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Political Science Research Guide: Getting Started with PS Research


Political science is a wide-ranging field with a number of significant subfields, including American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. There is great variation even within these subfields. For example, scholars in the subfield of International Relations may have interests in war, international organizations, trade (or more broadly, international political economy), ethnic conflict, and/or diplomacy. Political science also has many overlaps with a number of other disciplines, including sociology (e.g., nationalism and social class), economics (e.g., comparative/international political economy), and law (e.g., international law).

Reference Resources

The following list is a sampling of possible sources for locating background information and additional sources as well as building a search vocabulary in the discipline. A good one way to locate additional sources is to browse titles in the same general area, both in the Reference collection and in the Stacks.

  • Dictionary of Modern Politics, David Robertson
    Reference JA61 .R63 2002
    Newest edition is 2003. Provides brief encyclopedic entries on various political terms. Allows for cross-referencing.
  • Dictionary of World Politics
    D419 .K87 2002
  • Encyclopedia of Political Thought, Garrett Ward Sheldon, ed.
    Reference JA61. E52 2001
    Brief narratives of important and influential movements, terms, and figures in political thought. Also provides a selection of "further readings" along with each entry.
  • Oxford Companion to Politics of the World
    Reference JA61.O95 2001
  • Penguin Dictionary of International Relations
    Reference JZ1161 .E94 1998
    A similar one volume set.
  • Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations
    Reference JZ1160 .N65 2002
    Four volume set that covers major terminology, concepts, figures, etc. in the area of international relations.
  • Encyclopedia of Parliaments and Legislatures
    Reference JF511 .W67 1998
    Excellent resource for data and background on individual legislatures around the world. .
  • International Encyclopedia of Elections
    JF1001 .I57 2000
    Arranged by term/figure/issue as related to electoral politics.
  • Political Parties of the World
    JF2051.D39 2002
  • World Encyclopedia of Political Systems and Parties, 3rd edition
    Reference JF2011 .W67 1999
    Alphabetically arranged by country and includes narrative on System of Government, Electoral System, Party System, Parties, National Prospects, and brief Further Reading entries. New edition appearing in 2005.
  • Regional Surveys of the World
    Various reference numbers.
    Invaluable series, divided up by geographical region that provides significant historical background, current poltical and economic developments, statistics, directory (addresses and phone numbers of major political actors and organizations), and bibliography for individual countries in the region.
  • Almanac of American Politics (1972, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002)
    Reference Desk JK1012 .A44 2004
    Latest year is in Reference, earlier editions are located in the stacks. Arranged alphabetically by state includes a narrative essay and information on state government, Congressional members, and districts.
  • Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods (Sage)
    Reference H62.S34 (3 Volumes)
    Three volume encylcopedia that provides basic as well as advanced discussions of numerous statistical and general research terms commonly used in social science research. Most entries are also accompanied by a bibliography for further reading and discussion. Also allows for term cross-referencing.
  • Europa Year Book (1960-present)
    Reference Desk D2 .E821 (current)--online version
    Latest year is in Reference, earlier editions are located in the stacks. Arranged alphabetically by country. The Directory section for each entry includes Constitution, Government, Legislature, Political Organization, Diplomatic Representation, and Judicial System.

Subject Guide

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Chris Palazzolo
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