Main Content

Politics Subject Guide


Politics is the study of human nature as it has developed and is expressed in different socio-political settings. Political scientists examine particular political cultures, including our own, and explore the limits of various political models. We do this by studying the world around us, utilizing the proper empirical and statistical tools as well as extensive philosophical training. Due to the variety of sub-fields within Politics, our studies frequently engage us in related areas such as psychology, biology, economics and sociology.

This subject guide is intended to assist students pursuing research in the different areas of political science. The discipline is divided into four major categories that include:  1) Political Theory; 2) Comparative Politics; 3) International Relations; 4) American Politics.

Political theory studies the interplay of power and justice and considers the moral and ethical questions that arise from that confrontation. It attempts to answer questions related to the foundations of political societies as well as their most elemental concerns. Examples of important theorists include many of the great philosophers of antiquity, such as Plato and Aristotle, and modern thinkers like John Locke, Niccolo Machiavelli, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Alexis de Toqueville, Karl Marx and Leo Strauss. Given the philosophical emphasis of political theory, some of the sources listed in this page will be cross disciplinary in nature.

Comparative politics analyzes the political development of nations conceptually, in order to explain the development of different national political systems. Comparative also examines how diverse cultures solve basic political problems. Often, comparative studies deal with the development of neighboring states, though comparative studies analyzing diverse states on opposite sides of the globe are also abundant. Comparative political studies are now becoming more important to researchers in recent years, as states become more interrelated through the process of globalization.

International relations examines the interactions between nations on many different levels and the interplay between power and justice in the international environment. Areas of study and interest with IR include social, economic and cultural relations, not only between national governments but increasingly in the modern area through what are called non-governmental organizations or NGO's.

American politics is, of course, the study of the political culture of our own country as it has developed and matured since the colonial period. The study of American politics mixes history, conceptual paradigms, statistical analyses and empirical studies of all types in an overall effort to understand and anticipate both the flow and future of the Republic. The resources attached to this page reflect the diversity of American politics as well as the richness of its history.

But Where Do I Begin?

The answer to this question, of course, depends on the type of project you have been assigned, and how much you already know about the general subject area itself. If, for example, you are doing a paper on arms control treaties between the United States and the former Soviet Union and have little or no knowledge of the Cold War era, it would be best to first consult a general history of the period in order to familiarize yourself with the people, events, and circumstances of the time. There are any number of such works in Geisel Library that can be found by going to the Library home page and clicking on the heading Find Books & More, which will take you to the catalog. Then do a keyword or subject search for the heading of Cold War which will net several pertinent results. This strategy, of course, will work for any subject heading, not simply the Cold War.

What is a literature review? For some ideas look at the following guides:

How to do a Literary Review (University of Toronto)

Review of Literature (University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center)


Return to top


Important Reference Resources

Encyclopedia of American Political History
     Ref E183 .E5

Encyclopedia of Political Science
     From Gale Virtual Reference Library

Statesman's Year-Book: Statistical and Historical Annual of the World's States
     Ref JA51 .S7

Oxford Companion to Politics of the World
     Ref JA61 .O95

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

Encyclopedia of Nationalism
     Ref JC311.S5484

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

Encyclopedia of Human Rights
     From Gale Virtual Reference Library

Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace

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

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

International Encyclopedia of Elections
     Ref JF1001 .I57

CQ Weekly
     NHIOP Rm 5000:  Vol.61, no.4 (Jan. 25, 2003– )
     (Call number JK1.C15)

THOMAS: Roll Call Votes (online)
Legislative information from the Library of Congress, both House and Senate roll call votes from the 101st congress and onward. 

Congressional Quarterly Almanac
U.S. Congress House and Senate roll call vote record is in the appendix
     Ref JK1 .C66 (1963–present)

Vital Statistics on American Politics
     Ref JK274 .V582

The United States Government Manual
     Ref JK421 .A3 (print version)

Congressional Quarterly's Guide to the Presidency
     Ref JK516 .C57

Vital Statistics on the Presidency
     Ref JK518 .R338

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

America at the Polls, 1960–2000:  John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush:  A Handbook of American Presidential Election Statistics
     Ref JK524 .M329

Congressional Directory

Directory of Congressional Voting Scores and Interest Group Ratings
     Ref JK1051 .S555

Congressional Districts in the 2000s:  A Portrait of America
     NH Inst. of Politics Room 5006 JK1341 .C65

Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections (2 vols.)
     Ref JK1967 .C662

CQ Guide to U.S. Elections

A Statistical History of the American Electorate
     Ref JK1967 .R87

Return to top


Find Journal Articles


CrossSearch  Politics

  What does this box search?                                  Advanced Search

Once familiar with the general subject area, you can start looking for more specific information either in books using the Library catalog, or in journals by using several of the major databases. Search for journal availability using the Journal Finder. Journals listed as "in Geisel Library Paper Holdings" are shelved alphabetically by journal title on the Lower Level of the Library. Many others are available full-text online by following the links provided. The major resources owned by the library in this area include:

Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
"CSA Worldwide Political Science Abstracts provides citations, abstracts, and indexing of the international serials literature in political science and its complementary fields, including international relations, law, and public administration / policy. The database is building on the merged backfiles of Political Science Abstracts, published by IFI / Plenum, 1975–2000, and ABC POL SCI, published by ABC-CLIO, 1984–2000. Since 2000, development of the serials list has focused on expanding international coverage. As of August 2005 approximately 1,510 titles are being monitored for coverage; of these, 67% are published outside the United States."

Providing full text of 650 scholarly journal titles, JSTOR covers the fields of literature and criticism, history, the visual and performing arts, cultural studies, education, political science, gender studies, economics, mathematics and others. Coverage is generally from the beginning of publication (as early as 1886) to within 5 years of the current issue. The following political science journals are included: American Journal of International Law, American Journal of Political Science, Midwest Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, International Organization, Journal of Politics, Political Science Quarterly, Proceedings of the American Political Science Association, Public Opinion Quarterly, World Politics.   User Guide

Project MUSE
"Project MUSE provides online, worldwide, institutional subscription access to the full text of more than 200 scholarly journals in arts and humanities, social sciences, and mathematics."

LexisNexis Academic
Find full-text newspaper articles from local, national and international papers. Gain access to full-text law reviews as well as company news and financial information, medical information, laws and regulations, polls and surveys, and general reference information.

CQ Researcher
"The 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. There are 44 reports produced each year including four expanded reports."    User Guide (PDF/1,071KB)

New York Times
"The New York Times (1851–2003) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue."

America:  History & Life
Provides abstracts to journal articles, book/media reviews, and dissertations with a focus on United States and Canadian history and culture from prehistoric times to the present. (1964–present)

Historical Abstracts
Provides abstracts to journal articles, books, and dissertations covering world history from 1450 to the present (excluding North America).

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.

ProQuest Military Collection
This resource is a good entry point for researching topics related to the military and international relations, with several hundred scholarly journals and trade periodicals in full-text.

Praeger Security International Online
This database provides in-depth analysis of terrorism and security issues, including weekly commentaries along with the full text of over 600 books and encyclopedias. PSI also includes an archive of over 1,000 security-related primary source documents (mostly from the US government) and a searchable chronology of terrorist incidents. The keyword search box enables you to quickly locate relevant titles, reference book entries, and documents.

This database offers a variety of information on the nations of the world. The CountryReviews provide indepth, up-to-date discussions of economic, political, and social conditions in every country, while the CountryWire enables you to follow the latest news developments. There is also a CountryWatch Data module with annual country-level statistics on health, education, demographics, and the economy.

This database provides citations and abstracts from both scholarly and general interest publications about environmental issues. The journal articles, government documents, and reports indexed in GreenFILE offer perspectives from the scientific, medical, legal, and political communities on the challenges facing our environment. (1973–present)

Policy Archive
Policy Archive is a comprehensive digital library of public policy research containing over 19,000 documents from research institutes and think tanks across the country. Many of these reports are very extensive providing a wealth of information on timely subject of domestic and international significance.

If you need help using any of these databases, just ask a librarian, for help with search terms and strategies.


Return to top


Selected Websites

Political Theory

Below are additional links relating to political theory:

The American Political Science Association, Foundations of Political Theory Section
This is great resource that links to free online journals and to other sites dedicated to major political theorists.

University of Michigan, Documents Center, Political Theory Resources
A tremendous resource of information on issues and leading individuals related to political theory.

Comparative Politics & International Relations

Below are additional links relating to comparative politics and international relations:

CIA World Factbook
An overview of all countries of the world with history and vital statistics.

U.S. Dept of State — Background Notes on Countries of the World
A good companion to CIA Factbook with information pertaining to current events and issues.

World Statesmen
An encyclopedia of leaders of nations, colonial territories, and international religious organizations.

United Nations

Organization of American States

European Union

British Commonwealth of Nations

Embassy of the Russian Federation

Embassy of the People's Republic of China

African Union

World Bank

World Trade Organization

International Monetary Fund

World Health Organization

American Politics

Below are additional links relating to American politics:

The President and Executive Branch

Office of the President
A huge cache of federal documents related to the history of the Presidency compiled by the University of Michigan, Federal Documents Center.

Presidents of the United States, biographical information

The White House Official Web Site

Presidential Libraries

American Presidency Project
Includes archives of Public Papers, executive orders, State of the Union addresses, and press conferences.

Audio Recordings of the Voices of U.S. Presidents
The Vincent Voice Library presents voices of U.S. Presidents, from President Benjamin Harrison to the present.

Executive Departments
Links to all Executive Departments Web sites of the United States Government.

United States Congress

THOMAS — Library of Congress
Locator for information on the U.S. Congress and government.

Official Web Site for the U.S. Senate

Official Web Site for the U.S. House of Representatives

The official website for government publications, including Congressional hearings and the Congressional Record.

Federal Judiciary

Official Web Site for the Supreme Court

Historic Supreme Court Decisions by Justice

The U.S. Supreme Court History

Constitutions, Statutes, and Codes

Researching Constitutional Law on the Internet

Official Web Site of the Federal Judiciary

Guide to Law Online

New England Resources


Connecticut Government

Maine Government

Massachusetts Government

New Hampshire Government

Rhode Island Government

Vermont Government


Connecticut Newspapers

Maine Newspapers

Massachusetts Newspapers

New Hampshire Newspapers

Rhode Island Newspapers

Vermont Newspapers


Connecticut Democratic Party

Connecticut Republican Party

Maine Democratic Party

Maine Republican Party

Massachusetts Democratic Party

Massachusetts Republican Party

New Hampshire Democratic party

New Hampshire Republican party

Rhode Island Democratic Party

Rhode Island Republican Party

Vermont Democratic Party

Vermont Republican Party


Information on State Constitutions and Statutes
From the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University.

New Hampshire Revised Statutes Online

New Hampshire State and Local Government

Political Parties

Directory of U.S. Political Parties
Descriptions of many political parties in the U.S. with links to their Web sites.

American Reform Party

Constitution Party

Democratic National Committee
Contains news, hearings updates and extensive information of the Democratic National Committee.

Green Party of the United States
Covers the Green Party platforms, candidates, events, and contact information.

Libertarian Party
Includes the Libertarian Party's philosophy, membership information, current activities, directories, official documents, information by state.

Republican National Committee
Links to news, video clips and chat line, and more.

Socialist Party


Return to top


Citing Sources

See the library's Citing Sources guide for resources on how to properly cite research materials. Always confirm the style required by your instructor.


Return to top