How to Research
So congratulations! You’ve joined a Model UN and have been assigned a country to represent. Maybe it’s a country you know well, maybe it’s a country you’ve heard of, but don’t know that much about, maybe it’s a country you’ve never even heard of before. Whatever the case may be, you need to research, make sure the information you have is correct, up to date, and has everything you need to debate the topic at hand.
What to look for?
You should start with the general data first. If you are give a well-known country like the US or Russia, you might already know the answer to these questions, but that’s not always the case:
- Where is your country (on the globe)?
- Who are your neighboring countries?
- What’s your relationship with your neighbors?
- What sort of government does your country have? What type of regime?
- Are there any valuable resources your country has?
- How strong is your countries military? How often was it used?
- What is your country most known for?
Once you’ve covered that, you can start going deeper. Find out more about your country, its economy, its politics, its agenda and its international status. These questions will probably require some work even if you thought you knew the country well. You might be surprised.
- How stable is your country’s government?
- How stable is your country’s economy?
- What type of industry is most important to your economy? What are your main exports/imports?
- Who are your biggest trade partners?
- Who are your biggest allies?
- Who are your foes?
- What issues does your country try to push on the global agenda? What countries share your views on these issues?
- hat countries oppose them?
- Is your country's general agenda affected by religion? How so?
- Is your country a member of a group (for example: NATO, G20, European Union)? How strong is your affiliation with that group?
Once you know your country well, you should look into the topics you'll discuss. Again, you might think you know a lot about a certain topic, but it pays to look deeper, and try and see things from your country's viewpoint. The questions leading you should always come back to your country:
- How does the topic affect your country?
- Has your country taken part in a previous discussion about this topic? How did it act then?
- What outcome of the discussion would work best for your country?
- What outcome, if any, of the discussion must your country prevent at all costs?
- What outcome of the discussion would your country be willing to settle on?
- How are your allies likely to vote? How will your foes?
Where to look for Information:
We've listed some useful links (LINK) for you to browse, but even in this day and age of information, it's still important to know how to sift through those bits of information, and find what you need. Here are a few handy tips that will make searching the web much more useful:
START WITH THE DRY FACTS
Many times your starting point is just finding simple facts like your country's location or its main export. This is where sites like the CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia excel. They can help you cover a lot of basic information, and give you a first idea on how your country acts and what it cares about. They do have their limit, though, which brings us to the second tip:
KNOW THE LIMIT OF WIKIPEDIA
We're not going to tell you Wikipedia should not be used at all. It is one of the greatest human endeavors and can be quite useful – but it can be shallow, and sometimes even misleading. It might help to look up your own native country on Wikipedia to get a sense of how imprecise it can get. Don't use Wikipedia for in-depth analysis, or build your case based on information you find there. If you wish to go deeper, the best Wikipedia can do for you is in the references section: In there you'll usually find useful links that can help you move forward with your research.
You should spend some time surfing your country’s official websites, getting to know it better and the issues it deals with. Not all formal government website are good, some can be quite primitive, but almost all should have an English website letting you know what’s going on in the country. You should also check to see if the UN ambassador to your country has a blog or have written any editorials, as they can be great sources for information.
GOOGLE WITH CAUTION
Google is a powerful tool. It’s also confusing. Like Wikipedia, the results you’ll get can be a bit shallow at times, and you may even come up with results that are completely false. You’re going to have to click each link an check it out to see if it has any value and also be sure to base your information on at least two sources. Use searching tools to get the best results. Searching “YOUR COUNTRY+TOPIC” can help you find out what your country thinks about a topic. “YOUR COUNTRY+UN” can give you insight to representing your country in Model UN sessions.
USE THE NEWS (WISELY)
Using Google, you might come across news articles about your country. Always remember that no one news source is capable of giving the whole picture and that the more news sources you have, the better your understanding of the world (this is also true outside of Model UN). You should make sure that what you are reading is a news article, and not opinion or editorials, before you read.
THE UN CAN ONLY HELP UP TO A POINT
You should at least try to draw information from UN websites when possible, but they can get confusing. Some are better than others, but a lot of the UN’s publications are written as legal documents, and soothe can be quite hard to follow without falling asleep. Read what you can, and make up for the hard to understand parts by making a list of key phrases you can search later on other means.