manner and using few words. The following parameters can be helpful in formulating a suitable title for your research paper:

  • the objective of the research;
  • the scope of the research;
  • the type of research and narrative tone of the study;
  • methods used to study identified issues (quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods).

The following are the basic tips to consider when writing a title for your international relations research paper:

  • Ensure you have a simple, brief, and attractive title. Since the title serves as a summary of the paper’s content, keep it brief and clear. In this regard, avoid unnecessary details and ensure the title only has 10 to 12 words. The word limit serves to ensure the title is not too long or too short. A narrow topic provides limited information that does not respond to the why, how, where, and what questions while a  lengthy title takes the readers’ attention away because it is unfocused.
  • Use appropriate descriptive words. Studies in international relations are broad and use words specific to issues surrounding the topic. Therefore, you should use keywords that define the nature of your research and those used in the research paper. Ensure the terms you use add meaning to your research paper and content. The terms also become the main search elements for the readers.
  • Avoid unknown abbreviations. Unless the abbreviations are well known and common in the international studies field of study, avoid their use. Thus, leave out lesser known terms or abbreviations not familiar to the intended audience.

Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is a sentence that summarizes your research paper content, provides your argument concerning the discussion topic, and provides readers with a direction of what to expect. In this case, you should formulate a thesis statement that informs your readers about the subject of your paper and the position you will take in the discussion. Remember that a strong thesis statement requires proof, which implies that it is not merely a statement of fact. Therefore, ensure you support your thesis statement with supporting evidence that will interest the readers. The following tips are effective for drafting your thesis statement:

  • Know the topic. It is easier to write a thesis statement if you know the topic and are conversant with its content and concepts. Reflecting on lecture notes and researching will help you acquire more information about your topic.
  • Limit your topic. Based on the information gathered and the required length of your research paper, limit your topic to a specific area. A narrow scope of topic will require a shorter paper while a broad scope will require a longer paper.
  • Brainstorm. Try to discover new ideas or connections and note them down. Try to develop common themes based on the generated ideas. Along with the themes, the chosen topic, and the researched information. You can develop an appropriate thesis statement.

To have a good thesis statement, ensure it:

  • Makes a clear, limited, and definite assertion that can be explored and justified using scholarly evidence;
  • Has specific arguments that provide the direction of your paper;
  • Is not too broad for your paper such that it would be impossible to explore every aspect of your claim and that it ensures the scope projected is manageable;
  • Present an argument that can be proven or argued against;
  • Shows your position on the international relations topic and direction of your argument.

Structuring Your International Relations Research Paper

Unlike an essay or a term paper, an international relations research paper has almost six parts that form a formal structure of the paper. You should ensure your research paper has a title page, abstract, introduction, body, conclusion, and reference section. Each of the sections contains different information and is significant in the research paper.

Title Page. The title page contains the title of the paper and is the first element the reader encounters in your research paper. Often, it is written as a stand-alone text own page. However, the title can appear just above the paper’s abstract. Your title page should contain:

  • Title of the research paper;
  • Name(s) of the author(s);
  • Name of the international relations course for which the research was completed;
  • The department in which the research was conducted;
  • Date of submission.

The above components may not all be necessary for your paper since some professors prefer customized formats. Observe your assignment’s requirement for the title page before submitting your paper.

Abstract. The abstract summarizes the paper by providing the significance of the study, methods used to conduct the research, findings, and their implications. The abstract should be less than 250 words and should indicate the:

  • issues to be investigated;
  • objectives of the research;
  • methods used to gather data and analysis;
  • major research findings;
  • interpretations and implications of the findings.

Introduction. The introduction of your research paper should provide readers with background information needed to understand the paper. The significance of the research and objectives should be presented in this section along with a thesis statement. Although the length may vary, the introduction should occupy at least 10% of your research paper.

Body. This section is the main part of the research paper and should present your arguments in a systematic and logical manner. Arguments can be presented in paragraphs or can be categorized in themes under subheadings. If the research is investigative, it is ideal to break down the section into further sub-sections such as methodology, findings, analysis, and discussion.

Conclusion. This forms the last aspect of your research paper. Ensure your conclusion sums up your major arguments and restates your thesis statement.

Post-Writing Tips from Our Writers

During the research paper writing process, you may err at any point in grammar, sentences, tense, or paragraph mechanics. These errors affect your overall grade; thus, engage in a review of your research paper to ensure it is free of paragraph, sentence, and word errors. Ensure to reference all the cited sources using appropriate referencing styles. This might be time-consuming, yet rewarding in the end.


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