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Division of International Relations



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Research question

Is it permissible to prevent Iran from conquering the nuclear weapon ?

Types of research questions

Normative: Is X justified, moral, legal?

Is selective conscientious objection in Israel and the US morally permissible or desirable?

Do the sanctions imposed on Iran over the last 4 years conform to ethical and legal standards that regulate sanctions?

Comparative: What is the difference/similarity between X and Y?

What are the differences of public diplomacy as used in the conflict between China and Tibet compared to that between E. Timor and Indonesia?

What are the differences in the laws that regulate chemical, biological and nuclear weapons?

Causal: What are the causes of a phenomenon? How does X affect Y?

How did the weather affect the success of the Allied invasion on D-Day?

What factors account for the intervention of India in East Pakistan during the 1971 Bangladesh war of independenc?

Functional: What is the function of X? How can the function of X be improved/mitigated?

To what extent did medical care contribute to Israel’s victory in 1948? What factors might improve the provision of medical care to host-nation allies in Iraq before 2010?

How did the Taliban use social media to their military advantage in Afghanistan until 2006.




Types of research questions (con’t)

Attainment: What is the best way to attain A?

Attain deterrence on Israel’s Norther border in the 1950’s?

To what extent did the revolution in Tunisia during the Arab Spring achieve its initial goals?

Identification: What are the major elements of Z ?

Of asymmetric war in Africa in the 1950’s?

What are the major elements of international law to prevent trafficking in women and others (e.g. children or workers)?

Problem solving: What is the best solution to problem B? How best to implement this solution?

What is the best way to battle propaganda against the US as it appeared during the Syrian civil war?


Sample Outline Was it permissible to use the atomic bomb on Japan at the of WWII?


Short historical introduction

Definition of terms

Atomic bomb

Strategic bombing

State Thesis: It is not permissible to use the atomic bomb

Direct attacks on civilians is not permissible (rights)

There were alternative means to bring the war to an end (not last resort)

The atomic bomb would have serious consequences for future wars (future consequences)

Direct attacks on civilians are not permissible

Noncombatant immunity in WWII

The accepted norm of area bombing is misguided

Atomic bombing is fundamentally different than other forms of strategic bombing.

There were alternative means to bring about the end of the war

Demand less than unconditional surrender from the Japanese

Demonstrate the Bomb in an isolated area

Continue with strategic bombing

The atomic bomb would have serious consequences

Desire of USSR to get the bomb.

Encourages other forms of unconventional warfare

Not restrained by mutual deterrence



Restate thesis and proof

Future or other implications



Sample Outline Is it permissible to use animals in scientific experimentation?


Define terms


Scientific experimentation

Medical experimentation

Other experimentation (military, cosmetic)

How are animals used


II. State Thesis: No, it is not permissible because:

Animals have rights

Animal testing is not effective

Other and better means are available




Is it permissible to use animals in scientific experimentation? (continued)

II. Animals have rights

What rights to animals have?

The right to a long, pain free life

The right not to be used as a means

The right not to be tortured

The controversy over rights: for and against animal rights

Animals have only limited rights

Animals are supposed to serve people and have no rights

III. Animal Testing is not effective

Animals are not like people and make bad test subjects

Animals have different tissue

Animals behave differently

Animal testing produces the wrong or bad results (provide data)

Animal Testing is expensive

IV. Alternative methods of experimentation are available

Different kinds of alternative methods

Human testing

Human Testing gives better results

People can give their consent and this makes it morally better than using animals.

Computer simulation

Assessment of alternative methods





Is it permissible to use animals in scientific experimentation? Conclusion


V. Conclusion


Restate thesis and proof

Future or other implications




Title: Research Question

Introduction – 1-2 pages

Short background

Define terms

Answer question

Summarize thesis (3-6 sentences)

Body of Paper

Claim 1; 3-4 pages

Claim 2; 3-4 pages

Claim 3; 3-4 pages

Conclusion 1 page


Implications for research, policy etc





Guidelines for writing

Length: 15 pages (5000-5500 words)

Bibliographic sources: 10+ scholarly sources

Double spaced: Ariel or Times Roman Font

Citations (no more than two lines):

Short: (Levy, 2009:3) + reference page

Levy, A., History of Spain (Cambridge MIT Press, 2009): 3 (no reference page

Plagiarism: No cutting and pasting!

Automatic fail and disciplinary complaint

E copy only




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