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Generating Research Questions in International

Published:2014-09-10 Published:2014-09-10   Author:Lu Lingyu   [Small] [Middle] [Big] [More]

There are three interrelated and complementary approaches to generating research questions in the study of international relations. The first is the logical approach through which the current research agenda is logically expanded. It is chiefly realized through theoretical, methodological and interdisciplinary critiques. The advantage of this approach lies in an incremental contribution to the growth of knowledge and high efficiency. Meanwhile, the risk of this approach is the possibility of reducing research to mere logical games without historical relevance. The marginal contributions of this approach are also diminishing. The second approach is the historical one, which stresses the discovery of research questions in the real world. The specific sources of question include contemporary history in which scholars have been experiencing, historical studies, and historical philosophy. The most original contributions usually come from international relations scholars along this line, but generalization is a major challenge for this approach. In regard to the third approach or the so-called logical-historical approach, scholars tend to revise existing theories or construct new theorieswhen there are divergences between theory and history. This approach is the best way of generating good research questions, but it is also the most demanding on researchers’ command of theory and history.

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