Research Question

Research Question: Identify a research question within the field of political geography. Your
research question must be focused, coherent, and clear. Moreover, it must be answerable
within the scope of a course paper. It is not appropriate to select a research question that
can be answered using only the course readings. You need to use the concepts introduced in
class expansively, by which I mean, apply the concepts to new questions. To do this, you
should identify a research question that is capable of using the analytic tools of political
geography to address one of the substantive themes of the course (e.g. state, territory,
property, democracy, environment) in relation to a particular issue that we have not
explicitly addressed in the course.
Moreover, your research question should be answerable through existing sources (court
documents, media reportage, government reports). It should not require you to conduct
interviews or ethnographic research. I want you to be able to do this research without
talking to anyone (or getting research ethics approval).
Evaluating the research question, we will look for research questions to clearly connect one
of the themes of the class and a particular issue. Furthermore, a good research question
must clearly apply the analytic tools of political geography to connect the course themes
and particular issue of interest.
It must be focused, narrow enough to be effectively answered in the context of a course
paper. You need to bracket your question (for example, by time or place). For instance,
using one legal decision or local controversy to consider a broader theme from the course.
Your research question should be coherent, in the sense that it should have one controlling
idea or hypothesis. You should avoid posing fragmented research questions, in which two or
more core ideas are pulling the research in different directions. While your paper can have
subarguments, you need to ensure that the component subarguments of your paper are all
subordinated to a governing question.
Your research question must be clear. This means that you need to be precise in your
language. You want to know exactly what you are asking, exactly what you mean with your
words, and exactly what it would mean to answer the research questions.
What conceptions of public space are involved in policies regulating whether people could
sleep in Edmonton libraries?
How do environmental assessments of LNG projects in British Columbia account for
Aboriginal territorial claims?
How do Aboriginal mobilizations against pipelines enact claims to sovereignty that
challenge the conception of an overarching Canadian state sovereignty?
How will the inclusion of investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms in the
Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) effect the capacity of governments
to set policy to protect the environment?
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