Have a clear research question,Introduce a clear argument in response to the research question, and identify at least one possible competing argument,Demonstrate careful engagement with course readings and key themes, concepts, and/or examples that we have covered,Thoughtfully consider what kind of sources, evidence, or data would be needed to evaluate your argument against possible competing arguments,Be well-written, sensibly organized, and demonstrate a considerable amount of outside research, andShow creative, original thinking.Clarify why you think this is an important question for those studying MENA politics, or perhaps for those studying politics, in general. If this is a question that other authors have already tried to answer: what remains unresolved, or incomplete, in existing analyses? Why do we need to arrive at a better answer to this question? If this is a new question: why is this question important to address?Identify at least two, rival theories (also referred to as “arguments”) that one could have in response to your research question.For example, imagine that your research question is: “Did international involvement prolong the Syrian civil war?” (This is just an example.)A fully developed theory would not simply state: “Yes, international involvement prolonged the war.” It should tell us how or why. For example, one argument might be:“International involvement prolonged the Syrian civil war by increasing the military capacity of rebel groups to challenge the Syrian government. As a result, these rebel groups were harder to defeat and the war has lasted longer than it otherwise would have, without international involvement.”Note that this theory, whether you agree with it or not, is more detailed about the connection between cause and effect.Using the example above, notice how the phrase “longer than it otherwise would have” brings to mind a comparison to what would have happened in Syria under different circumstances. This is why our theories – even when they are only about a single country, event, or moment in time – are usually comparative. You are “comparing” to a case that never happened (also known as the “counterfactual”). Comparisons help us understand cause and effect.Think carefully about what kind of sources, evidence, or data you would ideally use to attempt to answer your research question. If you could access anything in the world to test your argument, what would it be? For example, would you look at government speeches or statements, historical maps, interviews, official statistics published by governments, public opinion polls, or something else?What makes for good sources, evidence, or data? One thing to consider is whether this evidence helps you weigh your two, rival arguments against each other. How can you effectively use evidence to adjudicate between these two theories?You might not have access to your ideal sources, evidence, or data, but use what you can in your paper to assess the two arguments. See below for some recommendations on outside sources.Here is a short video tutorial from me on researching outside sources.Other sources of news and analysis include: The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and Al Jazeera. MENA-specific English-language sources include: Al-Monitor; Atlantic Council’s MENASource; The New Arab; Jadaliyya, and Carnegie’s Diwan blog. There are, of course, many more sites depending on your countries/topics of interest. If you have questions about the reputability, reliability, or potential biases of a particular source, do not hesitate to ask me for input.Lexis Nexis Academic. Good source of news archives, including sources from MENA countries. Can be found through the CCNY library website by browsing to databases under “L”. https://library.ccny.cuny.edu/az.php.CIA World Factbook. Basic encyclopedic information on each country. https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/.Arab Barometer. A set of regular public opinion polls conducted across MENA countries. See especially their data analysis tool, where you can look at what citizens say about a range of issues across countries, over time, and across different subgroups of society: http://www.arabbarometer.org/survey-data/data-analysis-tool/World Bank Development Indicators. Extensive dataset, updated annually, containing country-level data related to economic and social development (please let me know if you need help navigating the website): http://databank.worldbank.org/data/source/world-development-indicatorsHuman rights reports from Human Rights Watch (https://www.hrw.org/) and Amnesty International (https://www.amnesty.org/en/).The many United Nations agencies and bodies each collect their own data. Depending on your focus, you can start here: http://data.un.org/Partners.aspx.Freedom House releases a set of annual reports, including the “Freedom in the World” report, that attempts to monitor political freedoms and civil liberties around the world: https://freedomhouse.org/reportsInstitute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Various databases pertaining to elections and features of elections across countries worldwide, including electoral systems, the use of gender quotas, etc. https://www.idea.int/data-toolsPleaseuse 3 other scholarly sources, certain scholarly websites are available.