Introduction to Political Science Methods

This is a very selective guide to the resources that you will find useful as you do research in the field of political science. For more resources, consult the general Subject and Course Guides page for Public and International Affairs or contact the Public and International Affairs liaison librarian (on the right side of this page).

Course number: 
PLS 201

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Literature Review Tutorial

Even though this tutorial is geared towards graduate students, you might find some useful information in this video about writing literature reviews. 


Recommended Databases

Below are some databases that you could use when searching for scholarly articles for your literature reviews. Some are also useful when you are gathering background information about your topic.

Worldwide Political Science Abstracts

Provides citations, abstracts, and indexing of the international serials literature in political science and its complementary fields, law, public administration / policy, and public and international affairs.

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Public Affairs Information Services (PAIS)

The Public Affairs Information Services database provides information on business, public and international affairs, public and social policies and international relations. PAIS includes publications from over 120 countries throughout the world.

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Political Science Database

Covers the literature of political science and international relations, including such topics as comparative politics, political economy, international development, environmental policy, and hundreds of related topics. This database provides access to hundreds of leading political science and international relations journals, providing full-text of many core titles indexed in Worldwide Political Science Abstracts.

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Project MUSE

Project MUSE is a unique collaboration between libraries and publishers providing 100% full-text, to high quality humanities, arts, art history, creative writing, education, English, film studies, foreign languages and literatures, history, religion, theatre, and social sciences journals from scholarly publishers.

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Archive of selected scholarly journals in anthropology, art, art history, communication studies, criminology, ecology, economics, education, English, film studies, foreign languages and literatures, geography, geology, history, mathematics, music, philosophy, political science, public and international affairs, religion, social work, sociology, statistics, theatre, and other humanities and social sciences.

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While these websites might be less useful for locating scholarly articles for your literature reviews, they still provide useful general information about politics and political science research.

Pew Research Center

The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan "fact tank" that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.  It does not take positions on policy issues.  Its work is carried out by these seven projects:  The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, Project for Excellence in Journalism, Pew Internet & American Life Project, The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Pew Hispanic Center, Pew Global Attitudes Project, Social & Demographic Trends.

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Founded by the Annenberg Public Policy Center to help fact check claims in articles, speeches, debates, news, etc.

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The Oyez Project at the University of Chicago-Kent is a multimedia archive devoted to the Supreme Court of the United States and its work.

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American Rhetoric

Database of public speeches, sermons, legal proceedings, lectures, debates, interviews, other recorded media events.

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Popular Names of Acts in the U.S. Code

Laws acquire popular names as they make their way through Congress. This website provides the popular name and the actual name as it appears in the US Code.

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Member Guide for the 116th Congress

Resource for House and Senate member information during the last two years of Donald's Trump presidency. Information includes biographical data as well as materials published in the Pictorial Directory and the Congressional Directory.

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North Carolina State Board of Elections

This website allows you to obtain information on NC voting, voter registration, checking your voter registration status, and more.

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Government Resources

In addition to the databases and websites below, you can search the library catalog to find government resources. 

ProQuest Congressional

Comprehensive online collection of primary source congressional publications and legislative research materials covering all topics, including government, current events, politics, economics, business, science and technology, international relations, social issues, finance, insurance, and medicine. Finding aid for congressional hearings, committee prints, committee reports and documents from 1970-present, and the daily Congressional Record from 1985-present. Compiled legislative histories from 1969-present.

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Contains more than 1,200 law and law-related periodicals. Coverage is from the first issue published for all periodicals and goes through the most-currently published issues allowed based on contracts with publishers. Retrieve articles by citation, browse, or search across nearly 50 million pages of content. HeinOnline also contains many useful resources for criminology, and public and international affairs, such as the Congressional Record Bound volumes in entirety, complete coverage of the U.S.

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A variety of statutes, Congressional, and Supreme Court documents.

Official website for U.S. federal legislative information. Provides access to accurate, timely, and complete legislative information for Members of Congress, legislative agencies, and the public. Usually updated the morning after session adjourns.

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Bills introduced in Congress.
Court opinions.
Catalog of Government Publications (CGP)

Database of searchable U.S. governmental documents and federal publications. Source also helps users locate nearby Federal Depository Libraries to find a specific publication or locate expert in-person assistance.

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U.S. Department of State

The department's mission is to shape and sustain a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere.

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Current and some historical information, including Background Notes (basic country information) and Treaties in Force.

Statistics, Data, and Maps

ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the United States

The ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the United States is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic conditions of the United States.

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Historical Statistics of the United States

This five-volume reference work reflects thirty years of new data and scholarship. Topics ranging from migration and health to crime and the Confederate States of America are each placed in historical context by a recognized expert in the field.

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Explore Census Data

Searchable database of digital content from the U.S. Census Bureau. Provides information related to the population, economy, and other subjects surveyed by the Census.

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NationMaster is a central data source that allows the user to graphically compare nations. Using data from sources like the CIA World Factbook, UN, and OECD, NationMaster provides information on market sizing and trends on any sector or sub-sector in any country.

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Log Into North Carolina (LINC) is an interactive data retrieval service containing historical information for over 900 data items and a variety of geographic areas within the state. Topics include population, labor force, education, transportation, revenue, agriculture, vital statistics, energy and utilities, and other topics for a variety of geographic areas within the state.

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Bureau of Justice Statistics

Governmental source for criminal justice information and statistics. Data topics include corrections, courts, Native American justice statistics, law enforcement, and victims.

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ICPSR (Inter University Consortium for Political and Social Research)

ICPSR maintains and provides access to a vast archive of social science data for research and instruction, including a data archive of more than 500,000 files of research in the social sciences. It hosts 16 specialized collections of data in education, aging, criminology, criminal justice, social work, sociology, substance abuse, terrorism, and other fields.

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Federal website providing data sets generated by the Executive Branch.

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Odum Institute Dataverse Network

An application to publish, share, reference, extract, and analyze research data. From the Odum Institute at UNC Chapel Hill.

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APSA Style Guide

APSA Style Manual for Political Science

The American Political Science Association's style guide for writing in the political science discipline and for APSA journals.

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