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Political Science Research Guide

  • Find Background Info
  • Find Books and Films
  • Find Articles
  • Find Country Data
  • Citing Sources

Find Background Info

Background sources, such as specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries, are an essential piece of the research process. They can help you:

  • Gather information about your topic and understand the scope of the research.
  • Locate reliable sources and clarify keywords.
  • Pinpoint important authors, texts, ideas, and keywords about the research area. Knowing what the primary phrases and concepts are will help you a lot as you are searching library databases and online sources.

Credo Reference

Credo Reference is a multi-publisher collection of high quality reference titles covering everything from the arts to astronomy, law to literature, and science to Shakespeare. The collection currently contains over 162 titles taken from 36 different reference publishers and more titles are being added. Available titles also include a range of multimedia options including thousands of high quality diagrams, photographs, maps, and audio files. Credo includes several books on topics in political science.

Search Credo Reference

Political science books in Credo

Find Books and Films

Print and e-books are valuable sources for academic research. They will help you to gain an overview of your topic and often contain in-depth information about the scholarship or history of research on a subject. Some books are written by single authors while others include essays or chapters by multiple scholars within a discipline. Don’t let the length of books intimidate you because you don’t need to read them from cover to cover. Look at the table of contents and index to find the sections that are relevant to your work.

Find Books Using GriffinSearch

You can use GriffinSearch to find print and e-books available through Giovale Library. To get started, search by keyword or type in the title of a book here:

Academic Videos Online (AVON)

AVON provides unlimited access to a comprehensive selection of videos curated for the educational experience.

Search Academic Videos Online

Videos about Politics

WorldCat lets you search for books, articles, videos, and other material that are available in libraries worldwide. If you are doing in-depth research on a topic and are considering requesting resources through interlibrary loan, WorldCat can help you discover resources that might not be in the Giovale Library collection.

Search WorldCat

Hathi Trust

Hathi Trust provides millions of digitized books from libraries around the world. Materials are made freely available to the extent permitted by the law.

Search Hathi Trust

InterLibrary Loan (ILL)

InterLibrary Loan is a service where patrons of one library can borrow books and other materials, and access journal articles that are owned by another library.

InterLibrary Loan

Utah Academic Library Consortium

Giovale Library participates in the Utah Academic Library Consortium (UALC) and Westminster College students have reciprocal circulation privileges at UALC partner libraries. Each UALC library has different circulation policies, but all require a current, valid, legal photo identification and proof of current enrollment at Westminster. Some libraries may also require other verification methods, so it is recommended that you contact the member library you are interested in for details.

Utah Academic Library Consortium

Find Articles

The Giovale Library provides access to a number of subject databases that you can use to find journal articles on topics within a specific discipline or field of study. The databases listed on this page are those that are most useful for finding research published in the field of political science.


GriffinSearch is a good starting place if you are looking for books, journal articles, films, and other material available in the library. In addition to searching the Giovale Library catalog for physical materials, GriffinSearch finds e-books and articles from several of our databases.

Search GriffinSearch


JSTOR is an archive of full text articles from journals in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.  It includes retrospective coverage of publications as well as access to many current journals.  Pro tip: In advanced search you can limit to search Political Science or Law journals. 

Search JSTOR

Legal Collection

Centered on the discipline of law and legal topics, Legal Collection is a collection of scholarly peer-reviewed publications including law journals, documents, and case studies. Legal Collection offers full text for more than 260 of the world's best law journals. This database provides information centered on the discipline of law and legal topics such as criminal justice, international law, federal law, organized crime, medical, labor & human resource law, ethics, the environment and much more.

Search Legal Collection


GenderWatch is a full text database of publications that focus on the impact of gender across a broad spectrum of subject areas. GenderWatch supports programs in business, health sciences, history, political science, public policy, sociology and contemporary culture, gender and women's studies, and more. PUblications include academic and scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, regional publications, books, booklets and pamphlets, conference proceedings, and government, NGO, and special reports. This database is not included in GriffinSearch.

Search GenderWatch

Sources by Region

Latin America

Fuente Academica

Fuente Academica is a unique collection of scholarly academic journals from renowned Latin America, South American, and Spanish publishers. This database provides full text and PDFs for more than 100 scholarly Spanish language journals.

Search Fuente Academica

Red de Revistas Científicas de América Latina, El Caribe, España, y Portugal (Redalyc)

Open access database that provides full text access to journals about Latin America in the social sciences and the humanities. Mainly published in Latin America, Spain, and Portugal. Created by the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México.

Search Redalyc

Latin America Open Archives Portal (LAOAP)

"The Latin America Open Archives Portal is a project of the Latin Americanist Research Resources Project—LARRP, in collaboration with the Latin America Network Information Center—LANIC, to improve access to social sciences grey literature produced in Latin America."

Search LAOAP

SCIELO: Scientific Electronic Library Online

Open access social science and scientific journals from Latin America.


Middle East

Middle East—Topics & Arguments

"Middle East—Topics & Arguments (META) is an international interdisciplinary open access journal. It is published half-yearly by the Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS) at the Philipps-Universität Marburg."

Search META

University of Cambridge Islamic Manuscripts

Online archive of Islamic manuscripts.

Search the University of Cambridge Islamic Manuscripts

Sociedad de Estudios Iranios y Turanios

"Sociedad de Estudios Iranios y Turanios was born in 2014 in Spain. The aim of this society is to promote and improve the study of the Iranian and Turanian linguistics, history, culture, etc. not only in Spain, but also worldwide. This is possible thanks to the meetings and workshops organized by the members of the society, as well as the journals and other types of available publications."

Search Sociedad de Estudios Iranios y Turanios


African Studies Abstracts Online

The open access catalog of the African Studies Center Library at the University of Leiden (Holland) is a database of articles in journals as well as books. Full text is not available, but journals cited may be available in Griffin Search or via ILL.

Search African Studies Abstracts Online

African Studies Thesaurus

"A structured vocabulary of over 12,000 English terms in the field of African studies, the African Studies Thesaurus is developed and maintained by staff at the library of the African Studies Centre Leiden." It includes "the names of countries and regions, ethnic groups, African languages, African policies, and political parties in Africa...British English is preferred, but American-English variants are included as non-preferred terms."

Search the African Studies Thesaurus

African Online Digital Library

The African Online Digital Library (AODL) is a portal to multimedia collections about Africa. MATRIX, in cooperation with the African Studies Center at Michigan State University, is partnering with universities and cultural heritage organizations in Africa to build this resource.

Search the African Online Digital Library

16th–Early 20th Century Maps of Africa

Digital copies of 113 antique maps from the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University.

Search 16th–Early 20th Century Maps of Africa


The Asia-Pacific Journal

Peer reviewed, open access journal that focuses on the Asia-Pacific region.

Search the Asia-Pacific Journal

Japanese Institutional Repositories Online

Eighty-four academic institutions participated in this repository venture. It contains theses, dissertation, research papers, departmental bulletin papers, and journal articles. Searchable in English and Japanese.

Search the Japanese Institutional Repositories

Find Country Data

You may need up-to-date data on countries you are studying. Below are sources that will provide you with reliable data on countries from around the world.

CIA World Factbook

Provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.

Search the CIA World Factbook

BBC News Country Profiles

Guide to history, politics, and economic background of countries. Included are basic statistics, profiles of governmental leaders, and other relevant data. They also include audio and video clips from the BBC archive.

Search BCC News

Bilateral Relations Fact Sheets

Bilateral Relations Fact Sheets (formerly known as Background Noise) include facts about the land, people, history, government, political conditions, economy, and foreign relations of independent states, some dependencies, and areas of special sovereignty. These fact sheets are created and updated by the US State Department of State.

Search Bilateral Relations Fact Sheets

Statistics Bureau of Japan

Statistics provided by the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications

Search Statistics Bureau of Japan

American FactFinder

Provides easy access to Census Bureau services, including: decennial census, community facts, economic census, population estimates, and more.

Search American FactFinder

Citing Sources

Citing your sources helps you avoid plagiarism and shows that you’ve done research to become knowledgeable about your topic. Proper citations allow your readers to track down your sources and help them understand how your research is connected to the work of others in your field. On this page, you will find guides and tools to help you format citations, and you will learn about what constitutes plagiarism.

How to Cite Sources

With all of the many ways that you can plagiarize someone’s work, either accidentally or on purpose, how can you make sure that you’re citing your sources correctly each and every time? One way is to become familiar with reputable sources that will help you learn or confirm that how you are citing your source is correct. Political Science uses both the Chicago Manual of Style and APA. It is important to talk to your professor to find out what citation style you should use.

PurdueOWL contains writing guides, grammatical rules, and citation help that will assist with many writing projects. The Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide is a thorough resource on everything you need to know about Chicago formatting and style. PurdueOWL also has a helpful Formatting Guide for APA. Remember to ask your professor which style guide you should use.

The library has a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association 6th edition behind the circulation desk that can be consulted as well.

Zotero is the ideal tool to gather, analyze, and document all of your sources. It is compatible with GriffinSearch and other library databases, allowing you to save citations and articles while you research. Visit the Zotero website to find out more, or stop by the library for some help getting started.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism means taking someone else’s work or ideas and trying to pass them off as your own. Plagiarism can either be intentional or unintentional, and even the most careful writer could accidentally plagiarize without fully knowing it. For example, did you know that it is plagiarism even if you misattribute a quote to the wrong author? Even if you cited the source and took care to put it in your bibliography, if the wrong person received credit for someone else’s work, it can still be considered plagiarism. Other forms of plagiarism include:

  • Copying and pasting someone else’s work and turning it in as your own
  • Using a quote from someone without giving them credit
  • Not putting a quotation in quotation marks
  • Changing a few words here and there, but keeping the main ideas of a sentence without giving credit to the original author
  • Copying pictures from Google or another website to use without saying where you found the image

Of course, all of these scenarios of potential plagiarism can be avoided by knowing how to properly cite your sources.

Need help with your research?

Get in touch with:

Emily Swanson

Emily Swanson

Liaison Librarian for Political Science

Librarians are happy to answer questions via email, phone, or in-person.

Contact Emily with a question or to schedule a research help appointment.

Chat with a Librarian

Use the chat box below to ask the library staff a question. If chat is unavailable or we don’t respond quickly, please use the email form on our Get Research Help page and a library staff member will contact you as soon as we are available.