1. Initial Problem: Which (theoretical, practical, social) series of
questions is the starting point of your work?
Comment: The initial problem is not identical to the title of the
research work. The research work can also deal with only a part of the
2. Question: What is the concrete research question to which your work
should provide a scientific answer?
Comment: It is recommendable to try and formulate such a research
question in regard to different addressees. How would you formulate the
research question vis-à-vis your academic colleagues, children,
parents or relatives, fellow students?
3. Research Interest: Why did you choose this topic, what motivates you
for this research work?
Comment: Behind some motivations there are risks which one should be
aware of. For example, questions relating very closely to your own
identity could contain the danger that one loses the necessary
distance, which consequently reduces the capability of judgment.
3. State of the Art: Which research into your topic has already been
done and how will your own contribution relate to it?
Comment: Knowledge of the relevant literature is indispensable. The
answer to the first question therefore has to show that (electronically
and otherwise available) libraries have been consulted.
5. Own theoretical position: On the grounds of which theory shall your
question be posed and why? Are there other approaches and what are the
reasons for your choice?
Comment: Almost no research work can be dealt with in only one manner.
The decision for one theoretical position therefore is always a
decision against other positions. It is necessary to argue such a
decision through showing why the position you chose is preferable to
others, or, possibly, why some of them should be combined.
6. Aim: Which results should the research work have? For whom should it
Comment: Who really is affected by the problem or question you are
posing and would like to answer? What has to be done in order for those
possible addressees to find your work useful?
7. Previous work: Which of your previous written work could be used for
the new research? In which way will this already pre-structure your new
Comment: It could be rewarding to go over your own work before starting
a bigger new research; sometimes the own biography reveals an inner
relation which in everyday life often is forgotten.
8. Methodology: Which working steps and which approaches should lead to
the desired results? Which methods are available within the discipline
Comment: Is it, for example, necessary to conduct a study of sources?
Is this sufficient? Which investigations or results of which
disciplines have necessarily to be consulted, which should sensibly be
consulted? How are they available to you?
9. Sources: Which sources are available and which do you want to work
with? In which form are they available to you?
Comment: This is an important question for historical research.
“Availability” in this sense has an objective and a subjective
component. If one’s topic, for example, deals with Mexican history, one
might need sources which are not available in Austria; but one
(subjectively) might also need to be capable in terms of language in
order not to have to rely just on translations.
10. Extent of material- and literature research: Which limits do you
want to set for your research of literature and sources?
Comment: Only few topics in Global Studies can be treated under the
assumption that one could gain an overview over the whole worldwide
available literature. Therefore a reflected delimitation is necessary.
11. Preliminary analysis or evaluation of sources: How are you going to
evaluate the sources?
Comment: Reflect on which analyses of your sources already exist and
how your analysis relates to or differs from them.
12. Timetable: Until when should the most important steps of your
research work be completed? Which external factors could cause a change?
Comment: A realistic timetable can help avoid stress. Plan on enough
time especially for the final phase (correction, submission, evaluation
etc.) – an early inquiry with other people concerned (like advisors,
review committee, administrations) might be worth it!
13. Financial needs: Which costs of materials, travels, counseling and
guidance will arise?
Comment: The more detailed you know which expenditures your research
work requires, the more target-oriented and exact can the necessary
resources (and sometimes scholarships) be activated.
14. Preliminary structure: How could you structure your materials at
the beginning of the research work?
Comment: The table of contents cannot be composed early enough, even if
it surely will change during the course of the research. Only remaining
glued to it, becoming inflexible, is dangerous.