Political science, governance, and international affairs: Essentials -- start here
Political science, government, and international affairs at Virginia Tech
This main subject guide for political science identifies principal resources for political and international studies research at Virginia Tech. The Other political science research guides tab is a menu that connects you to related, subordinate subject guides for the major subfields of the discipline and also for related programs in the VT School of Public & International Affairs.
Resources listed on this page are grouped into Essential databases for accessing serious literature on politics; Background information sources; Research starters; and access to selected Resources available for short-term trials.
Parts of this guide are also available in Bruce Pencek's related subject guides: Data sources for social research; News/journalism/streaming media; Advice for searching/citing/engaging scholarly literatures; and Accessing VT Library resources from off campus.
Essentials: most literature-searching will start here
- Worldwide Political Science Abstracts from ProQuestWorldwide Political Science Abstracts indexes citations and abstracts from journal articles, books, essays, book reviews, working papers, technical reports, theses, and dissertations in the social sciences related to politics. You can limit to peer-reviewed sources. 1975-present.
- FactivaFactiva provides full-text news articles and business/industry information from newswires, newspapers, business and industry magazines, television and radio transcripts, financial reports, and photos from news services. Best source for news coverage from sources outside the US, and/or in languages other than English. Most content is plain HTML, without illustrations, though other formats are available for export. News source coverage can extend as far back as 1979-present; financial data 1979-present; financial data 1960s-present.
- Policy CommonsPolicy Commons is a global portal to "gray literature" -- research publications such as reports, briefs, analyses, working papers, and datasets done to academic standards but not peer-reviewed -- produced by university research centers, "think tanks," consultancies, government agencies, inter- and non-governmental agencies, advocacy and interest groups, and more. Often problem-centered and solution-oriented, these publications can fill the gap between journalism and traditional scholarly publications.
Background and reference resources
- EIU ViewpointA key resource for political economy, EIU Viewpoint integrates Economist Intelligence Unit Country Reports and other forecasts, analyses, news, and data at the global, regional, and country level for almost 200 countries. Some content updated daily. "Two-Year Forecasts" continue approach and format of the former Country Reports; "One-Click Reports" resemble the forecasts but conspicuously do not provide tabular data. Data tables can be exported to Excel. See also the definitive Country Reports archives:
- 1996-2021: EIU.com classic platform.
- 1952-1995: Economist Intelligence Unit Country Reports Archive from ProQuest.
- Sage Knowledge: Politics & International Relations Reference ebooks from major publisher of research works and textbooks in social sciences. Expandable menu directs you to works in most major subfields of the discipline.
- Oxford Research Encyclopedias : International StudiesCollaboration between Oxford University Press and the International Studies Association brings newly commissioned articles together with existing and revised articles from the ISA's International Studies Encyclopedia (2017) to form a leading-edge, continuously updated digital resource.
- International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (2d ed) by Comprises over 3,900 articles, commissioned by 71 section editors, and includes 90,000 bibliographic references as well as comprehensive name and subject indexes; more than 80 percent of the chapters are new or updated since the original text. Both its format and integrated chapters encourage discovery and map contexts and connections within the social and behavioral sciences. Some experts prefer the first edition (2001).ISBN: 9780080970868Publication Date: 2015
- Oxford Handbooks OnlineOxford Handbooks Online provides scholarly overviews of topics through in-depth articles. We have access to handbooks in Political Science, Hhilosophy, Psychology, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Physical Sciences, History, Literature, Neuroscience, Sociology, Classical Studies, Law, Linguistics, Religion, Social Policy and Social Work.
- SAGE Research Methods Online Advanced reference resource allows users to explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings. With its focus on methodology rather than disciplines and sophisticated search options, SRMO can be used across the social sciences, health sciences, and more. Incorporates full-text content from over 720 books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and articles. Incorporates specially commissioned instructional materials illustrating the application of particular methodologies.
You can start with a hot topic
If you're fishing for a topic, often a good place to start is current controversies. If your reaction to a statement is "How could someone say something like that?", run with it -- not to refute it but to discover and explain whatever evidence and reasoning might lead a reasonable person to say "something like that" is true or right in some respect or under some circumstances, which your research and analysis will test.
The "In context" family of databases from Gale lay out pro-cons of controversies with articles and data from scholarly journals and popular sources. Use them to refine and focus your own thinking; use their references to find trustworthy scholarship, data, and primary sources; and especially to harvest on-target search terms to use in subject-oriented databases like Worldwide Political Science Abstracts or HeinOnline. These can be especially useful for political and political science/international studies research:
You risk violating the Honor Code if you rely only on the "canned" sources in these databases for assignments that expect you to do your own research design, searching, and analyses. Check with your instructor.
Often predefined topics won't keep up with events. Peer-reviewed scholarship can take two years and more to appear after an event. Journalism may be your best available source of information. News sources might identify experts in universities, government, think tanks, or industry who have published research about similar events or problems that you can apply.
- Access World News from Newsbank is a broad-based collection of news reports with a straightforward interface. (Factiva is bigger and more powerful but a bit harder to learn.)
- Academic OneFile from Gale is a bridge between journalism and other popular sources and scholarship across many disciplines. You may find it is more manageable than the "discovery" search box on the library homepage.
You can start with published data
If data have been published, there is research behind them. Reputable data collections will provide source information: who or what agency collected and analyzed the data, when. Data citations will often include titles of publications that can connect you to datasets collected over time and/or across related questions in one place or period. These data collections are good starters:
Social Sciences & History Librarian
560 Drillfield Dr
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Email is the best way to contact me with questions or appointment requests.
Office hours (walk-in and/or Zoom): T 1-3:00 pm, W-Th 2-4:00 pm (Eastern time), and by appointment.
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Interlibrary Loan Services
All current Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff, regardless of your location, may request through ILLiad for materials:
- not owned by Virginia Tech (books, articles from journals and conference proceedings, book chapters, standards, and technical papers)
- owned by Virginia Tech but are unavailable for use (print books)
- owned by Virginia Tech and available in print (scans of articles from journals and conference proceedings, book chapters, standards, and technical papers)
We ship requests via UPS to users outside the immediate Blacksburg area (Montgomery, Giles and Pulaski counties).
Articles, book chapters, and many technical papers are delivered in PDF format to your ILLiad account. Occasionally, due to copyright restrictions, a paper copy of an article or standard is held for your at the Newman User Services Desk or sent o the mailing address listed on your account.
Temporary, trial access only -- use while you can
The University Libraries at Virginia Tech regularly secure short-term, trial access to online resources in order to gauge their appropriateness to our university's teaching and research missions. These trials run in October, February, and sometimes April.
Trials are listed in a sidebar in the main Databases A-Z directory.
Each entry includes a link to a user survey. I and other subject librarians invite you to email us your detailed assessments of resources. Responses from the Virginia Tech community are vital to the library's deliberations about whether and when to acquire or enhance databases and the like.
As appropriate I will list trials and user survey links a resource trials tab in this and my other libguides. Entries for trials I may include in the body of my libguides will go away when the trial period ends.