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The insecurity of doing research and the ‘so what question’ in political science: how to develop more compelling research problems by facing anxiety
Stockholms universitet, (SWE).
Swedish Defence University, Department of Political Science and Law, Political Science Division.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7495-055X
2023 (English)In: European Political Science, ISSN 1680-4333, E-ISSN 1682-0983, p. -15Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Research problems are crucial in the sense that they provide new research with purpose and justification. So why, despite the abundance of guidance available from an extensive methods literature, do graduate students often struggle to develop compelling research problems? This article argues that the process of developing research problems epitomises the insecurity of doing research. We focus in particular on the anxiety that graduate students often seek to avoid or alleviate through a range of counterproductive coping strategies. The existing literature on research problems focuses predominantly on the technical aspects of doing research while neglecting how anxiety might affect the research process. This article seeks to rectify this shortcoming by providing advice on how graduate students can face such anxiety, and how professors can assist them in this endeavour. Drawing on theories about identity and anxiety, the article explains the allure of coping strategies such as gap-filling, while arguing that anxiety is not necessarily a negative emotion to be avoided at all costs, but integral to learning and creativity. It concludes by suggesting that compelling research problems can be constructed through the formulation of narratives that try to embrace anxiety, instead of seeking premature resolutions. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023. p. -15
Keywords [en]
Anxiety, Emotion, Identity, Insecurity, Narrative, Research problem
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-11865DOI: 10.1057/s41304-023-00448-3OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-11865DiVA, id: diva2:1803954
Available from: 2023-10-11 Created: 2023-10-11 Last updated: 2024-02-07

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Hagström, Linus

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard-cite-them-right
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
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  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf