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Political Risk Assessment

Supporting the Leadership and Democracy Lab

Political Risk Assessment

Welcome and Introduction

 This guide is designed to assist you as you conduct research on political risk assessment.

Research Process - Authority

When starting the research process it is important to ask yourself several questions about authority, or the influence that a certain piece of information might have. 

  • Who would have an interest in disseminating the information (generating data, writing a commentary, offering an opinion, conducting a study...) on the topic?
  • What would be the purpose or goal of an individual or organization in disseminating information on the topic (to inform, to convince, to communicate, to persuade, to sell, to understand...?)
  • How was the information produced? And, where might the person or organization disseminate the information (platform, venue, organization...?)

And most importantly,

  • Why do you want that information, what is your purpose (a blog posting, a research essay, a risk analysis study, a dissertation)?

Answers to these questions will help you to determine the best place to look for the sources.

Credibility = Trustworthiness

The credibility or trustworthiness of a resource depends on where it comes from, what it was used for, and how you intend to use it. That is, credibility depends on the context.

You might have a need for current information from a relatively unsophisticated source.  For example, you might look for a weather report or a tourism brochure to determine today if you will spend next week in Mexico.  However, a tourism brochure would be insufficient if you wanted to understand the risks associated with starting a new business in Mexico in the next fiscal year. Your particular need for the information will determine the needed authority or credibility.

Finding a scholarly article on the topic would certainly be effective and is very credible. A scholarly, peer reviewed journal would be an excellent platform to search.  However, an established organization studying political risk in Mexico might use other means to disseminate, based on their goal of the dissemination.  For example, they might use Twitter or a Blog to disseminate information on the topic that is of a more urgent nature (they want to get the information out now, in response to some current event).

Scholarly Articles (yes) - Blog, Twitter feed, other (perhaps)

You must, however, remain skeptical and assess the content:  what was the purpose, where did it come from? What is the context?

It may not matter that it is a Tweet or a Blog posting or a website as long as you can determine where it comes from, how it was produced (and by whom), that you you have assessed its credibility, and it suits your purpose.  Remember to ask relevant questions about origins, context, as well as the suitability for your information need.

There are different types of authority, all of which may be useful depending on your purpose.  An individual may have authority that is defined by his/her subject expertise (e.g., scholarship), by his/her position in a society or organization (e.g., public office or title), or by virtue of some special experience (e.g., was a particpant in a historic event - a primary source).

Background Information

A good first step would be to search for some reliable background information (context).

Check the country profiles guides, encyclopedias on the Political Science Research Guide pages.

Selected resources:

  • Scholarly Literature: Scholarly Books and Peer reviewed or refereed journals
  • Grey Literature: Governments, Think Tanks, Research Institutes, Businesses, Universities
  • Popular, consumer or trade publications:  News Services, trade journals, special interest magazines
  • Social Media: Blogs, web sites, twitter feeds (TweetDeck), Instagram ...



Federated web  searching: Custom Google Search Engines

Learn advanced Google search skills to search domains, document type, limited by date.

Statistics and Data

Institutional Repositories:

e.g., Scholarship@Western

News Sources:


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Christy Sich
The D.B. Weldon Library

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