POLS 3520: Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation
Your research proposal is a document that lays out your research topic and questions, how
these questions relate to ongoing discussions in the field, how you plan to answer your
questions, and includes an annotated bibliography.
Introduction 1-2 pages
The introduction is an extended version of the “pitch” you wrote in October. Beyond that, the
introduction should summarize your engagement with the existing literature and frameworks,
your methodology and source base, and your research question(S).
Introductions, as the word suggests, introduce your reader to your topic, your question, and
your way of looking at the problem. They should not be a lengthy pre-history of the topic, nor
should they be full of broad statements (the Russian peasantry was always subjugated! The
Russian people have always been traditional!). Rather, they should briefly set the scene for your
discussion, or even briefly state the existing debate (in broad terms) on your topic. If you have a
“soft” opening paragraph that relates a story or anecdote, make sure that the story or anecdote
you chose actually connects to the question you are going to pose. Remember, the point is to
show the reader, in a manner as efficient as possible, what your research project is going to be
about and why it matters.
After the opening paragraph, briefly introduce the state of the field. What are the main
explanations for the problem/conflict you are studying? Then, in the final paragraph, introduce
your main research question and sub-questions. You may choose to do this in a more openended
way, the way someone working in the humanities tradition would, or in a way more
common in Political Science, with clear hypotheses. Finally, explain how you will answer the
question/test the hypotheses.
State of the Field 2-3 pages
In this section, you will explain the debate on the topic and related issues as it exists today. The
questions that you will want to address here include: What are the main points of agreement
and disagreement? What are the methodologies and sources that have led people to particular
conclusions? What frameworks and theories are other scholars employing, and how does the
choice of framework affect the answer to the research question? How and why has the debate
changed over time?
A good “state of the field” section will not simply summarize the existing literature, but explain
why scholars have asked certain questions, reached particular conclusions, and so on. You don’t
have to cover every single piece written on the topic: rather, give the reader an analysis of how
the debate has evolved. Start with the relevant frameworks (if applicable) and move down to
the more specific literature. In the final paragraph of the section, explain how you will intervene
in the ongoing debate. Do you want to test a theory? Challenge a particular interpretation?
Take sides in a disagreement between groups of scholars?
Source Base/Data and Methodology (2-3 pages)
In this section, you build on the work you did in the source analysis to explain what kind of
sources and methods you will use to answer the research questions you posed earlier and to
test your hypotheses.
First, explain what kind of sources you are going to use. If they are textual source, explain how
and why they were produced, in what context, for what audience, etc. If data, explain how and
why this data is collected. Either way, make sure you take note of potential biases and
problems and explain how you will address them. Second, explain where these sources/data
can be found. Third, give an example of a source, the way you did in the source analysis
assignment. And finally, explain how these sources help you answer the questions you are
posing, and how the source base/data/methodology you plan to employ is similar or different
to the source base/data/methodology employed by other scholars you discuss in the “State of
the Field” section.
Here you simply include a revised and updated version of the annotated bibliography you
submit in November. Make sure that the updated version includes all literature you cite in the