Doing International Relations

Professor of Political Science and International Relations Andrea Ruggeri has added to his collection of graduate student resources with a new paper, co-authored with DPIR DPhil researcher Ross James Gildea, on common research pitfalls and possibilities in the field of International Relations.


In this chapter we offer some reflections, as well references for further study, for scholars engaged in research and knowledge production in the field of International Relations (IR), that is those “doing IR”. We may think of research methods as the strategies and tools that allow us to acquire knowledge about international relations. To make the most of the research techniques available to us, it is first useful to consider the objects of our study, as well as the nature of the disciplinary context in which knowledge production takes place. Understanding these elements gives rise to a set of important preliminary questions: What is the nature of IR, both as an area of inquiry and disciplinary practice? What are the purposes and aims of “doing” IR? How do we formulate a research question of value and develop a theory to answer it? What are some common pitfalls and fallacies when doing IR? Although it would be naïve to convey definitive answers – it is always tempting to prescribe instructions which align with one’s own preferences or habits – it is only with a firm understanding of the debates surrounding these questions that we as researchers can employ research methods productively. To align methods with our needs, we must understand what those needs are. We also believe it is necessary, prior to discussing methods fruitfully, to make explicit and examine certain assumptions – and relative fallacies – that may underly our work in the field.

‘It is our hope that this chapter illuminates some key issues facing scholars and will help make “doing IR” slightly less complicated.’ Ross James Gildea and Andrea Ruggeri.

Rules of Thumb series

‘Doing International Relations’ is the latest addition to an Andrea Ruggeri’s Rules of Thumb ‘Series’ for graduate students who are embarking on IR research projects and publications for the first time. The collection of resources and writing provides tips on getting published, as well as guidance on how to develop research questions and theories.

  • img01i
    S Acharya /
Publishers Website
Professor Andrea Ruggeri is Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Brasenose CollegeRoss James Gildea