Political Science Research Guide

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Library Session Evaluation

Did you have a library session with Allison? Please take a minute to complete this instruction evaluation of the session.


Research Process

Research is a process that cannot (should not) be completed in one sitting. If you follow the steps outlined below, you should experience less frustration, anxiety and general dread, and be much happier with the end product. Librarians can help you at any step in the process, but specifically in topic development, background research, and the collection of evidence.

Once you get the assignment, you will choose your topic, and start brainstorming. Next, you will conduct some exploration or background research and take detailed notes about what you find. Using these notes, you will then focus your topic, and your brainstorming will then be about how you will start searching for your topic. Then, you will collect the information you need to support your topic. This is where you may go back to further refining your topic and collecting more background information.  Once you feel that you have enough information to start writing, then you will work on drafting your assignment. Again, you may need to collect more information if you feel that there are gaps in your paper. Once you have completed your writing, you will write your citations and bibliography. Then you will finish by evaluating the processOnce you get the assignment, you will choose your topic, and start brainstorming. Next, you will conduct some exploration or background research and take detailed notes about what you find. Using these notes, you will then focus your topic, and your brainstorming will then be about how you will start searching for your topic. Then, you will collect the information you need to support your topic. This is where you may go back to further refining your topic and collecting more background information.  Once you feel that you have enough information to start writing, then you will work on drafting your assignment. Again, you may need to collect more information if you feel that there are gaps in your paper. Once you have completed your writing, you will write your citations and bibliography. Then you will finish by evaluating the process.

One thing that I can’t stress enough, is that this process is cyclical. If you follow this process, then you may have to revise your topic, and search for new sources a few times. Don’t be discouraged if it feels like you are going in circles with your research. You can always come meet with a librarian for help with your research.

Background

Political Science - Background


Political Science Reference Sources

CQ Electronic Library This collection includes a lot of great resources to help you understand current and past topics in American government. Contents include:

  • Congress A-Z
  • Congress and the Nation
  • Congressional Staff Director
  • Supreme Court A-Z
  • and more...

American Government & Politics

Country & Area Studies

Reference books

  • Encyclopedia of Cuba, F1754 .E53 2003 REF
  • Governments of the World, JA61 .G645 2006 REF
  • Latin America, History & Cultures: An encyclopedia for students, F1406 .L38 1999 REF
  • The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World, JA61 .O95 2001 REF
  • The World Factbook

Online sources


Books

Books will give you background information and an overview on what you are researching. You need this information in order to provide context.

Books at Cal State San Marcos

Library Catalog  
Search our local collection of about 250,000 books.

Other Options

Circuit (1-3 day delivery)
Search the collections of other San Diego area libraries -- about 3,000,000 books. Find and request books directly online; pick them up at our Library in 1-3 days.

WorldCat (5-10 day delivery)
Search the collections of libraries world-wide -- about 52,000,000 books. Find a book in this database, and fill-out an Interlibrary Loan delivery request. Book will be delivered to Library for pickup.


Library Databases for News

Use these databases to search across newspapers and news magazines. To access the full-text of the article, look for the Get Text button.

Database Full Text Coverage
Lexis Nexis Academic
Provides access to a wide range of news, business, legal, and reference information.
full text 1975→current
Academic Search Premier (EbscoHost)
Our most popular database. Covers a wide array of subjects with full text for nearly 1,850 scholarly journals, including more than 1,250 peer-reviewed titles.
 
some + sfx 1984→current
Ethnic NewsWatch
Full-text ethnic newspapers, searchable in English or Spanish.
 
full text 1992→current
PAIS
An important index to political, economic, and social issues in current debate.
sfx 1972→current
ProQuest Newspapers
Includes coverage of over 300 major U.S. and international newspapers, such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune.
full text 1970→current

Primary Sources

Political Science - Primary sources


Finding Legislation

Find legislation by topic or bill number

State Legislation & Ballot Propositions

  • California Assembly and Senate Bills, Legislative Counsel of California. Search by keywords or bill number to find state legislation about your topic. You can search the current or past sessions. Included in this database are the following:
    • Status and history
    • Bill text
    • Analysis (this analysis is used by legislators to make voting decisions, so it would be considered a primary source)
    • Votes
  • California Ballot Propositions. From the Secretary of State, this page will link you to voter information guides from past elections. In order to find information about your proposition, you will need to know what ballot it appeared on. Ballot Measure Archive

Federal Legislation

  • THOMAS, Library of Congress. THOMAS includes legislative information from the U.S. Congress. Search by keywords or bill number to find federal legislation about your topic. You can search the current or past sessions. When you find a bill, click on "Bill Summary & Status" for the following:
    • Text of Legislation
    • Cosponsors
    • Related Bills
    • Major Congressional Actions - this is where you will find the voting records, and passage/failure
  • Years and Session Dates of Congress If you have the bill number and year, but not the session of Congress, use this website to get it.


Finding Court Cases

The best source for CASES is Lexis/Nexis Academic found in the research databases page.

  1. You can search for a case by the name of the case right from the main search screen.
  2. You can search by the citation from the main search screen (347 U.S. 475). For more on citations see: http://www.lexisnexis.com/communities/academic/default.aspx
  3. OR you can search following these steps: On the left menu choose US LEGAL, then select Federal & State Cases.Then see below:
CASES

To find a case involving due process:

  • Once you are in the Cases area you can enter terms or do a more specialized search. If you have the parties names, or the citation, enter the parties names under CASE NAME.  On the left menu, select FEDERAL AND STATE CASES, then type in the PARTY NAMES or the CITATION NUMBER
  • Another way to search:
  1. At the bottom of the search area you will see a link POWER SEARCH. Click on this link to open up advanced search options.
  2. Under the section called ADD SEARCH SECTION, select a segment
  3. Choose SYLLABUS
  4. Type in DUE PROCESS into the TERMS box
  5. Click ADD TO SEARCH
  6. Choose your DATE RANGE
  7. Click SEARCH

   See this short video (no audio) for a demonstration of this search: http://www.screencast.com/users/infolitlib/folders/Jing/media/896e6a3c-d24d-4ce2-8cfc-cefb39caad4a

 

 

Search within Document Sections :   

Document sections are specific, pre-defined segments of a document in which you may target your search. For example, search for specific words in the headline or case summary section or a specific name only within the judge or byline section. Follow the steps below to search within a document section:
 
Example: SUMMARY(due process) and CONCURBY(alito)

Scholarly Articles

Political Science - Scholarly articles


What's Scholarly and What's Popular?

A snazzy video made by librarians at Wayne State University in Michigan on how to differentiate between scholarly and popular sources.

 


Library Databases for Political Science

Journal articles provide you with the latest research in your field. The research databases below will provide you with both scholarly and popular journal articles in political science.

What's the difference between scholarly and popular articles?

 

Most Useful

Academic Search Premier
This scholarly collection offers information in nearly every area of academic study including: computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry, language and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, ethnic studies, and many more.
Coverage: 1975→current

JSTOR
Contains (EXCEPT for the latest five years) core scholarly journals in sociology, history, economics, political science, mathematics, African-American & Asian studies, literature, humanities, music, and biological, health & general sciences.
Coverage: 1838→2004

PAIS
An important index to political, economic, and social issues in current debate.
Coverage: 1972→current

Also Useful

Lexis Nexis Academic
Provides access to a wide range of news, business, legal, and reference information.
Coverage: 1975→current

GPO: U.S. Government Printing Office
Abstracts from all types of U.S. government documents, including Congressional reports, hearings, debates, and records.
Coverage: 1976→current

CQ Researcher
Explores a single "hot" issue in the news in-depth each week. Topics range from social and teen issues to environment, health, education and science and technology.
Coverage: 1991→current

Public Policy Institute of California
This collection of California state policy, research and statistical reports covers subjects such as economic development, education, employment, environment, government/politics, health, housing, infrastructure (transportation, water, etc.), immigration.
Coverage: 1996→current


Law Reviews

Law reviews are the scholarly articles of the legal world. These publications present the analysis of legal issues. Most law reviews are written by law professors and practicing attorneys, along with some student work. Law reviews present new theory and doctrine; intensive analysis; comprehensive documentation; opinion and dialog*.

Lexis Nexis is the best tool for finding Law Reviews at CSUSM. Follow these steps to find law reviews:

  1. Starting with Lexis Nexis Academic, choose US Legal on the left side of the screen, and then choose Law Reviews
  2. Enter your search terms and be sure to change the drop box to At Least 5 Occurances to ensure that your words are prominent in the article.
    • You can limit your search to specific areas of the law such as Constitutional Law or Immigration Law.
  3. Review the results for relevant articles
    • Look mainly for articels labeled ARTICLES, because OPINIONS or NOTES may be written by law school students.

* Taken from Charles N. and Hilda H. M. Mason Law Library, University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law

Lit Reviews

Political Science - lit review


Literature Review

Example literature review

What is a literature review?

A literature review is not research, it is a review of the research that has been done on your topic.

A literature review is NOT just a summary, but a conceptually organized synthesis of the results of your search. It must

  • organize information and relate it to the thesis or research question you are developing
  • synthesize and critically analyze the results comparing and contrasting their findings
  • identify controversy and themes that appear in the literature

A literature review is a piece of discursive prose, not a list describing or summarizing one piece of literature after another. It's usually a bad sign to see every paragraph beginning with the name of a researcher. Instead, organize the literature review into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory. You are not trying to list all the material published, but to synthesize and evaluate it according to the guiding concept of your thesis or research question. (From Univ. of Toronto)

Check out these sites for more help understanding literature reviews

Tips on conducting research for a literature review

  • Use bibliographies and reference pages of articles to direct your research. You may start to see some trends with the people who are writing about your topic. Check the bibliography for more articles about your topic.
  • Use the authors who you have found to be writing on your topic as starting points. Look for additional articles, and rebuttals, retractions or responses to their research

Use this chart to track articles you read for your literature review:

Citations

Political Science - Citations


Why cite?

  • To give credit where credit is due;
  • So your reader (professor) can get the source that you mentioned in your assignment;
  • To add credibility to your research - shows you did the work;
  • Avoid plagiarism.

Learn more about writing citations and avoiding plagiarism by visiting these websites:


APA Style Guide

As you write your paper, you'll need to cite passages and ideas from the sources you've found. Check with your professor which style is preferred for this assignment.

 

Documenting Sources for the Social Sciences (Diana Hacker)
From Research and Documentation Online, this site offers help on writing in-text citations, list of references and the manuscript format.

apastyle.org
Produced by the APA, this site contains a wealth of information about APA citation style. It is not a replacement for owning the Publication Manual, though.


APSA Style Guide

As you write your paper, you'll need to cite passages and ideas from the sources you've found.  In order to cite your resources properly, you need to follow the style guide used by political science scholars.

  APSA Style Manual for Political Science. Washington, DC : American Political Science Association, 2006

You can use KnightCite as a starting point for APSA (start with Chicago), but it will need to be revised.

PSCI 417

PSCI 417


2012 Electoral College Project

This guide is intended to give you a starting point for your research for the Electoral College Project. Below, you will find links to tools that I think will be most useful for your assignment. If at any point, you get stuck in your research, please contact me to set up a research appointment.

 


City/State Data

To complete this assignment, you will need specific information about cities/states around the nation. 

U.S. Census: The Census will be your starting point for this assignment. In addition to basic population information, you'll also find inofmration about education, income and businesses in the geographic area you are studying.

  • Economic Census: This subset of the Census provides detailed information about business and industry in your location.

Voting and election information

Secretary of State: The SOS is the office responsible for elections in a given state. You should be able to get information about voting laws and election info for any state from their Secretary of State website. You may also find past election results and information about the upcoming election. You will also find electoral college E.g. California Secretary of State and California's Electoral College information.

Registrar of Voters: This office is responsible for registering voters in a county, and running local elections. You may find past election information and local information about elections. E.g San Diego County Registrar of Voters

 


Library Databases for News

Use these databases to search across newspapers and news magazines. To access the full-text of the article, look for the Get Text button.

Database Full Text

Coverage

Lexis Nexis Academic
Provides access to a wide range of news, business, legal, and reference information.
full text 1975→current
Academic Search Premier (EbscoHost)
Our most popular database. Covers a wide array of subjects with full text for nearly 1,850 scholarly journals, including more than 1,250 peer-reviewed titles.
 
some + sfx 1984→current
Ethnic NewsWatch
Full-text ethnic newspapers, searchable in English or Spanish.
 
full text 1992→current
PAIS
An important index to political, economic, and social issues in current debate.
sfx 1972→current
ProQuest Newspapers
Includes coverage of over 300 major U.S. and international newspapers, such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune.
full text 1970→current

If you are looking for news media in a specific location, try ABYZ News Links. You'll find links to different types of news media for states and cities around the county.


Election 2012

Below you will find select resources about the 2012 Elections.

Specia Newsl Coverage of 2012 Elections:

California & San Diego Elections:

Polling:

  • Gallup: Election 2012
  • 270towin.com, Polls: this is a list of the latest polls put out by different groups. Click on the polling group name for details on how the poll was conducted.
  • RealClearPolitics.com, Polls: also a list of polls. Click on the polling group name for details on how the poll was conducted.

Fact Checkers:

Campaign Finance:


Need Help?

Allison Carr

Academic Transitions Librarian
Allison Carr, Academic Transitions Librarian
acarr@csusm.edu
760-750-4337
Office Location: 
KEL 3425

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