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POL 150: Comparative Politics

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Comparative Politics Study

This guide is primarily meant to help you complete your Comparative Politics Study assignment. Use the resources below to help you find statistical information and think through the issues inherent in finding statistical data. You'll notice that some resources are located in more than one spot, reflecting the many paths to access statistics.

You are more than welcome to discuss your topic and research needs with a librarian at the reference desk at any point in your research.

Table of Contents:

Questions to Consider when Looking for Statistics
Searching for statistics, especially from other countries, can be at times challenging, frustrating and exciting. You will not find everything you're looking for in a neat and tidy package. Plan to spend a good deal of time sifting through sources to find the statistics you're looking for. Persistence and perseverance can pay off!
  • Who/what would collect statistics on my topic?
    Governments tend to collect many kinds of statistics. In the United States, for example, the government collects statistics on population trends, crime, health, education, housing, natural resources, etc. News organizations, polling places, institutes, think tanks and researchers also collect data, so consider the types of institutions beyond the government that would collect data on your topic.
  • How would statistics on my topic be made public?
    You can find statistics in a number of places, both in print and online. See below for specific resources. Keep in mind, however, that not every statistic is publicly available.
  • How does the structure of the country's government affect how statistics might be available?
    Apply what you know about your country's government to search for statistics. If the country has a strong centralized government, you might find lots of statistics through a search of that government's webpages. If you have a country that is less centralized, like the United States, you might find that the federal government collects some statistics while states or provinces collect others. Keep in mind, too, that not every country collects the same kinds of statistics or to the same degree. PLEASE NOTE: Government typically DO NOT collect public opinion data. See below for more information on finding that type of data.
  • What possible barriers might prevent me from finding statistics on my topic?
    While researching statistics, there are many possible barriers. Statistics for your topic might not be made public, or might not be available in a neat package. You might have to sift through a lot of sources to put together what you're looking for. You might encounter language barriers. You might also find that data simply wasn't collected for the years you're looking for - or wasn't collected at all. Keep these possible barriers in mind, along with an attitude of patience and perseverance.
Country Specific Data
Here you'll find links to many resources about specific countries.
  • Britannica Online Academic Edition

    Search the content of encyclopedias, a dictionary and thesaurus, a multimedia database with images, videos, and sound files, the Web's Best Sites, selected magazines and journals, country statistics from World Data Analyst, notable quotations, and Gateway to the Classics (a collection of works of Western history, literature, philosophy, and science). Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM).
  • LexisNexis Country Profiles

    Search for news and research reports on a particular country; includes includes some of the most comprehensive sources of political, economic and socio-demographic information.
  • 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
  • World Development Indicators

    WDI is a database of global information and statistics compiled yearly.
  • World Factbook (CIA)

    Provides country profiles.
Public Opinion Data
Try these links to access public opinion data about your topic.
  • CISER Data Archive

    from Cornell University, annotated list of available polls
  • Gallup Poll
    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
    • Location(s): Ref HN 90 .P8 G35
  • Pew Research Center

    Gateway to variety of studies supported by Pew Research
  • The Roper Center's poll

    collection of polling data from many outlets - subscription required for some content
  • World Values Survey

    tables and graphs from World Values Survey conducted 1981-2004
Statistical Sources
These resources contain a wide variety of statistical data, both in print and online.
  • Gallup Poll
    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
    • Location(s): Ref HN 90 .P8 G35
  • Historical Statistics of the United States: earliest times to the present
    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

    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
    • 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.
News articles from or about your country might contain important data, including public opinion data. Please note that these databases primarily contain English language newspapers. You can also try a Google search to locate an online news source from your country.
  • LexisNexis Academic

    Search current news, business information (including business news and corporate financials), and legal news and information. International news sources are also included.
  • New York Times Historical (1851-4 years ago)

    The full text of the New York Times from 1851 to 4 years ago -- covering the entire publishing history of the newspaper back to the first issue. The newspaper text is fully indexed and searchable and the database also contains full-page images, including graphics. Available on the Web through ProQuest.
  • 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).
Books about your topic and/or country might also contain data. Use the links below to search for books both within Gustavus and beyond. The Interlibrary Loan link describes how to request books from other libraries.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Interlibrary Loan

    For information on requesting books and articles from other libraries, visit our Interlibrary Loan page.
Journal Articles
Like books, journal articles might contain data related to your topic, especially data related to public opinion.
  • Academic Search Premier,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=aph

    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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • Public Affairs Index,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=p4h

    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.
  • 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.
  • Interlibrary Loan

    For information on requesting books and articles from other libraries, visit our Interlibrary Loan page.
Reference Desk

Visit with librarians at the desk, by phone, email or chat for help with any library or research question. Click on the link for more information about this service.

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