Kelly's research interests surround political shocks and their impact on a variety of conflict and developmental outcomes at state and regional levels. She incorporates multi-level analysis and spatial elements in her work.
Her ongoing projects look at the impact of peacekeeping on post-conflict social welfare, evaluating the positive role humanitarian missions have with regard to human rights, and how DDR implementation may be a key influencer in post-war conditions.
Kelly is also part of an ongoing series of studies focused at a regional-level of analysis. Her work with Thomas J. Volgy, and Paul Bezerra looking at the effect of major power/regional power states on decreasing regional conflict, and increasing regional stability, has been published in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia, with additional pieces forthcoming.