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POLSC4100 - Natoli

Welcome to the course guide for the Political Science Senior Seminar with Dr. Natoli.  This guide provides a gateway to the rich array of resources available in print, in our subscription databases, and freely online.  Recommended resources are grouped into broad categories, shown by the tabs at the top of the guide.  Please also consider the "Related Research Guides" listed at the right.
Finding and Evaluating resources
  • Google Scholar Restricted Resource
    Look for Full-Text at Emmanuel at the right of articles retrieved. In some cases you may need to click on the more option below the item record to access the Full-Text at Emmanuel link.
  • OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access Repositories) Unrestricted Resource
    "The OpenDOAR service provides a quality-assured listing of open access repositories around the world. OpenDOAR staff harvest and assign metadata to allow categorisation and analysis to assist the wider use and exploitation of repositories." SHERPA Services, University of Nottingham

  • Think outside the box and search in any database that might be relevant.
  • Create a focused search string of several keywords, using Boolean operators.
  • Remember that different databases use different indexing; for instance, in a multi-disciplinary database you would need to use “economics” or “economy” in the search string.  In EconLit, you would not need to do so.
  • Scan the retrievals from your search to determine the effectiveness of your search string.
  • Don’t totally abandon the search string—just tweak it a bit, so that you have control over the variables.
  • Use the limiters provided by a database (e.g., keyword, abstract, full-text, author, etc.) to tweak your search.
  • Keep an open mind as you search.  Read abstracts and be willing to follow a path in your research to help focus your thinking and refine your topic.
  • Don’t look for the perfect article—you may have to write it!

EVALUATION—Finding the best content possible in print or online
Ask two questions: 
  1. Is the source credible in its own right? 
  2. Is the source useful for my own paper topic?
  • Credibility of the author (credentials include: degrees held; affiliation; prior publications)
  • Credibility of a website (evaluation of a website includes: publisher’s information, whether a corporate entity or individual; maintenance date; link to the author/maintainer’s biographical information; domain; intended audience; references for sources of content)
  • Accuracy  of information
    Question an author’s data gathering:  What are the sources?  Are sources easily identifiable using the references given? Is the information biased or outdated? Does age matter in relation to the topic?
  • Verifying primary sources
    Have you found the best edition of a primary source?  (This is especially important when you are using an online edition—evaluate the website; google the editor.)
If credible, is the source useful for my topic?
  • Is the level or type of information appropriate? (Topical encyclopedias provide helpful — often necessary — background, and their signed articles should be included in your citations; but these are not central to your discussion at the senior seminar level.)
  • Is the work a case study or quantitative or qualitative analysis?  Be aware of these different types of research.
  • Am I able to handle the material well? (Be aware of using material that you don’t understand completely.  This may tempt you to use ideas that are not your own and lead to unintentional plagiarism.)
Evaluate as you search.  Technology is fast and indiscriminate—it can pull in anything.  Read abstracts and scan potentially helpful articles before you print them to avoid being overwhelmed by paper later on.  At this point, think and make notes on how a source relates to your work.

Begin to search early and think about what you’ve found.  Give yourself time to think and search again to fill in gaps and accommodate new paths that your research will probably take. 
Need Help?
Related Research Guides
General Reference
Following are examples of print reference books and e-books that may be useful to some of you in the course of your research.  Also consider searching our library catalog or e-book collections directly.

Print Resources
  • American presidential campaigns and elections REFERENCE JK1965 .A57 2003
  • Guide to the Presidency REFERENCE JK516 .C57 2008
  • Historical atlas of U.S. presidential elections 1788-2004 REFERENCE G1201.F9 H5 2006
  • Oxford Handbook of Gender and Politics REFERENCE HQ1236 .O99 2013

Related Research Guides
The links below provide access to scholarly articles and similar materials; many of these are likely familiar to you.  Sometimes the same journal is housed in multiple databases.  If you have a specific citation, or wish to browse a particular journal, type the journal name into the Library's Full-Text Finder.  For news articles, consult the Newspapers research guide listed at the right.

JSTOR Restricted Resource
A total of more than 900 full-text scholarly journal titles in an online archive beginning with the first issue of each title. The archive includes nine JSTOR Arts and Sciences Collections. In JSTOR, there is usually a time lag in full-text content. Use JSTOR in conjunction with our current online databases and print holdings. (See also Example of a Search in JSTOR )

Project MUSE® Restricted Resource
Offers over 400 quality journal titles from nearly 100 not-for-profit publishers. Project MUSE® covers the fields of literature and criticism, history, the visual and performing arts, cultural studies, education, political science, gender studies, economics, and many others.

CQ Researcher Restricted Resource
In-depth coverage of current events, providing full-length articles that include an overview, historical background, chronology, pro/con feature, plus resources for additional research.

Academic Search Premier Restricted Resource
Multidisciplinary database with extensive full-text coverage in biology, chemistry, engineering, physics, psychology, religion, theology and other disciplines in the humanities. Indexes 8,450 publications with full text for more than 4,600 of those titles (more than 3,900 are peer-reviewed). PDF backfiles to 1975 or earlier for more than one hundred journals. Searchable cited references for more than 1,000 publications.

Academic OneFile (1980 - current) Restricted Resource
Contains peer-reviewed, full-text articles from the world's leading journals and reference sources; extensive coverage of the physical sciences, technology, medicine, social sciences, the arts, theology, literature, and other subjects. Includes full-text coverage of the New York Times back to 1985. Millions of full-text articles, updated daily.

Military & Government Collection Restricted Resource
Designed to offer current news pertaining to all branches of the military and government, this database offers a thorough collection of periodicals, academic journals, and other content pertinent to the increasing needs of those sites. It provides cover-to-cover full text for nearly 300 journals and periodicals and indexing and abstracts for nearly 400 titles.

EconLit™ with Full Text Restricted Resource
Published by the American Economic Association; provides full-text for nearly 600 publications including titles from the American Economic Association (all with no embargo), such as: American Economic Review, Journal of Economic Literature, and Journal of Economic Perspectives; citations and abstracts to economic research dating back to 1969, covering all fields of economics, including capital markets, country studies, econometrics, economic forecasting, environmental economics, government regulations, labor economics, monetary theory, and urban economics.

CountryWatch Restricted Resource
Provides country-specific intelligence and data on all countries, including daily news coverage, intelligence briefings, and up-to-date articles from regional news wire services across the globe.
Related Research Guides
Web Resources
Below are the websites of select research organizations, advocacy groups, government offices, intergovernmental organizations, and academic institutions that provide information aligned with class research areas.  Explore the related research guides to the right as well.

U.S. Census Bureau
Click on the Geography tab to find interactive maps and the Data tab to find data tools and visualizations.

Historical Election Statistics (Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives)
"Official vote counts for federal elections since 1920 from the official sources compiled by the Office of the Clerk."  Records are in .PDF format.
Bureau of Justice Statistics
Resource Type: Web Site
Office of Justice Programs.
Brookings Institution
A "nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC."  Search by topic and use the "Expert" tab by country or region to access articles by experts in a specific region.

Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan "fact tank" that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It does not take positions on policy issues. Click on Datasets link to find statistical reports arranged by broad research areas and to download data sets. Select Topics link to search by subject or among polling questions.  
The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2012
"[A]n online exhibition presenting more than 300 television commercials from every election year since 1952, when the first campaign TV ads aired." Museum of the Moving Image.

American Presidency Project
Contains more than 100,000 documents "related to the study of the Presidency."  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters,  University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School:Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy
Browse by century or document collection. The text comparison feature allows readers to view two versions of the same documents simultaneously. Maintained on Yale Law School's Lillian Goldman Law Library web site.

Miller Center of Public Affairs (University of Virginia
Resource Type: Web Site "A nonpartisan institute that seeks to expand understanding of the presidency, policy, and political history, providing critical insights for the nation's governance challenges."  Contains historical summaries, oral histories, speech transcripts, analyses, and other information about the presidents.

American Presidents: Life Portraits
Search C-SPAN's large video library for analyses of the lives and administrations of all American presidents.  For example, enter "life portrait of [president's full name]" into the search box.

Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics
Resource Type: Web Site CAWP funds and collects research focusing on women candidates, trends in elections, and historical context.

Women in Congress
Resource Type: Web Site Online exhibition of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Women in the Senate
Resource Type: Web Site Online exhibition of the U.S. Senate.

UN Women - Women's Leadership and Political Participation
Resource Type: Web Site Information on women's political participation around the world.

National Women's Political Caucus
Resource Type: Web Site "A multipartisan, multicultural grassroots organization dedicated to increasing women's participation in the political field and creating a political power base designed to achieve equality for all women."

Republican National Committee (GOP)
The official site of the Republican National Committee. Includes explanation of the national party plaform and access to state party information.

Democratic National Committee
The official site of the Democratic National Committee.  Includes explanation of the national party plaform and access to state party information.

Voting America: United States Politics, 1840-2008 (University of Richmond)
Resource Type: Web Site "Examines long-term patterns in presidential election politics in the United States from the 1840s to today as well as some patterns in recent congressional election politics....The project offers a wide spectrum of animated and interactive visualizations of how Americans voted in elections over the past 168 years."

Center for Voting and Democracy (
Research organization providing data and analysis on such issues as national and worldwide elections, voting rights, and women's political participation.

Massachusetts Elections Division, Secretary of the Commonwealth
Contains information about voter registration, where to vote, sample ballots, and more.

Sunlight Foundation
Resource Type: Web Site "A nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for open government globally and uses technology to make government more accountable to all."  Provides access to data related to campaign finance, lobbying, and earmarks, among other issues.

Follow the Money
"[I]ncludes a 50-state database of 100,00+ lobbyists and clients who register annually, and a 50-state database of contributions documenting $28 billion."

Campaign Finance Institute
A non-partisan think tank focused on campaign finance in both federal and state elections.

Center for Responsive Politics (
An action-oriented research organization that provides data and written analysis on the effect of interest groups on elections and policy.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (case, opinion, and interpretation)
Provided by FindLaw.

Brennan Center for Justice (New York University School of Law)
"The Center’s work ranges from voting rights to campaign finance reform, from ending mass incarceration to preserving Constitutional protection in the fight against terrorism." It considers iteslf "part think tank, part advocacy group, part cutting-edge communications hub."

Massachusetts Law about Elections and Voting (resource guide)
Resource Type: Web Site Compiled by the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
For information about grant opportunities, select Funding & Grants from the top menu. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Commonwealth Fund
The Fund's mission is "supporting independent research on health care issues and making grants to improve health care practice and policy. An international program in health policy is designed to stimulate innovative policies and practices in the United States and other industrialized countries."

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) - Health
Resource Type: Web Site The OECD's gateway to information on health policies and priorities of countries around the world.

European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies
"supports and promotes evidence-based health policy-making through comprehensive and rigorous analysis of the dynamics of health care systems in Europe." A partnership of national governments, intergovernmental organizations, and academia.

Kaiser Family Foundation
Resource Type: Web Site "A non-profit organization focusing on national health issues, as well as the U.S. role in global health policy."  Provides research on the Affordable Care Act, the state of private insurance, and women's health, among other issues.

Related Research Guides
Citing Sources