Pick a research topic:
- Read your syllabus (assignment instructions).
- Pick a topic that interests you and meets the assignment instructions.
- Narrow or broaden the scope of your topic so that it is "doable."
What's scope? Scope refers to the "people, places and things" or "who, what, when and where" that you are studying.
Identify key concepts:
Define and get an overview of your topic or find definitions of key terms and concepts:
- Oxford Reference - Use dictionaries to help with terminology. Encyclopedias provide background information, an overview of topics and issues and often lead you to further readings
- Encyclopedia of Government and Politics (online)
- Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations
- Encyclopedia of International Relations and Global Politics (online)
Tips for searching newspaper databases.
Think Tanks - can give an appreciation of government action or inaction in an area, they are research institutes which perform research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, technology, and culture.
Develop a search statement to search databases (including news databases), and other academic sources
A search statement includes a list of keywords, combined using Boolean Operators (AND; OR; NOT)
AND - this will combine concepts, all of which must be found in your list of results
senate AND reform
OR - either this concept or that concept (or both). This is helpful for generating a list of synonyms. Use synonyms to anticipate the different ways different authors may refer to the same idea. A thesaurus can be helpful for this
internet OR web OR online
NOT - do not include this concept
advertising NOT magazine
Mexico NOT city
Quotation marks - find a specific phrase
Truncation - any other combination of letters to follow
Canad* - will find Canada, Canadian, Canadian's, etc.
journalis* - will find journalism, journalist, journalistic, etc.
Combine one or more of these operators
Put a list of synonyms in brackets
(smartphone OR "mobile phone" OR "cell phone") AND (societ* OR cultur*)
Why use journal articles?
- They are more up-to-date than most books.
- They are “peer reviewed” by other scholars in the field who check for academic integrity.
- Every article will contain cited references that appear as footnotes and/or bibliographies.
OMNI Search engine located on the library home page, allows you to search across many of the library's collections simultaneously. Including books, ebooks, journal articles, and more.
See our list of recommended databases on the Political Science subject guide, which includes:
- Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
- International Political Science Abstracts
- PAIS Index
- Taylor & Francis Journals Online
- Gender Studies Database
Please note, APA has recently released its 7th Edition. This guide pertains to the 6th. For a concise guide to notable changes in editions please click here
- Carleton University guide to APA citation style
- Carleton University guide to APA tip sheet (pdf)
- Citing archival sources: Marquette University
- Citing government documents (including legislation): Simon Fraser University
- Citing international governmental organization documents: University of British Columbia
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)