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POL 200: Analyzing Politics

All Terms


Library Lab Goals

The library lab component will give you: 1) a broad understanding of the structure of political science literature, 2) exposure to key information tools and resources in political science, and 3) a framework to think critically about information. The lab component seeks to develop your abilities to locate, evaluate, and effectively utilize information.

Use this guide to locate information tools and sources appropriate for your research. For additional assistance with research, stop by the Reference Desk to consult a librarian in person or contact Julie directly (contact information is under Course Instructors).

Personnel:
Julie Gilbert jgilber2@gac.edu
Vincent Vecera vvecera@gustavus.edu


Table of Contents:

Finding Books (2/14/12)
There are lots of places to find books, both within our library and beyond. MnPALS Plus will get you to books in our library. Use WorldCat for books in libraries across North America (and accessible via Interlibrary Loan). Check out Google Books for a variety of options, some of which include all or partial full text.
  • MnPALS Plus
    Also available from the library's front page. Be sure to play with your search terms; the ones you use first may not match those used by catalogers. When you find a book that looks interesting, write down the call number. Most of the political science books that you can check out are on the upper level. When you get to the shelves, be sure to browse.

  • WorldCat
    This shared catalog will help you locate books and other materials in hundreds of libraries around the world. Use the yellow "find it!" button to request a book through interlibrary loan.
    1000 CE-present; updated daily
  • Google Books
    Google is in the midst of an ambitious project to digitize books from publishers and in libraries. Those that were published before 1923 are in full text; those still potentially under copyright can be searched, but not viewed in full. It offers an interesting way to locate very specific words, phrases, and citations, particularly in older books. Using the advanced search you can limit a search to books that are full text or published within a range of years.
Developing Your Topic (2/14/12)
In order to explore your topic in a sophisticated manner, you need to understand the degree to which scholars in the field have address (or not) and attempted to answer your research question. Start browsing books and articles to get a sense of how academics have approached your topic. You'll also get a good sense of search terms to use this way. Talk to your professors - they are also experts in their fields and can give you ideas of leading scholars and issues related to your topic. Pay attention to literature reviews in journal articles and discussion of sources in books as these often outline the shape of the academic conversation surrounding your topic. See who gets cited in sources - once you start to see the same names pop up repeatedly, you can be confident you're on the right track. Remember also that developing a topic is a conversation between you and the other scholars who have approached your topic. Finally, you need time to delve into sources and pay attention to the conversation. Use the search tools below to find sources.

Reference Books (2/14/12)
Reference books are helpful at a number of steps during your research. They define unfamiliar terms, give an overview of a topic, and often provide recommendations for further reading. The reference books listed below are all found on the main floor of the library.

There are many other available reference books about political science; be sure to browse the areas near the books listed below to find other good sources.
  • Almanac of American Politics
    National Journal
    Summarizes the state of politics at both national and state levels, giving vote results on key issues and state-by-state analysis of important issues. Updated biennially.
    • Location(s): Ref JK 1012 .A44
    1972-
  • America Votes
    Congressional Quarterly
    Summarizes state and national election returns. Useful for historical as well as recent information.
    • Location(s): Ref JK 1967 .A8
    1956-
  • Congressional Quarterly's Guide to Congress
    CQ 2000 5th edition
    Gives detailed histories and discussions of Congressional processes and issues. There are similar guides put out by the same publisher covering the presidency (Ref JK 516 .G83 2008), the Supreme Court (Ref KF 8742 .W567 2004), and US elections (Ref JK1967 .G85 2005).
    • Location(s): Ref JK 1021 .C565 2000
  • CQ Researcher
    Washington, D.C. : Congressional Quarterly Inc.
    In-depth, analytical reporting on the most current and controversial issues of the day. Published by Congressional Quarterly, with its tradition of nonpartisan reporting and analysis, each CQ Researcher presents a balanced account of an issue on the public agenda. The objective, forward-looking reporting that characterizes these articles is designed to encourage discussion, to help readers think critically and to facilitate further research.
    • Location(s): Ref H 35 .E352 [year]
  • CQ's Politics in America
    CQ
    Gives biographical sketches and political analysis of legislators, discussion of regional and state politics, and thumbnail sketches of legislative districts. Updated biennially
    • Location(s): Ref JK 1010 .P64
    1981-
  • Human Rights Watch World Report
    Human Rights Watch
    An annual publication that surveys the world's human rights record. Each volume offers regional and country surveys summarizing the events of the previous year. Also available online: http://www.hrw.org/reports/world/reports/
    1990-
  • Regional Surveys of the World
    This multi-volume set provides excellent and informative information on countries of the world, including geographical, historical, political, economic, and statistical information. Each entry also contains a directory of governmental and non-governmental organizations. Older volumes are shelved in the General and/or Oversize collection; recent volumes are shelved in Reference. Consult the following list to identify volume(s) useful to your research.
    • Africa South of the Sahara
      Location: Ref DT 351 .A37
    • Central and South-Eastern Europe
      Location: Ref HC 244 .A1 C46
    • Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia
      Location: Ref HC 244 .A1 E29
    • The Far East and Australasia
      Location: Ref DS1 .F3
    • The Middle East and North Africa
      Location: Ref DS 49 .M62
    • South America, Central American, and the Caribbean
      Location: Ref F1401 .S28
    • Western Europe
      Location: Ref HC 240 .A1 W47
  • Social Science Encyclopedia
    London: Routledge 2004 3rd ed. edition
    Covers controversies and common assumptions in the fields of social science, including anthropology, psychology, economics, sociology, political theory, and gender studies. Contributors are drawn from many disciplines and represent perspectives from the US, the UK and beyond.
    • Location(s): Ref H 41 .S63 2004
  • Sage Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods
    Thousand Oaks: Sage 2004
    A thorough treatment of a variety of research methods and tools, covering definitions of terms, topical essays on concepts, and overviews of specific methods, outlining their nature, history, application, and reasons to choose one method over another. Both qualitative and quantitative methods and concepts are included.
    • Location(s): Ref H 62 .L456 2004
Finding Articles (2/21/12)
If you have an article citation and can't find the full text in a database, use the Journal Locator to see if Gustavus owns a print copy of the article OR if it is available through another database. Be sure to search the Journal Locator with the title of the journal, not the article title.
  • Academic Search Premier
    The world's largest academic multi-disciplinary database, Academic Search Premier indexes nearly 8,050 publications and provides full text for nearly 4,600, including more than 3,500 peer-reviewed journals. Coverage also includes many newspapers and popular magazines and spans virtually every area of academic study since 1975. Updated daily. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM). View our Academic Search Premier tutorial.
    1975-present; updated daily
  • CIAO
    Columbia International Affairs Online contains references to working papers, conference proceedings, journals, books, policy briefs, economic indicators, and more, from 1991 to the present. The database focuses on theory and research in international affairs.
    1991-present; updated monthly
  • JSTOR
    Full-text backfiles to over 350 scholarly journals from more than 25 academic disciplines published between the 19th and 21st centuries in the JSTOR Arts & Sciences I, Arts & Sciences II, and Language & Literature collections. JSTOR provides complete journal backruns from the date of initial publication up to a "moving wall" of 3 to 5 years before the present year. To limit your search to full text articles, make sure that the option to "include links to external content" is turned off.
    1831-recent years
  • LexisNexis Academic
    Search current news, business information (including business news and corporate financials), and legal news and information. International news sources are also included.
    Coverage varies by title; mostly 1980s-present
  • PapersFirst
    Index of papers presented at conferences worldwide. Covers every published congress, symposium, conference, exposition, workshop and meeting received by The British Library Document Supply Centre. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM).
  • ProceedingsFirst
    Index of worldwide conference proceedings. It covers every published congress, symposium, conference, exposition, workshop, and meeting received by The British Library Document Supply Centre, and contains in each record a list of the papers presented at each conference. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM).
  • ProQuest Newsstand
    Indexing and selected full text access to over 350 newspapers from around the world. Archival coverage begins in 1985 for some titles. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM).
    1986-present (most from 1995 on)
  • Public Affairs Index
    Covers global contemporary public policy issues, ranging from public health, the environment, housing, human and civil rights, to international conflict and natural disasters. Draws on scholarly publications, conference papers, government documents and reference works.
    1972-present; updated weekly
  • SAGE Premier
    Search the full text to over 500 scholarly journals published by SAGE in a range of disciplines, including many social sciences titles. Many journals include full backfiles - back to 1960s or earlier. To search articles by discipline, click on the "Browse" tab, then click on the "Articles by Discipline" tab.
  • Social Sciences Citation Index (Web of Knowledge)
    A multidisciplinary index with searchable author abstracts covering the journal literature of the social sciences, including anthropology, history, law, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, political science, public health, social work, sociology, urban studies, and women's studies. SSCI indexes more than 1,725 journals spanning 50 disciplines. In addition, it is possible to retrieve a list of works that have cited a specific author or specific work. May be searched simultaneously with Arts & Humanities Citation Index and/or Science Citation Index Expanded through the Web of Science interface.
    1997-present; updated weekly
Organizing the Research Process (2/21/12)
In general, let your research question/topic guide your approach.

As you first start out, you will probably need more background information. Reference books are especially useful here. They can give you search term ideas and also possible questions to investigate. They might also have a list of works cited that you can use as additional sources.

After you work more with your topic, you want to keep asking yourself what's missing. What part of the topic is murky? What haven't I investigated enough? Then ask yourself where you can go to get more information - search a variety of databases & library catalogs. Read broadly in your topic. Gain a sense of what questions are studied in the field and how.

Once you are familiar with the literature on your topic, continue to explore sources until you have a strong sense of how your topic has been studied in the literature (what questions have scholars of your topic studied) and by whom (who are the leading scholars of your topic). Keep tracking these down, using bibliographic traces to go forward and backward in the literature.

At all points in the research, be in conversation - with your professor, with your classmates, and with librarians.

Cited References Search (2/28/12)
As you find books and articles, be sure to mine their references for sources. By tracing cited works you're drawing on the evidence others have used and may find connections that you would otherwise miss. You will also see patterns emerge: works cited by everyone else are worth a look; authors who write a lot about your topic are worth searching by name, etc. Finally, remember that this is the way most scholars search for sources, so if you also search this way, you'll be searching in a very sophisticated and informed manner.

Search for cited books by title or author in library catalogs; for journal articles, check the Journal Locator by journal name to see if we have an article you want. Several databases also include features telling you how often a work has been cited. You don't need to find a book or article on the computer to request it through interlibrary loan. Simply use the reference you have to fill out a form for either a book or a journal article. These forms are linked on the Interlibrary Loan page below. (For essays in a book, ask for the book.)

To search forward in time - to see who has cited a work since it was published - use these resources. Social Sciences Citation Index will be particularly helpful, plus it has the fun Citation Map.

  • Social Sciences Citation Index (Web of Knowledge)
    A multidisciplinary index with searchable author abstracts covering the journal literature of the social sciences, including anthropology, history, law, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, political science, public health, social work, sociology, urban studies, and women's studies. SSCI indexes more than 1,725 journals spanning 50 disciplines. In addition, it is possible to retrieve a list of works that have cited a specific author or specific work. May be searched simultaneously with Arts & Humanities Citation Index and/or Science Citation Index Expanded through the Web of Science interface.
    1997-present; updated weekly
  • Academic Search Premier
    The world's largest academic multi-disciplinary database, Academic Search Premier indexes nearly 8,050 publications and provides full text for nearly 4,600, including more than 3,500 peer-reviewed journals. Coverage also includes many newspapers and popular magazines and spans virtually every area of academic study since 1975. Updated daily. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM). View our Academic Search Premier tutorial.
    1975-present; updated daily
  • JSTOR
    Full-text backfiles to over 350 scholarly journals from more than 25 academic disciplines published between the 19th and 21st centuries in the JSTOR Arts & Sciences I, Arts & Sciences II, and Language & Literature collections. JSTOR provides complete journal backruns from the date of initial publication up to a "moving wall" of 3 to 5 years before the present year. To limit your search to full text articles, make sure that the option to "include links to external content" is turned off.
    1831-recent years
  • Google Scholar
    This search engine points toward scholarly research rather than all Web-based sources. It is stronger in the sciences than in the humanities, with social sciences somewhere in between. One interesting feature of Google Scholar is that in includes a link to sources that cite a particular item. If you are using Google Scholar on campus, you will find articles available through the library's subscription databases linked. To view these links when searching off campus, use our Google Scholar Off Campus Link. Not all of the articles in Google Scholar are free; the library can obtain many of them for you through interlibrary loan.
Documenting Your Sources (3/6/12)
Check out this guide to learn about citing sources in MLA, APA, and Chicago Style.

Working with Sources (3/20/12)
Never underestimate the power of browsing a source, especially when you're trying to determine if it will be useful to your topic or not. For an article, skim the abstract, the introduction and conclusion. With a book, the first chapter often outlines the author's approach and findings. Check out the book's conclusion, too.

Follow examples from scholars in the field. They typically quote a few lines directly, paraphrase (restate) a point in their own words or summarize an entire book or article in a sentence or two. All of these approaches require citations!!

For more about scanning books, following the link above to the library's Research Tutorial about scanning.

Primary Sources (3/27/12)
  • Using Primary Sources on the Web
    A guide to finding, evaluating, and citing primary sources on the Web, from the Reference and User Services section of the American Library Association.
Government Documents (3/27/12)
  • Congressional (LexisNexis)
    Index to congressional publications from 1970 to the present, legislative histories for public laws, testimony at congressional hearings, and biographical and committee information. Also allows searching of the Congressional Record and Federal Register.
    1795-present
  • MnPALS Plus
    The online catalog to the library at Gustavus Adolphus College. Choose "All Libraries" in the search options to search other MnPALS libraries (such as Minnesota State schools) and request books through Interlibrary Loan. View our MnPALS Plus tutorial.
  • Thomas
    Provided by the Library of Congress, use this site to track congressional bills, read committee reports, and search the U.S. Code.
  • USA.gov
    Formerly known as firstgov.gov, this site is the gateway to all U.S. government web pages.
Public Opinon Data (4/10/12)
  • Gallup Poll
    Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources 1972-present
    An annual compilation of opinion poll statistics gathered by the Gallup Organization, covering from 1935 to the present. Indexes make it easy to find figures from different years. This organization also maintains a website which contains selected data at Gallup.com.
    • Location(s): Ref HN 90 .P8 G35
Statistical Sources (4/17/12)
  • Gallup Poll
    Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources 1972-present
    An annual compilation of opinion poll statistics gathered by the Gallup Organization, covering from 1935 to the present. Indexes make it easy to find figures from different years. This organization also maintains a website which contains selected data at Gallup.com.
    • Location(s): Ref HN 90 .P8 G35
  • Google Public Data Explorer
    Still in beta, this is Google's attempt to make a wide range of data publicly available. It's interactive & offers lots of fun charts & maps to play with.
  • Historical Statistics of the United States: earliest times to the present
    New York: Cambridge University Press 2006 Millenium ed. edition
    Revised update to Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970, Bicentennial ed. Washington U.S. Dept. of Commerce:GPO Includes bibliographic references and index,illustrated with maps, updates previous publishing with U.S. Census 2000 data.
    • Location(s): Ref HA 202 .H57 2006 (5 vols.)
  • Statistical Abstract of the United States
    Washington, D.C. : Government Printing Office 1879-present
    This is perhaps the single most useful small package of statistical information available. It includes hundreds of tables of figures on population, economics, social factors, etc., with references to the original sources. An index to the tables provide essay access. A web version can be found at Census.gov.
    • Location(s): Ready Reference HA 202 .A2
  • Statistical Resources on the Web
    Sponsored and maintained by the University of Michigan Library Documents Center, this website categorizes statistical sources into 24 major topical areas. It includes comprehensive coverage of government sites and is also fully searchable.
  • ProQuest Statistical Insight
    Includes summaries of statistical publications and searches and displays tables of statistical data. Statistical Insight includes links to the full-text of selected publications and government web sites, including the information contained in the Statistical Abstract of the United States.
Archival Sources (5/1/12 and 5/8/12)
  • Gustavus Adolphus College & Lutheran Church Archives
    Campus records, manuscript collections, student theses, college newspapers, yearbooks, and photographs are just some of the unique resources found in the College Archives. The Lutheran Church Archives houses records of largely Swedish-American church bodies in Minnesota, including photographs, congregational histories, biographical information and microfilmed church records.
    • Location(s): Library, 3rd floor
  • ArchiveGrid
    Thousands of libraries, museums, and archives have contributed nearly a million collection descriptions to ArchiveGrid. Researchers searching ArchiveGrid can learn about the many items in each of these collections -- from historical documents, to personal papers, to family histories. Researchers can contact archives to arrange a visit to examine materials, and in some cases, order copies. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM).
  • CONTENTdm Collection of Collections
    Here you will find records representing a sampling of collections created by the libraries and cultural heritage organizations using CONTENTdm today. Some records represent individual collections; some connect you to entire digital libraries. Each record attempts to describe the breadth and depth of the resources you will find when you access the site using the URL listed in each record.
  • Repositories of Primary Sources
    A listing of over 5000 websites describing holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources for the research scholar. Search at the national, state and regional levels.
  • WorldCat
    Includes over 40 million bibliographic records representing cataloged resources in 400 languages owned by libraries around the world. Materials date back to the 11th century. Owning libraries can be identified for books, journals, archival resources and electronic resources. Access to WorldCat is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM); the database can also be searched through its free web interface, at worldcat.org.
    1000 CE-present; updated daily
Library Help
  • Evaluating Web Sites
    Use our guide to help determine if a web site would be an appropriate and reliable source for your research.
  • Interlibrary Loan
    For information on ordering books and articles that Gustavus does not own, visit our Interlibrary Loan page or talk with a reference librarian.
  • Reference Desk
    No question too small (or big)! Visit us at the desk, by phone, email or chat for help with any library and/or research questions.


Page Coordinator: Julie Gilbert jgilber2@gac.edu
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