Introduction – 1/2 page or about 1 paragraph
What is the problem that needs to be addressed? You will want to include the “solution” at the end of this introduction as your thesis statement or answer to the question (see below).
Background – 1/2 page or about 1 paragraph
What is the history of the problem?
Issues – 1 page (briefly state them in about 1 paragraph each)
What are at least three-four issues within the problem? Be aware of the themes (our weekly content) for the course and try to choose issues that dovetail with the course themes.
Research and Analysis Questions – answer these questions in the remaining 6 pages. Use the subheadings provided in order to give your reader a roadmap!
What is getting in the way of a solution? Fully explain two-three complications.
How could the problem be solved? Provide a few different ideas from various theoretical viewpoints studied in the course. Back them up with research that you have found.
Given the complicating factors, what is the best solution? Why? Back up your ideas with research or an analogous model (something that has worked in a slightly similar situation that you could apply to this problem).
Summary – Anticipated Outcome
What effect will the solution have on the problem? (Be sure to summarize problem in its entirety in the summary, including the solution and anticipated outcome.)
This basic outline presents an executive summary when all questions are answered. An executive summary is a very short document that sums up the problem and the solution. In its most effective form, an executive summary should only be one page long. The summary is placed at the beginning of a report or paper so that the “problem” and “answer” are easily identifiable for the reader. Of course, the more detailed report follows – but it also uses the basic outline above. In short, the executive summary really is the condensed version of the full report. Whether you work in business, for the government, or any other organization, you will use this form often to identify, understand, and solve problems. You may not always write it out formally, but your decision-making process will be constructed in a similar way.
Remember: All research papers need to have a thesis statement – which is answer to your research question. You may not really know what your overall “answer” or thesis is until you’ve written the first draft of the paper. That is okay. Go back to compose your introductory paragraph to include the thesis. To see more on how to compose a thesis statement, see “Developing A Thesis Statement.” You are writing an explanatory research paper. It is important to write in third person (not first) in a formal paper. Take yourself out of the paper as much as possible. Present arguments with supporting research that is logical and solid, showing that you understand the issue at hand and the theoretical IR concepts behind it.
Your overall paper will be no fewer and no more than eight pages (plus a References List that does not count toward the limit), double-spaced, 12 point font in Times New typeface. You will definitely find a lot of information on your topic. Therefore, it is an art to write to the limit of eight pages.
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