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Political Science: Getting Started

Use this guide to help start your research in Political Science

Books to Consider

Topic Design Steps

1. Review Assignment: What's the assignment? What are the expectations for your work? Are there any specific parameters that you need to be aware of?

2. Brainstorm: Pick a topic that interests you! Do you have a strong opinion on something? Do you have a personal issue, problem, or pastime that you would like to know more about?

Librarian Tip: The research and writing will go by more quickly if you care about the topic you are researching!

3. Find Background Information: Reading an overview of a topic will allow you to better understand the landscape of what you are researching. This in turn will allow you to narrow in on a specific concept that piques your interest.

Librarian Tip: This process also allows you to find common vocabulary used in the field, which offers you keywords for your resource searching. Make a list of these keywords as you are going.

4. Focus Your Topic: Make sure to keep your work manageable by honing in on a specific thesis statement or question.

Librarian Tip: Remember to stay flexible while picking a thesis statement, if a topic is too broad or too narrow it will be hard to research. So keep in mind - picking your topic is research!

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Getting Started: Research in Political Science

Welcome to the Political Science research guide. Use the pages on this guide to learn about:

You can also visit these related guides for more research help:

Create a Search Using Commands

1. Isolate keywords from your topic.

2. Narrow your search results to include both of your keywords using AND.

"Nellie Bly" AND "investigative journalism" AND women

3. Expand your search using OR to find like terms.

"Nellie Bly" AND "investigative journalism" AND (women OR feminism)

Combining search terms with AND:

  • Narrows your search, reducing the number of results.
  • Makes the search focus more specifically on your topic.

For Example

A search for "Nellie Bly" yields 471 results results

A search for "investigative journalism" yields 6,922 results

A search for "investigative journalism" AND "Nellie Bly" yields 29 results

Combining search terms with OR:

  • Expands your search and increases number of results.

For Example

A search for "women's rights" yields 46,525 results

A search for feminism yields 97,260 results

A search for "women's rights" OR feminism yields 135,810 results

Combining search terms with NOT:

  • Narrows your search, decreasing your search results.
  • Tells the search to exclude certain terms.

For Example

A search for News yields 80,049,505 results

A search for News NOT Television yields 77,025,916 results

Use Quotation Marks to:

  • Narrow your search.
  • Combine search terms that are more than single worlds.

This shows the search engine that you want the terms to be found together. The search will look for exactly what you place in the quotation marks, so be sure there are no mistakes.

For Example

A search for Nellie Bly yields 518 results

A search for "Nellie Bly" yields 471 results

 

Use Truncation to:

  • Expand your search.
  • Give your search tool flexibility to find alternate endings for your search term.

Search engines match your terms to results; they will not automatically find an alternate version of it. Truncation tells the search to match the root of your term and gives it freedom to find whatever endings it can.

For Example

A search for Journalist yields 5,098,022 results

A search for Journalis* yields 5,778,205 results

These commands are called Boolean Operators.

Boolean

1. denoting a system of algebraic notation used to represent logical propositions, especially in computing and electronics.

What does that mean for you?

If you are having a hard time finding what you need, use the Boolean Operators outlined here to more efficiently search databases.

No matter where you are searching - the catalog, Google Scholar, a database you will want to use Boolearn Operators to refine your search to your specifications.

We are indebted to the Butler University Library's And/Or/Not box for some of the content displayed here.

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Brooke Duffy
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Kelleen Maluski
Contact:
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