Research Post #9: Final Mentor Meeting

My most recent meeting with my mentor, Professor Jennifer Poole, took place on December 9 at 2:50 for 25 minutes. To begin the meeting, I summarized my research since our last conference that took place just before the interpretivist research design was due. Since the beginning of my research with the Olson Scholars, my research has evolved greatly. In fact, Professor Poole even commented that there was very little that had anything to do with my original topic of international rent seeking. When I first began my research into national anthems, I was interested in how certain perceptions of national anthems have evolved  over time, or completely in the interpretivist world. My research has now shifted by making national anthems (or more precisely- the adoption of national anthems) my dependent variable, as I investigate the factors that lead to individual cases adopting their anthems.

I described to Professor Poole my preliminary findings in 206 and my methodological approach, a small-n typological case study, that I will use in 306. We talked about two of my most pressing concerns with my research design entering 306: 

  1. What a potential conclusion may look like
  2. How to address multivariate variability in my dependant variable

To answer my first concern, she recommended that I take more interest in how national anthems influence the case population. This was the original intent of my research, but difficulties in successfully and quantifiably analyzing public perception alongside a lack of uniform data across my cases prevented me from discussing this topic, at least through a neopositivist lens. However, she recommended that I create a “policy implications” section to display the public policy relevance of my research to a contemporary audience while using existing literature about anthem semiotics. To address the second concern, we came to an agreement that I need to all but eliminate the element of relative time from my research. Though there are certainly interesting aspects of the topic that can be drawn out by comparing the cases in terms of when each state adopted an anthem, she argued that controlling for a bivariate dependent variable would be incredibly difficult with such a small set of cases. Thus, I will likely only be discussing the comparative relativity of when each state adopted an anthem in my case selection section. 

My research will not require me dealing with human subjects, though it may require outside assistance in regards to enlisting help with translating government documents. Nevertheless, both Professor Poole and I seriously doubt that my research will require IRB approval for this project. Professor Poole and I discussed accessing archival holdings and full databases briefly, but she recommended I continue talking to Clement Ho about any databases I may need (it is doubtful that I will need physical access to anything more than the National Archives). 

Reading materials to prepare for 306 will primarily consist of secondary sources within my conceptual groupings. Professor Poole recommended that I expand the conceptual grouping of the bucket I have named Fascist Objectivism to fully elucidate and make myself able to describe the impact that it may have on other schools of thought in the topic area. She also recommended that I show restraint when assigning causality until I am certain regarding my sources since the variables require a deep analysis of their specific evolutionary path. (Such as the timeline of fascism within a case). 

In regards to questions I have going forward: I am most concerned with the two issues I mentioned earlier. Additionally, I wonder if some of my independent variables (such as the existence of a supranational anthem, which is measured by a dummy variable) are not nuanced enough to justify their selection in a case study. Finally, I also wonder about the use of the United States as an effective case. I am unsure about continuing its use in my final project, but the wide range of accessible literature about it thus far have convinced me to keep it in. 


RPP #2: Mentor Meeting

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.