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What’s the Point? Why and How Puzzles Can Make Research Meaningful

Dec 08, 2016 | 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM

The literature on methods in and beyond political science has focused a great deal on how to conduct research, but largely neglected the question of why a particular study should be undertaken. It suggests that the rationale for new research is that (1) it fills a ‘gap’; (2) addresses an important real-world problem; and/or (3) is methodologically rigorous. We argue that these justifications are both individually and collectively insufficient. Instead, we propose that a research puzzle is more useful for clarifying the nature and importance of a contribution to existing research. This lecture explores and clarifies what research puzzles are, and introduces a method for constructing such puzzles out of the vague ideas and questions that often trigger a research process.

Karl Gustafsson is Senior Research Fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs and part-time lecturer in political science at Stockholm University. Karl Gustafsson's research is concerned with international politics in East Asia, focusing in particular on how war memory influences Japan-China relations. His main research project deals with apologies, recognition and identity in Sino-Japanese relations. In an additional project he studies Chinese online collective memory. Linus Hagström is Professor of Political Science. He is concurrently Senior Research Fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs. Hagström is also Research Associate at The European Institute of Japanese Studies and the East Asia Peace Programme, and Editorial Board Member of Pacific Affairs. His research is focused on international relations in Northeast Asia, in particular Japanese foreign and security policy, Japan-China relations, and the North Korean nuclear issue. Linus Hagström is interested in matters related to power, identity, interpretation and narrative.

Time & Location

Dec 08, 2016 | 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM

FU Berlin
Silber-/Rostlaube room JK 26/101
Habelschwerdter Allee 45
14195 Berlin