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POL 440 -- Power & Seminal Readings in the American Polity: Places to Start

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The Key to Good Research -- Patience is a Virtue!!!

Picking Your Topic IS Research

The Research Process

  • Select an interesting and doable topic.
  • Spend some time doing background reading on your topic
    • .Background reading can show you the different facets of a topic and provide you with more vocabulary words to use in your searching.
    • Another strategy is to locate a book on your topic and examine the chapter titles in the table of contents and entries in the index at the back of the book to learn more about aspects of the topic that could narrow your research question.
  • Identify each component of your topic.
  • Select appropriate terms to describe the components and use truncation as appropriate.
  • Determine the correct use of Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT).
  • Select fields to search if appropriate (author, title, subject).
  • Limit your results as necessary (date, scholarly vs. popular, etc.).
  • Evaluate your results and rethink your strategy as necessary.

Print Sources

The Library's print reference collection is a great resource for beginning research and for developing research questions. Below are just a sample of the kinds of titles available:

  • Almanac of American Politics [Ref 328.73 B265a]
  • Directory of Congressional Voting Scores and Interest Group Ratings. 4th ed. [Ref 328.73 D598S4 2006] 2 vols.
  • Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. 2nd ed. [Ref 342.73 E562 2000] 6 vols.
  • Encyclopedia of the Democratic Party [Ref 324.273 K96e]
  • Encyclopedia of the Republican Party [Ref 324.273 K96e]
  • Encyclopedia of the United States Congress [Ref 328.73 E56 1995] 4 vols.
  • Encyclopedia of Third Parties in America [Ref 324.273 E56]
  • Politics in America [Ref 328.73 P769 2006]

Online Sources