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a guide to research in politics and IR

A Comprehensive Guide to Research in Politics and International Relations

I have often wanted someone to tell me (like a guide to research contained) what it means to do research (and more specifically, what it means to do a PhD?) when I was doing my master’s in political science at Delhi University. I wanted to know what people really did when they said they were doing a PhD.

Moreover, doing a PhD seemed like an enigma to me. I had no idea why people wrote, even when barely anyone read their thesis! Now that I am doing a PhD, I think it is essential that I write about what it means to do research.

I want to keep this blog as a pinned article, listing all the articles I will be writing about how research works throughout the period. It will be helpful for all those who wish to understand what it means to do research.

While there may be other resources around similar topics on Google, my blog will contain a tinge of my own experiences with each topic as I (learn to) grapple with academia.

I am writing this research guide to help all those who may have wanted to know what it means to do research before venturing into it or thinking about it.

A caveat: I am no expert, so please treat these essays as experiential writings. Moreover, most of these topics are skewed towards qualitative research. Therefore, I recommend you to read others for quantitative research.

A Guide to Research in International Politics

  1. Methods and Methodology in International Relations
  2. How do you work with archival documents?
  3. How do you start a research project?
  4. How do you write your research project?
  5. What is the difference between references and a bibliography?
  6. What are the different citation formats?
  7. List of online archival databases containing the primary sources on India.
  8. How do you work with primary sources?
  9. List of online (blog) resources on National Archives of India and Pradhanmatri Sangrahalaya (former NMML), New Delhi.
  10. How to work with archives in India?  
  11. How to connect with others in Academia?
  12. How to write a PhD research proposal for Indian universities?

Some of these articles draw heavily on Marc Trachtenberg’s The Craft of International History: A Guide to Method, which I have benefited immensely from since reading. I recommend that you read it. The aforementioned articles are a tribute to his efforts to teach young scholars (like me) how to do research.

A Guide to Sending Your Articles to Journals

  1. How do you write your research article?
  2. How do you narrow your research topic?
  3. How do you create a research puzzle?
  4. How to critically read for your literature review?
  5. How do you critically write your literature review?
  6. How do you send your articles to research journals?
  7. How do we deal with rejections?
  8. A practical guide to research & writing book reviews.

These articles heavily rely on two or more research articles around these ideas. It will also be based on my experiences dealing with these elements. I will, however, in the end, refer you to other resources where you will be able to better grapple with these scholarly ventures. My experience in these topics is limited. However, I wish to provide you with an understanding of how to overcome a junior scholar’s struggles, even as I learn and fail.

A Guide to Increasing Productivity in Research

  1. How to use Zotero for Academic Research?
  2. How to Create an Academic CV?
  3. How do you use databases and archives to find relevant sources?
  4. How to use Notion for writing every day?
  5. Helpful Productivity Tools for Academics
  6. How to use Twitter as an Academic?

This research guide will focus on how, as an academic/student, we can learn to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technological tools to do research. Therefore, these articles will provide an essential outlook on increasing productivity in their research.

The lists of methods in this guide are not exhaustive but comprehensive. I hope these articles, as and when I write them, will help you to be a better academic, a scholar—and, more importantly, a better person. These articles will be written over the next few weeks. Therefore, keep a tab on this blog 🙂

PS: comment below if you want me to write a blog on any topic/article other than the aforementioned articles.


This website and the newsletter (fuzzy notes) have been a labour of love. While they are free to access (and will continue to be free), they are not free to create. I spend significant time researching, writing, and proofing every article I publish here, apart from all the logistical aspects of buying and managing the domain and hosting plans. Each article is written meticulously to help fellow readers (such as yourself) get the best knowledge, which is also witty and articulate in this outlook. You may reach out to me at [email protected] (and tell me what you liked about the essay you may have just read or if you want me to write on anything you wish to read). If you have benefitted from reading articles on my website and the newsletter, consider buying me a coffee (as a token of love and appreciation ♥). If you cannot do so now, it’s okay! (understandably, each of us has our problems to deal with every day.) You can still do something else: share the article with someone who may like it.



4 thoughts on “A Comprehensive Guide to Research in Politics and International Relations”

  1. I’m in awe of this project, so very useful.
    And if I may, could you add a section discussing sustenance in Academia (Financial and otherwise), highlighting different career opportunities within academia or IR, particularly for beginners? Regardless, thank you so for the comprehensive guide.

    1. Thanks a lot, Rupal. I am somewhat sceptical about adding a section there, at least for now, because my experiences are really nascent. But, maybe, I can contribute from that very vantage point — of being an inexperienced academic navigating through the rough terrain of publication and writing.

    1. Thank you, Cheryl. Learning, I suppose, is a lifelong act. I hope I have been able to add some value to your knowledge and understanding, which I am sure would be expansive.

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