Franz Martin Wimmer: 



Please answer the following questions:

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 initial problem.

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 be useful?
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 research work?
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 or inter-disciplinary?
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.

This text has been adapted by Prof. Martina Kaller-Dietrich from the German version of Franz M. Wimmer.

copyright Martina Kaller-Dietrich, Institut für Geschichte, Universität Wien 2005

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