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Political Science Research Guide


Most of the databases below default to Advanced Search. Type the term or terms you want to search in the search box on the right. Select where you want to search in the drop-down menu on the left. In Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, PAIS, and others, the default search on the left is Anywhere: searching the full text of the articles in the database, if available, as well as the record of the articles- the title, author, abstract (synopsis), subjects, etc.

Advanced Search searching in a nutshell:
- Use "double quotes" to search for a phrase: "civil war"
- * is a wildcard, will search forms of a term: africa* also searches african, africans, etc.
- There are two rows of search boxes in Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, PAIS. By default, your search terms in each row are connected with and; all of the terms have to show up together in the fulltext or in the record of an article in your search results. You can narrow your search by clicking Add a Row. The more rows, the more terms you search with and, the more specific your search becomes:
--- africa* and "civil war" is a less specific search, will pull up more articles, than: africa* and "civil war*" and women
- You can also combine alternative terms with or. It's simplest to combine them in the same search box. The more ors you use, the broader your search becomes, because any of the terms can appear in the fulltext or record of an article in your search results:.
--- africa* or congo* or zaire* retrieves more items than africa* alone


Search Tips: Advanced Search (is Easy)

Most of the databases below default to an Advanced Search. Advanced searching is not difficult. It just gives you more options, more flexibility in setting up your search. If you click into a database that defaults to basic search (just a single search box), clicking Advanced will give you better control over your search.

Type your search term or terms in the search box on the left (see the box above for making effective use of and, or, the wild card). In the drop-down menu on the left, instead of the default, Anywhere (or some databases will say All Fields, Keyword, etc.), you can select a specific field to search. Especially if you need something relatively specific, this is often a more productive search strategy. For example, if you're looking for articles by a certain author, type his/her "last name, first name" in the first search box and select the Author field in the drop-down to the left. In the second box, you could select to search Anywhere, in the in the Title, in the Abstract, etc.

If you're searching by topic, searching by the Subject field in the drop-down menu will give your search more focus, specificity. A good strategy is to start out with a well thought out Anywhere/keyword search. Then look at the records of the articles that you think will be helpful. You can click one of the subject headings and search just one subject, but often that's too broad, will get you hundreds, even thousands of articles. Instead, try a subject in the first search box, terms Anywhere in the second; or search two subjects; or a subject in the first search box and an author in the second. Try different combinations of terms and fields and see what works best for your research.


Databases for Political Science and Legal Research

To see the full list of databases, from the Libraries homepage, click on Databases under the Resources column.

The three most important databases for political science research are:

  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts: the key database for political science research; articles from 1909 to the present.
  • PAIS (Public Affairs Information Services): public policy broadly conceived; articles from 1915 to the present.
  • Westlaw: General news, law reviews, plus extensive legal material: state and federal laws, court decision, regulations, etc. All fulltext.

Other important Databases:

  • Exploring Race in Society: Both primary and secondary sources, covering the twentieth and twenty-first century.
  • HeinOnline: Every North American law review journal back to the first issue (for the most recent articles, use Westlaw Campus Research), plus a wide range of specialized legal, legislative databases, including, for example, Civil Rights & Social Justice and Voting Rights & Election Law.
  • LAPOP (Latin American Public Opinion Project) (2004 to present): Data from annual surveys of political and social attitudes, as well as economic and demographic characteristics.
  • Latinobarometro (1995 to present): Annual surveys. Data on political and social attitudes; economic and demographic characteristics.
  • Policy File: Public policy research reports from over 350 think tanks, advocacy groups, etc.
  • PolicyMap: An online data and mapping application. More than 10,000 variables relating to social and economic characteristics. Map to state, city, zip code, etc. Also reports, charts, tables, etc. Mostly from 2004 to the present.
  • ProQuest Political Science: Fulltext access to roughly 500 political science journals.
  • Social Explorer (1790 to present): Allows you to browse or produce maps and reports from Census Bureau data and religious data from the Religious Congregations and Membership Study.
  • Women's Studies International: Gender across the disciplines. From scholarly was well as advocacy and community publications.

Databases for News

  • Access World News: newspapers, broadcast transcripts, etc. in English from around the world; all full text, user-friendly search interface
  • Alternative Press Index: More than 300 international journals, magazines, and newspapers offering an alternative, radical, or left perspective
  • Ethnic NewsWatch: ethnic, minority and native press
  • Factiva: includes some titles not available elsewhere, including New York Times
  • Newspaper Source Plus: newspapers, broadcast transcripts, etc. in English from around the world; all full text, user-friendly search interface
  • ProQuest Historical Newspapers: six major U.S. newspapers; dates of coverage vary; New York Times  three year prior to current year
  • ProQuest Recent Newspapers: U.S. Northeast: eleven titles, including  the Home News Tribune; current three months not included
  • Westlaw: click the News link from the initial search page

Government Documents and Information

  • American State Papers: Fulltext of executive and congressional material, 1789-1838
  • Catalog of U.S. Government Publications: Everything published by the federal government back to 1976; print version in Alexander Government Documents (GP 3.8) goes back to 1895; Government Documents collection has print documents not available in fulltext
  • Formerly Thomas, the official site for federal legislative material. Bills, committee reports, summary and status of legislation and more
  • CQ Almanac: Reports on elections, legislation, and more, tracks issues chronlogically in the US Congress
  • CQ Researcher: substantial full-text research reports on issues before the US Congress
  • Declassified Documents Reference System: Full text of documents declassified by the federal government; mostly post World War II
  • govinfo: Formerly GPO Access, provides full text of documents from the Government Printing Office: Congressional material, court opinions, federal agency documents, Public Papers of the Presidents and more
  • Law Library Microform Consortium Digital: Large, eclectic collection individual "libraries," US and non-US primary sources. Sources range from the compiled laws of the Muskogee Nation, 1890, to the bulls of Pope Benedict XIV
  • US Congressional Publications: full text of House and Senate hearings, 1824-present; reports and documents, 1970-present; Federal Register and Congressional Record, 1985-present; and lots more
  • US Congressional Serial Set: full text of House and Senate reports, documents and more, 1817-1980

Other Useful Databases

Some other databases that are often useful for political scientists:

  • Academic Search Premier: broad, multidisciplinary article database; popular and scholarly; lots of fulltext
  • America: History & Life: US and Canadian history
  • Communication and Mass Media Complete: communication and media studies
  • Country Watch: fulltext political, economic, cultural, business, and environmental information on 192 countries        
  • Criminal Justice Abstracts: criminal justice and criminology
  • EconLit: economics
  • ERIC: education
  • Exploring Race in Society: resources on race, ethnicity, diversity in U.S. society in the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as broader historical context.
  • GenderWatch (1970-present): Gender across the disciplines. From scholarly was well as advocacy and community publications.
  • Historical Abstracts: non US history back to 1450
  • PsychInfo: psychology
  • Sociological Abstracts: sociology
  • JSTOR: a very useful database because it has excellent chronological coverage, back to the first volume of all of the journals indexed. Also let's you search for terms in fulltext, which is sometimes useful. But for many journals JSTOR does not have current articles, and it only indexes a relatively small of journals in political science. Yes, all of the articles are available in full text, but "Get It @ R" will link from Worldwide Political Science Abstracts (or any other database) to full text in JSTOR. Why limit your search to articles in fairly limited number of journals? Why not search for current scholarship?

For a full list of all the databases, see the Databases page.

Accessing the Fulltext of Articles

Many of the records of the articles you find in the databases to the right will have direct links to the fulltext of the article. If not, click on Get It @ R. Get It @ R will (usually) provide a link to full text outside of the database. If you don't see a link to full text, click Sign-In, then Article Delivery. We'll provide a PDF copy, usually within a day.


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