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Research sources in international relations

Author(s): Gonzalo de Salazar Serantes

Journal: Revista CIDOB d'Afers Internacionals
ISSN 1133-6595

Issue: 64;
Start page: 193;
Date: 2003;
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Keywords: Teoría relaciones internacionales | investigación

The aim of this article is to deal with the problem currently posed in the field ofinternational relations by a research method still based on systematically resorting to “citing authority”. A significant number of political scientists deal with internationalreality and political phenomena by means of an adaptation of the technique of analysing the contents of texts that other researchers have previously produced. This practice of mediaeval origin also asserts itself in projects carried out by doctoral students, contributing to a paralysis in research and to approaches that often stray from reality through an unavoidable tendency to lag: in having to turn to preceding citations to support a statement, the researcher is forced to go back in time, and to move away from the phenomenon that he/she is trying to study. Often, the authoritative citations supplant the primary souces of the study and cover up, with a myriad of footnotes, the absence of direct contact with the phenomena that is intended to be studied, resorting principally to citing books andarticles published earlier on the same issue by other writers. On many occasions, the analysis, restructuring and combination of others’ texts as the “research method” –although they are faithfully reflected as “references cited”—replaces true field work by the researcher and avoids the effort necessary for analysing reality in an attempt to understand its phenomena through empirical procedures.
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