I met with my mentor, Professor Jennifer Poole of the School of International Service, on September 3 at 4:00 PM. At the meeting, she and I began by discussing our various research interests and our background. We only had about 10 minutes due to her busy schedule, so we were not able to cover all that we both would have liked (we are meeting again early next week). She began by discussing her previous work as a Senior Economist to the Council of Economic Advisors to the Obama administration and later the World Bank. From what I was able to gather, her research has been almost entirely focused on neo-positivist analyses of economics. Whereas going into the meeting I had the impression she principally researched demand-side/labor economics, I later found out that her research is much more diverse and there is not one specific universal factor, except that it often involves the Brazilian economy.
My primary concern and question was finding an approach to research methods from which I could launch into my project. Currently both my topic and method are much too broad, and while I can fairly easily reduce my methods, my topic will likely be more difficult. As of now, I am attempting to design a (likely small-n due to that being my mentor’s expertise, but possibly interpretivist) project with the goal of connecting either Foreign Direct Investment or monetary investment with actual policy change in the assisted nation. Professor Poole then encouraged me to find an area of study, particularly one state or institution who has influenced a wide range of subjects, such as the United States, IMF, or EU. Within this framework, she explained, I will still have a plethora of potential cases available to study, leaving room for any form of research method. Because of this help I found the order from which I should begin my research, first by finding a specific set of similar instances and then drawing either a neo-positivist hypothesis or interpretivist inference to be explored.