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PO 203 - Political Science Research Methods


This guide highlights some of the best Politics research resources available in Geisel Library and online. For help with using these resources or researching your specific topic, please visit the Reference Desk or ask questions online through Ask a Librarian.


Background Information

Reference materials are a good place to begin your research. They can provide background information on your topic, help you identify keywords for further searching, and point you to relevant books and journal articles worth reading. There are also specialized reference resources in the field of politics that provide information like election statistics and overviews of Congressional activity.

If your topic involves historical research or social issues, you may also want to consult reference resources listed on the History or Sociology subject guides.

American Government

Almanac of American Politics
     Available through; click on My Publications / National Journal Almanac

Congress and the Nation (every four years; includes overview of Congressional activity and record of key votes)
     Ref KF49 .C653 (1945–present)

Congressional Quarterly Almanac (annual:  includes House and Senate vote record)
     Ref JK1 .C66 (1963–present)

Encyclopedia of American Political History (3 vols.)
     Ref E183 .E48

Encyclopedia of American Social Movements (4 vols.)
     Ref HN57 .E594

Encyclopedia of Politics:  The Left and the Right (2 vols.)
     Ref JA61 .E54

Encyclopedia of the American Constitution (6 vols.)
     Ref KF4548 .E53

Encyclopedia of the American Legislative System (3 vols.)
     Ref JF501 .E53

Encyclopedia of the American Presidency (4 vols.)
     Ref JK511 .E53

Encyclopedia of the United States Congress (4 vols.)
     Ref JK1067 .E63

Vital Statistics on American Politics
     Ref JK274 .V582

Vital Statistics on the Presidency:  Washington to Clinton
     Ref JK518 .R34

American Elections

Almanac of State Legislative Elections
     Ref JK1967 .A77

America at the Polls, 1920–1956:  A Handbook of American Presidential Election Statistics
America at the Polls, 1960–2000:  A Handbook of American Presidential Election Statistics
     NHIOP Rm 5006: JK524 .M329

American Presidential Campaigns and Elections (3 vols.)
     Ref JK1965 .A57

Guide to Political Campaigns in America
     Ref JK2265 .G84

Guide to U.S. Elections (CQ Press)
     In CQ Press Online Editions

A Statistical History of the American Electorate
     Ref JK1967 .R87

United States Presidential Primary Elections, 1968–1996:  A Handbook of Election Statistics
     Ref JK522 .C66


Encyclopedia of Democracy (4 vols.)
     Ref JC423 .E53

Encyclopedia of Human Rights
     In Oxford Reference Online

Encyclopedia of Nationalism:  Fundamental Themes
Encyclopedia of Nationalism:  Leaders, Movements, and Concepts
     In Credo Reference

Encyclopedia of the Cold War (5 vols.)
     Ref D840 .E63

Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations
     In Credo Reference

Oxford Companion to the Politics of the World
     In Oxford Reference Online

Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace
     In Oxford Reference Online

Political Handbook of the World
     Ref JF37 .P6

Praeger Security International Online
This database includes encyclopedias on international relations, extremist groups, and "stateless nations."

Public Opinion and Polling Around the World:  A Historical Encyclopedia
     In Credo Reference


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Geisel Library catalog
To find relevant books, you will probably want to try both Keyword and Subject searching in the library catalog. Start by doing keyword searching on various aspects of your topic. When you find useful books, click on the Subject Headings in their catalog records to identify additional books on the same topic. Most books on politics are located on the Upper Level in the J call number area.

By searching WorldCat, you can identify relevant books owned by other colleges and have them delivered to Geisel Library for your use. The best approach is to perform Subject searches on the same Subject Headings that you discovered in the Geisel Library catalog. You can supplement this with Keyword searching on keywords pertaining to your topic.

When you identify a relevant book in WorldCat, you can click on the "Request via Interlibrary Loan" link in its WorldCat record. Books requested through WorldCat are usually delivered to Geisel Library in 7–10 days. You will be emailed when your book arrives, and you can check it out for a specified borrowing period.


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As with the book catalogs, search the journal databases using keywords related to your topic, combining concepts together using the Boolean AND and OR operators. Once you find relevant articles, examine the subject headings that have been assigned to them and conduct Subject searches on the ones that seem most potentially fruitful. Be sure to read the bibliographies of articles to identify additional sources worth tracking down.

If you find a useful article for which no full-text link is available, click on the WebBridge icon to determine whether the journal is available in Geisel Library or in full-text via another database. If the article isn't available, consider clicking on the Interlibrary Loan link to request a PDF copy of the article from another library. Within a week, you should receive an email indicating that the article is available to access.

Starting Points

Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
Check here first for citations and abstracts to the scholarly literature in political science and international relations. Coverage includes journals, book chapters, and books.

Academic Search Premier
This multi-disciplinary database is an excellent starting point for finding scholarly journal articles and popular magazine articles on a wide range of topics.

America:  History and Life
The best place to start for topics involving United States history. Use the Historical Period limiter (below the full text limiter checkboxes) to specify your time period of interest.

Search here for full-text articles from major scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences. If desired, use the "Limit to Discipline" option on the Advanced Search to restrict your search to political science journals only.

Project MUSE
This database offers full-text articles from over 100 peer-reviewed journals, plus citations and abstracts to about 300 other journals.

Other Databases

Historical Abstracts
The best place to start for journal articles about world history. Use the Historical Period From/To limiter (down below the full text limiter checkboxes) to specify your time period of interest.

LexisNexis Academic
Find full-text articles from local, national, and international newspapers, plus newswires and TV and radio transcripts.
Search this website for full-text articles on American politics and policies, plus columns and reports on the latest developments in Washington D.C. (Searchable Archive covers 1977–present)

New York Times
Full-text access to every article in the New York Times from 1851 to four years ago.

ProQuest Central  
A massive database covering a wide range of subjects, with full-text of scholarly journal articles, newspaper articles, dissertations, and business and industry profiles.

An excellent starting point for research on social issues or problems. This sociology database provides full-text journal articles and citations to books and conference papers.


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Selected Websites

These websites were handpicked for their relevance to your project. You may also want to conduct keyword searching on your topics in a search engine such as Google, but be sure to look for indications that the site's information is authoritative, objective and reliable.

American Government

See the Geisel Library Guide to Government Publications for links to the best government resources on the Internet, arranged by type of resource and by subject area. Below are a few highlights.

Search and retrieve any of the following:

  • Full text of legislation, including info on floor votes (1989–present)
  • House and Senate committee reports (1995–present)
  • Congressional Record (1989–present)

To search any of the publications below, use the Advanced Search and limit to the desired publication.  To browse, use the link below:

Google U.S. Government Search
A Google-powered engine that limits the search to U.S. federal, state, and local government websites. Add "filetype:pdf" to look for reports in PDF format.

OpenCRS Network
CRS Reports
Two websites that provide free access to reports issued by the Congressional Research Service, offering background and analysis on issues confronting Congress.

Congressional Votes Database
Sponsored by the Washington Post, this database provides voting records, financial disclosure statements, and related statistics for every member of Congress.

Project Vote Smart
For every current member of the US Congress, this website provides transcripts of speeches and statements, interest group ratings, and voting records by subject.

Country Information

Background Notes (State Department)
Up-to-date summary information on the world's countries.

This database provides in-depth discussions of the economic, political, and social conditions in every country, plus country-level statistics.

Portals to the World (Library of Congress)
A handpicked selection of websites, organized by topic within each country of the world.

The World Factbook (CIA)
An authoritative reference handbook on individual countries, with extensive summary information, basic statistics, and maps.


Election Resources on the Internet
Links to sources of international election data on the Internet.

Federal Election Commission: Campaign Finance Reports & Data
Searchable source for campaign finance reports and data that date back to 1993.

IFES Election Guide
This website posts results of elections from countries both large and small, dating back to 1998.
Presents data on campaign contributions gathered from public records.

U.S. Census:  Voting and Registration
Detailed breakdowns of voting and registration by sex, age, race, state, and other dimensions. Coverage runs from the mid-1960s through the present day.

U.S. Congress Election Statistics
Official election results for every U.S. Senate and House of Representatives race from 1920 through the present.


See the Geisel Library Guide to Statistics for links to the best statistical resources on the Internet, arranged by subject area. Below are a few highlights.

Census Data by Topic (United States)
This Census page provides access to summary tables of population data for commonly researched subjects, such as age, race, income, and education.

Countries and Regions (World Bank)
Choose countries or regions of interest, then click on Data and Statistics to gain access to statistics on health, education, poverty, and other factors.

Eurostat (European Union)
Freely available statistics on the countries of the EU, organized in directories by subject.

Fedstats (United States)
The federal government's official portal to government-produced statistics. Use the Topic Links to find the best reports and statistics by subject, or try the Search engine.

Gallup Brain
This database provides searchable access to Gallup poll questions and responses from 1935 through the present.

Population Reference Bureau
Click on the DataFinder to access the PRB's user-friendly database for obtaining basic demographic and health data on the countries of the world.

Statistical Abstract of the United States
     Ref HA202 .U5 (print version)
The online edition of the annual Census publication that contains statistics on nearly every topic imaginable, as produced by various government agencies.

World Development Indicators and Global Development Finance
This database from the World Bank contains country-by-country time series data on over 1,000 economic and social indicators, including macroeconomic variables such as GDP, inflation, national debt and savings.

Politics Research

The American Presidency Project
This website contains executive orders, state of the union addresses, and a searchable archive of the Public Papers of the President (from 1923 through the present), which includes official presidential speeches and writings.

Cold War International History Project
This digital collection maintained by the Woodrow Wilson International Center consists of a Virtual Archive of primary documents, organized thematically into collections such as the Geneva Conference, Hungarian Revolution, and Poland in the Cold War.

European Navigator
This website sponsored by the Virtual Resource Center for Knowledge about Europe provides access to important documents from significant events in the formation and development of the European Community and European Union.

Foreign Relations of the United States (1861–1960)
Foreign Relations of the United States (1960–1976)
The Foreign Relations of the United States series is the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions that have been declassified and edited for publication. Collectively, these two websites provide online access to selected volumes from 1861–1976.

National Security Archive
This comprehensive collection of primary documents includes more than 60,000 declassified documents regarding critical U.S. policy decisions.

Policy Archive
Policy Archive is a comprehensive digital library of public policy research containing thousands of reports and documents from research institutes and think tanks across the country.


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Citing Sources

For assistance with formatting your citations in Turabian style, see the examples by source type on Duke University's Citing Sources guide, or ask for the Turabian Manual (Ready Ref LB2369 .T8 2007) at the library's reference desk.

Your instructor also encourages you to use EndNote to manage your citations and create bibliographies. For help with getting started, see Geisel Library's guides on using EndNote and exporting references into EndNote.


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Book cover image for The Encyclopedia of Politics

Jennifer Lucas

Library Liaisons
Joe Constance
Jeff Waller

Background Information
     · American Government
     · American Elections
     · International
     · Starting Points
     · Other Databases
Selected Websites
     · American Government
     · Country Information
     · Elections
     · Statistics
     · Politics Research
Citing Sources

Subject Guide