Every MUNer is expected to conduct his/her research as part of preparation for a conference. Otherwise, your MUN career is done before you have even started the journey; but you do have a chance to improve down the road by using some good practices outlined below.
The Oxford Dictionary defines research as “the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions”. Being a university student is all about preparing for doing a proper research, and gaining knowledge that is useful for solving practical or theoretical problems.
Before going into nuts and bolts of an MUN-specific research, let’s go through some important elements of MUN research together.
Understanding your role as a delegate
You cannot start an MUN research until you don’t know your country or the committee. Nor can you do your research without knowing its purpose. The purpose of MUN research is to equip you with knowledge (and facts) necessary for writing Position Paper and Opening Speech (before session), participating in discussions and negotiations (in session) and Resolution Writing (session outcome).
When it comes to research, you eventually reap what you sow. The greater your knowledge the better the chances you are going to be a power-delegate. But there is more than that. Your MUN research can help you improve your performance in college or discover interesting career opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t know exist out there.
Looking for sources which are reliable, useful and objective
Any research process means a lot of searching, reading, and writing - both online and offline. With the hyper-production and ready-made availability of content on the Internet, it is important more than ever to use sources which are credible and useful.
Knowing how to critically value your sources is crucial. Most sources are available online (from newspapers to blogs to traditional academic journals), but you can still visit your university librarian and look for refereed journals and academic articles, or use the power of indexes and databases.
The instant availability of online sources is a two-edged sword. You can access the information quickly, but you have to know where to look and what sources to trust. Please avoid webpages which are not dated, or do not credit their sources. Also, check if an organization or a newspaper publishing the information is potentially biased on a certain issue. If you cannot find a relevant official source of information, then always try using reliable books, articles or news sources first.
For basic information on current events, start from news sources. Use a major Internet search engine (Google, Yahoo, etc) and look for news. For primary sources such as speeches, reports, resolutions, use the official United Nations and governmental websites. Then, you can try searching various tanks (but pay attention to their objectivity) for specialized thematic areas. For additional reference, use academic publications, books and articles.
Once you have figured out what sources to use, you should determine how to use those to fit your MUN needs.
In the next six articles (basic elements of MUN research, position paper writing, negotiation skills, resolution writing, rules of procedure and MUN research sources) that are part of our MUN Research Guide, we are going to provide our advice on how to successfully do pre-conference research and effectively use this practical knowledge in session.
Also, be sure to check out our free eBooks:
MUNPlanet eBook: "Becoming a Model UN Delegate - An Essential Guide Through the MUN World
MUNPlanet eBook on how to start a Model UN conference
Let us know about your MUN research practices and tricks in the comments section below.