Political Science: Search Tips

Resources for research in political science.

Creating a Good Search

Find more (broaden your results) with OR and wildcards:
govern*     [finds government or governmental]
legislat* or document*

Find less (narrow your results) with AND:
campaigns and fund-raising

Find less with NOT:
(public office) not president

Find less by selecting limiters (peer-reviewed, scholarly or refereed journals; date; document type; language; etc.).

In databases for a specific subject discipline, look for specialized limiters that pertain to that discipline (such as "educational level" in ERIC).

Narrow results by searching for terms in a specific field (abstract, title, subject, etc.). Subject terms (sometimes called descriptors) can vary from database to database. Using them usually improves the relevance of results so look for them in relevant citation records. Some databases also have a Thesaurus or subject terms look-up feature.

Some databases require quotation marks for an "exact phrase".

If you're not finding enough, try expanding some terms to the all text or full text field, if provided. If that doesn't help, simplify your search, and remove less critical keywords or concepts.

(1:57) Learn how logical operators AND and OR work to help you get good results in library research databases.

(2:05) Learn how to retrieve varying forms of a word and improve search results.

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What is Peer Review? What is a Scholarly Article?

Peer review is the process where experts from the same subject field or profession as the author evaluate a manuscript before it is accepted for publication in an academic or scholarly journal.

Peer-reviewed journals also may be called refereed journals.

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