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Political Science

This guide was developed for students and faculty engaged in political science and international relations research.

Resources for local government internship

Tips for searching databases

First, a few definitions:

  • Scholarly journal articles are written by experts for experts in a field and have gone through a peer-review process.
  • Trade or professional articles are written for practitioners in a field.  Articles can be written by experts, journalists, or other practitioners.
  • Popular articles (magazines, newspapers) are written for a general audience, not specialists.

Here is a summary of what we practiced during the class session on 2/18/2016.  Links to the two class handouts are below.

Step 1: Construct a search strategy.

  • State your question as a sentence.
  • Identify key concepts that must be present in the information source; use the connector and.
  • Consider related terms that might be used for a key concept; use the connector or.
  • Use truncation symbol for word variations; use an * (asterisk) or most databases; Lexis/Nexis uses ! (exclamation mark).
  • Use “ “ (double quotation) for phrases.   Don’t overuse phrase searching.  Consider proximity connectors for phrase variation: n# or w#.

Step 2: Determine the type of information your need.

Use the Library Catalog (except for Web/Internet)

  • Books
    • Historical, scholarly, research, summary and in-depth
  • Encyclopedias & Dictionaries
    • Background/overview, key ideas/concepts, definitions
  • Government Publications
    • Research, primary, statistics


Use a library database

  • Journals
    • Scholarly, research, in-depth, bibliography
  • Magazines
    • Current, popular culture, opinions, summary
  • Newspapers
    • Current events, popular, opinions
  • Trade/Professional
    • Practitioner perspective, trends, products, techniques

Use Internet search tool (Google, Bing, etc.)

  • Web/Internet
    • Current, expert and popular opinion

Use Google Scholar

  • Journals
    • Scholarly, research, in-depth, bibliography

Step 3: Evaluate your information using the CAARP model.  

  • Use the Cite Your Sources tab on the left to review applying the CAARP model to journal articles.  Consider using Zotero as a way to store and manage your citations.

Step 4: To organize your references, consider creating a ProQuest My Research account.