As part of Professor Gray’s research team during the summer, I worked with nine other students on collecting data on various regional organizations located all around the world. There are several goals of the research. The research aims to provide a thorough, systematic database of all regional economic organizations throughout the world. To do so, the other students and I created chronological timelines detailing the activities of each organization, and each timeline includes extensive references to where we found the information. In order to collect the information, we learned how to effectively use LexisNexis, an online news database, as well as how to utilize other various resources, including the library system and other online academic databases. We also created spreadsheets for each organization that categorize the activities recorded in the timelines. Professor Gray will then use the information recorded in the spreadsheets to assess a variety of research questions. Prominently, the depth of information that the timelines and spreadsheets provide will help overcome previous limitations of political science research into the effectiveness and status of regional economic organizations. Whereas before political scientists classified international organization as ‘working’ or ‘not working’ based on simply whether the international organization exists or not due to the lack of information, now Professor Gray will be able to more accurately gauge the effectiveness of any given international organization and international organizations as a whole. Moreover, the data will hopefully help answer why certain regional organizations fail, either by ceasing to exist completely, or becoming inactive. In total, the big question of the research is how do international organizations work?
Throughout the duration of the project, I gained insight into the research process and learned valuable lessons from our mentor, Professor Gray. Professor Gray not only discussed the project, but also talked about her experience in graduate school, what to consider when thinking about graduate school, and her experience in academia. By doing the research, I learned interesting and valuable information about various international organizations, such as the Latin American Integration Association, the Andean Community, and the Arab Maghreb Union. Further, by participating in the project, I got an inside look at the cutting edge of political science research – research that complements the material taught in the courses that I have taken, am taking, and will take.
Overall, I enjoyed working on Professor Gray’s research project. Aside from the research, which is obviously important and interesting, I got to meet nine cool people that share my passion in politics and international affairs. In the span of a few short weeks, we became friends and bonded not only by a shared interest in politics, but also in a shared interest in the world cup, music, and dining at different spots on campus. Also, I have to shout out Professor Gray. Even though this is my first time on a research project, I think it is fair to say that a research project is only as good as the person who heads it. Thank you for the donuts and chocolates. And thank you CURF for the opportunity to be a part of an awesome experience.