Research is the process of asking questions of the world and gathering evidence to produce new knowledge. The skill of research design, like any other kind of design, is an innovative, creative, even artistic process. And like other kinds of design, a good one works well and a bad one will not tell you anything new. Bad designs just confirm preconceived notions about the world. This course will guide you through the steps of a rigorous academic research project that help you ask the kind of questions that, if you are successful, will yield surprising, complex answers about the world.
In your internships, you will be having new experiences and be exposed to new ideas. You will come up against the contradictions and complexities of the real political world. From this experience may come questions, questions not generally answered by those in the middle of the political process (people in political positions are usually called upon to be advocates, not researchers). However, nearly everyone in the political process has an answer to the question: "What is to be done?" In the last part of your paper, you will use the results of your inquiry to ask how these results might contribute good information to future decisionmaking. You will learn something about asking good questions, getting good answers and then thinking about how those good answers lead to better actions.