Political science, governance, and international affairs: Recommended starting points

Political science, government, and international affairs at Virginia Tech

Political science is the systematic study of the ways communities are (or could be) organized, preserved, and changed – of conflicting ideas of justice and various dimensions of power – has occupied great thinkers and scholars for millennia. There are virtually no fields of human activity that neither affect nor are affected by politics.

This subject guide identifies resources for research across the conventional subfields of the discipline; for aedditional specialized resources for subfields and related fields, see the "other political science guides" tab, above.

Controversies and topics in the news

If you're fishing for a topic, often a good place to look 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 of good will to say "something like that" is true or right in some respect or under some circumstances that you will explain. 

The "in context"  databases lay out pro-cons of controversies with evidence and arguments from scholarly 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 dat bases like Worldwide Political Science Abstracts or HeinOnline.  

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.

Background: overview of politics science, government, and international affairs

Most literature-searching will start here

Social Sciences & History Librarian

Bruce  Pencek's picture
Bruce Pencek
3050 Newman Library (MC 0434)
560 Drillfield Dr
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Office hours (academic year):
Tu 1-3 pm,
Wed 2-4 pm,
and by appointment.
(540) 231-2140

Ask a Librarian

Temporary, trial access only -- use while you can

Tech's University Libraries seek user input about possible purchases of online resources; October, February, and April are the primary trial months.  Let us know how (if...) a trial fits the research, teaching/learning, and public service missions of the university.  Share your judgments through the short survey linked to each trial blurb and/or more detailed remarks in an email to a subject librarians.

All active trials are listed in a sidebar on the Databases A-Z guide, usually including their expiration dates and links to online user evaluation surveys.  Here I list current trials of likely interest to the departments I serve.