For your politics and government term paper, consider writing about terrorism in America and the study of terrorism statistics and data. Many governmental and private research centers are conducting studies and compiling statistics for domestic terrorism in the U.S. and for international terrorism around the world.
For good research paper topics, you can mine these resources for information on what is terrorism, how prevalent is it, who is perpetrating it and where is it happening.
Rational choice theory of terrorism
Explained online at Psychlopedia, “The rational choice theory of terrorism” is a psychological theory saying that terrorists act from rational, calculated and conscious decisions rather than out of psychological disorders, such as depression, anxiety or schizophrenia, or pathological behavior. Various interviews with terrorist suspects revealed that perpetrators act in accordance with religious beliefs, to protect the welfare of their community, and to demonstrate prosocial, rather than antisocial, behavior. Moreover, many terrorists are educated and rational.
Limitations on the rational choice theory are that many attempts to fulfill sociopolitical goals are unachievable. Psychlopedia reports: “Crenshaw (2000), for example, maintains the goals of terrorists are sometimes implausible. Their acts, therefore, will not fulfill their goals—and, thus, cannot be regarded as a rational attempt to pursue these objectives. …The goals of terrorists might not be as tangible as overthrowing a government—but might merely, for example, correspond to recruitment of support or assistance to family members.”
Study on U.K. versus U.S. terrorism
Another topic for your term paper could be to discuss various ways of analyzing terrorism data. “Terror Data: US vs. UK” by Robin Simcox and Emily Dyer, published in World Affairs, July-August 2013, reveals that recent studies of terrorism data show that both countries experience similar acts of terror. Data of al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists in the U.S. and U.K. show that they are predominantly male and very young. Also discovered is they are mostly citizens, dispelling the assumption that they are transplants or immigrants.
In some respects, however, statistics differ. “American law enforcement agencies have a challenging task—especially compared to their UK counterparts in the fact that the diversity of the terror threat in America is significantly higher and therefore harder to locate and control,” wrote Simcox and Dyer. In the studies, U.S. offenders were from 28 different nationalities, compared to just 14 for the U.K. Another complication is that in the U.S., offenders lived in or operated from 26 different states, making the source of threats harder to predict.
Report on Terrorism Hot Spots
The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism is a research and education center at the University of Maryland established to study the causes and consequences of terrorism. In 2012, researchers for the consortium conducted a study of nearly forty terrorist attacks on American soil and found that a third took place in the urban areas of New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Washington, DC.
Analyzing information from its Global Terrorism Database, the consortium found that major cities “experienced the most attacks motivated by causes, ranging from left-wing and right-wing agendas to religious and nationalist ones, as well as some single-issue rationales,” according to “Terrorism ‘Hot Spot’ In United States Pinpointed In New Report,” by Andrea Stone, posted on the Huffington Post, January 31, 2012.
Databases for terrorism research
- National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism maintains the Global Terrorism Database, www.start.umd.edu/gtd/ – an open-source database including information on 113,000 terrorist events around the world from 1970 through 2013.
- Foreign Policy Research Institute, Center for the Study of Terrorism, www.fpri.org/research/terrorism – conducts analyses of terrorist organizations, motivations and operations to understand current threats and to provide policy guidance to government officials and private sector decision-makers.
- Center for Terrorism and Security Studies, http://www.uml.edu/Research/CTSS/default.aspx – facilitates scientific research, education and training to understand the evolution and complexity of domestic and foreign security challenges.
- Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Terrorism & Peace, www.jmu.edu/cistp/ – James Madison University center brings together academia, public policy officials and the intelligence community to discuss the complex problems of terrorism.
- Terrorism Research Initiative, http://www.terrorismanalysts.com/pt/index.php/pot/article/view/123/html – compiles a list of international institutes for terrorism research with information on programs, projects, locations and affiliated organizations.
For more information, check out Questia’s library on Terrorism.
What are some other ways to research terrorism?