How to Resarch for a MUN Conference
Kevin Roe — Secretary General
September 10, 2019
What are they?
The level of enjoyment from delegating at a Model United Nations conference is often directly proportional to the amount of research a delegate does before the conference. One's level of preparation before the conference determines the ability for one to participate during the discussion and understand what other delegates are saying. Moreover, when selecting awards, a Director will usually choose the best-researched delegate over an unprepared delegate who has good rhetoric. The PacificMUN Secretariat team noticed that a delegate's level of research reflects on the delegate's knowledge on how to research rather than their effort in doing so. Therefore, we would like to share our expertise on the way to prepare for a MUN conference so delegates will be best prepared to discuss the pertinent topics discussed at PacificMUN 2020.
Even during the registration process, delegates are encouraged to conduct some preliminary research into committees and topics to apply for committees and countries that are interesting, relevant, and influential. Once a delegate has received their country assignment from the USG of Delegate Affairs, that delegate should do background research on said country. Looking at information such as a nation's human rights record, Gross Domestic Product, exports and imports, and diplomatic relations is an effective method to understand the country you will be representing. Websites such as the CIA World Factbook (www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/) or the Council of Foreign Relations website (www.cfr.org/) are useful tools to educate oneself about a particular nation.
After you have done preliminary research on your country, research your committee's topics before you read their respective backgrounders. Your Director, who has studied this topic for several weeks, understands the intricacies of the subject, and he or she may fail to simplify it for the delegates. Thus, to properly understand the Backgrounder and what your Director is trying to convey, it is imperative that a delegate does prior research. One can research the topic by searching up relevant keywords or looking up articles that describe the current situation of this issue. Ultimately, Backgrounders are meant to enhance and guide, not not replace, your independent research.
The PacificMUN Secretariat team recommends sources such as the New York Times (www.nytimes.com/), Al Jazeera (www.aljazeera.com/), or the Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com/) for reliable news sources. For information on more specific topics that do not concern current events, websites such as Wikipedia, and Encyclopedia Britannica (www.britannica.com) are good starting points. However, these sites should not be the only means to accumulate your knowledge on the topic as sources such as Wikipedia can be edited by anyone and can be unreliable. We also suggest not to limit yourself to these sources as these are only suggestions from the Secretariat team. Make sure to create a document of all the websites you have visited, and please develop summaries for each one so you can keep track of which website contains which information.
Next, please read over the Backgrounder carefully and try to understand the main points of debate. Your Director has spent countless hours attempting to synthesize several sources into one presentable Backgrounder. This Backgrounder presents the topic without bias and often provides a holistic view of the global issue. While reading the Backgrounder, take note of every relevant problem that you see in the Backgrounder. For example, on the topic of Transboundary Air Pollution, a potential problem is when countries fail to abide by the promises set by a climate accord. You can quickly identify these problems as Directors like to emphasize them throughout the Backgrounder either by explicitly stating them or grouping each issue into general themes. The Director has outlined several different problems in the Backgrounder, so please take time to read it over and find each issue.
Firstly, one should develop their country's stance. An excellent way to accomplish this is to research past actions taken by your nation. Creating your nation's position is crucial because it is a unique way to develop your country' stance for this topic using historical precedent. However, please understand that while a historical example is an effective method of understanding your nation, it is not entirely reliable as time progresses, countries often undergo drastic changes in matters such as domestic, and foreign policy.
After you have finished developing your country's position on each topic, write a single sentence to summarize your stance. Simplifying your research is a great way to check your understanding, and it helps you keep organized during the conference, and it helps you not to contradict your nation's foreign policy.
Finally, you should prepare the solutions that you will present during the conference. Developing logical and unique solutions are the best way to stand out during the conference. The problems document you should have created will be helpful when creating solutions, as it is essential to have a synthesized list of problems one can easily see. Using this list of issues, on a sheet of paper, brainstorm any possible solution for each issue, and try to come up with as many as you can. The quality of your idea is not vital at this stage, but it is crucial to continue writing down your solutions without stopping. After doing so, look over your sheet of paper and pick out specific ideas that match your foreign policy, and write it down on your research file. Then, develop your solution by considering what steps the international community should take to implement your solution successfully. If you are not content with any of your ideas, you can research past actions that were made by the international community to combat your identified problem, and think of ways to improve upon these resolutions. Once you have created approximately five other solutions not listed in the Backgrounder for each topic, you are well-prepared for the conference.
By creating a research file with all three components, you will be much better prepared for this MUN conference, and writing a position paper will be much more manageable.
After writing your position paper (please consult our Position Paper guide here) and submitting it to your committee email, you will be well prepared for PacificMUN 2020. If your delegation would like extra assistance, please contact [email protected]