The systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions
— The Oxford Dictionary
Before We Begin
As the Oxford Dictionary puts it, the noun “research” stands for “a systematic investigation of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions”. So why do we do it anyway? Unfortunately, the answers to that are countless. So we’re just going to tell you this: It’s really up to you to decide how much you want to learn at a conference. And by doing your research properly, you are making it certain that you’ll be learning lots from your next conference.
We know it is impossible to memorize all of the information you’re about to read (we really do know). We also know that it is impossible to print out every document you’ve used in your research, because 1. that wouldn’t be eco-friendly and 2. that would be a waste of money 3. how is a person supposed to bring 100 pages of research papers to a conference anyway?
Thus we would suggest you to compile your own document, which should consist of concise notes and bullet points that list out information you’ll be using throughout the conference. You’ll be doing both Mother Earth and your wallet a favor by doing this!
Researching Your Topic
It is good to know your committee well, because it is necessary to know the committee’s aims and functions in order to do topic research. Why do we say this? Because though some committees might discuss the same topic, different committees have different priorities and mandate. Meaning, the approach to the same issue could be entirely different for two committees. Are you convinced? Well, we’re going to give you tips on how to research your committee anyway.
Knowing a committee’s mandate and methods it’s taken before to solve a problem are great ways to get to know how a committee runs.
Don’t try to dive into the next step before you’re sure you understand how your committee functions and executes its work first!
Here are some websites to guide you for researching your committee:
- The Official website of the United Nations <http://www.un.org/en/index.html>
- Your committee’s official page
You can also check out our UN structure page to learn more about how your committee fits into the UN structure.
Now before you move on to the next part of your research, take some time to read the background guide, or chair report (that your chair worked so hard on to finish. Seriously.). We are asking you to do this because background guides usually show the particular issues your chair wishes you to focus on throughout the conference. By knowing what aspects of the issues the chair wants you to focus on, it’d be easier for you to research. Here’s a tip on how to find that “message” your chair left you: ask yourself questions while reading the background guide, such as: What is the main purpose of this sentence? Which topics recur throughout the guide?”
We’d also suggest you to take notes while reading the background guide. By synopsizing long paragraphs into concise language, you’ll have no problem keeping track.
Now, finally, let’s get started on your topic research. Where do we start? Truth: If you had read the background guide thoroughly and taken efficient notes, you should know your priorities – which are different for each individual. So now go ahead and check out the listed websites below.
Tip: This stage of research is usually the most trickiest because aside from looking for information regarding the issue, you should also simultaneously be searching for ways to solve it. So keep this in mind as you do research and use the resources you have wisely!
- UN Statistical Division <http://unstats.un.org/unsd/default.htm>
- The World Bank <http://www.worldbank.org/>
- Center for Global Development <http://www.cgdev.org/>
- UN Global Issues <http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/>
Ready for some more advanced research? Go ahead and browse the UN’s past resolutions!
- The Official Documents System of the UN <http://documents.un.org/>
- Research Documents Guide <http://research.un.org/en/docs>
Congradulations! We hope that this guide has helped you with your topic research! Anyhow, we’re sure that Google is your best friend by now. (We don’t blame you, Google is on our best-friends list too.)
Researching Your Country
Now that you’re familiar with how your nation works and an expert on your topic, it is the time to research your nation’s view & position on the topic.
When conducting research on a country, you want to be sure that you know all the details to its background before you delve into its perspective on one specific topic. For instance, what major events took place within the past few decades? What role did it play during WW2? Which countries are its allies? Which type of industry is the strongest in the nation? Who is the current president? What are some of the biggest challenges the government is currently facing? What makes your country irreplaceable in this world?
You should have been able to answer the above questions if you had studied hard enough; if you weren’t confident about answering most of the questions, we would suggest you to read some more articles!
The information you collect at this stage should be very fundamental and basic – and when you finish this step, you should be able to imagine what it would be like to live in this country. Take notes because we know you’ll forget all this information shortly. (We really do know.)
Here are a couple of websites to help research your country’s information:
- The CIA Factbook <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/>
- New York Times <http://www.nytimes.com/>
- International Monetary Fund <http://www.imf.org/external/index.htm>
p.s. Wikipedia is a great website with lots of resources and information, but we would not recommend you to use that website while doing research because not all the information are verified.
Is the country’s sovereignty being violated due to this issue? Has your country passed any legislation regarding the topic? How is the problem influencing the nation? What actions have been taken? Has your country collaborated with another nation to come up with a solution? The answers to all these questions should help you understand the position your country takes on the issue.
We note that the most efficient way to research your country’s position on a topic is to look up its legislations or past speeches it’s made regarding the topic (you can do this by searching the speech index website provided below).
Here are some websites we recommend for your advanced research:
- Your nation’s homepage (Don’t worry if your country’s official language isn’t English, almost all nations have an English version of their website)
- UN Member states status <http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/unms/cms.shtml#uMemStates>
- The World Bank <http://www.worldbank.org/>
- The Economist (and other news websites) <http://www.economist.com/>
For even more advanced research, check out these websites:
- Voting record <http://unbisnet.un.org:8080/ipac20/ipac.jsp?profile=voting&menu=search&submenu=power#focus>
- Speech index <http://unbisnet.un.org:8080/ipac20/ipac.jsp?profile=speech&menu=search>
Congradulations! Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of your country’s information, you should be able to compose speeches that correspond to your nation’s policies. Good luck!
Sites We Love
Here are some other websites that we love. Check them out – we’re sure you’ll love them too!
- The NMUN delegate handbook: This prep guide here from NMUN has an overabundance of tips to help delegates prepare for a conference <http://nmun.org/downloads/NMUNDelegatePrepGuide.pdf>
- Best Delegate – Best Delegate is a website with lots of fun articles and good advice for delegates. They also host institutes for students all over the world in the summer! <http://bestdelegate.com/>
- MunPlanet – MunPlanet is full of interesting quizzes and amusing posts – a great getaway for you when you need to take a break from reading all those documents! <http://www.munplanet.com/#home>
What comes next after you’ve done all your research? You’re probably panicking now, because you feel like you just spent a ton of your precious time, collecting information you’re not sure what to do with. If this sounds like you, fear not, because there’s still a lot of work to be done! Here’s a flowchart to guide you through the rest of the conference-prepping process:
Pick a strategy(role) to play throughout the conference: This is the part where you decide what strategy to use in the conference room. This decision may be affected by factors such as your personality, the country you’re representing, the topic, or even the size of the committee. Some common roles: The power delegate, brave and bold and has dominance over the entire committee whenever he/she speaks. The goody-goody delegate, who pretends to agree to everything others have to say, but in fact has other plans in mind. The mediator, who tries to resolve conflicts between blocs. When you draft your speeches later, don’t forget to keep your strategy in mind!
Brainstorm ideas to tackle problem: If you’re stumped, that’s OK. Because if coming up with ideas to solve a global issue is easy, why would Global Warming still be an issue today? Both past resolutions and think tanks are good references if you’re stuck, so use the internet wisely!
Write down ideas in full sentences: Do this so that when you explain your idea to others, they are well organized and coherent. This is a sentence. We’re pretty sure you knew that. We’re also pretty sure that you know how to write one yourself. So we’ll just leave you to that now.
Write position paper: You can read more about how to write a position paper here. (If you’re preparing for a THIMUN conference, you should skip this step. Delegates are not required to submit position papers for THIMUN conferences.)
Draft speeches: We would recommend you to at least draft three speeches before the conference, and continue drafting them as the conference progresses, so that you are always prepared to deliver a speech. You can read more about giving speeches here.
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