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PSPS 3000 Research Methods

 Remember, a literature review:

  • Gathers articles that have clear connections
  • Should make clear the importance of the research question, synthesize what we know, don't know, and what the logical next steps in that research area should be. 

 

Some helpful videos:

 

Library research for PSPS 3000

Where Should I Search?

JSTOR

JSTOR is the top recommended database for the field of Political Science & Public Service. To get to it:

  1. Click Databases button on the library's homepage 
  2. Search for JSTOR, or limit by subject to Political Science & Public Service and it will be the top result.

To find articles in JSTOR:

  • Type your keywords into the search boxes and click Search
  • On the results screen, use the filters on the left side. If you are seeing too many book reviews, check the box next to Articles and it will remove the reviews.
  • Feel free to filter by publication date, age, subject, or population to get more targeted results

Other places to search:

Choose the Best Keywords

Why are keywords important?

By this point in your college career, you have had a chance to search library databases. You understand that you need keywords (not sentences) when you search a database. However, using political science related keywords might be new territory.

Things to keep in mind:

  1. Do not use full sentences or questions. Instead, reduce the language you are using down to 2-4 major terms to describe your topic
  2. Avoid misspellings
  3. Academic language will yield more academic results
  4. Overtime, language describing a topic might change. Example: 'capital punishment' and 'death penalty'. 

Where to Find Synonyms

  1. The Internet: Is your search term or concept called anything else? Look it up in an online encyclopedia to find out. For example, in the Wikipedia entry for "hypertension", the synonym high blood pressure is quickly identified in the opening sentence. This is true for most Wikipedia entries for social science and medical terminology. It is Wikipedia, so exercise caution when using this as a background reading source.
  2. Other background sources: You can also easily find synonyms in other background sources, including your lecture notes, textbooks, and print encyclopedias (yes, they still exist!).
  3. Use database subject headings: If you run a search and find a good article, look at the subject terms listed by the database. Use those terms in subsequent searches. 

Example

  1. Start with your research question:
    How do celebrities influence political campaigns? 
  1. Sort out the major terms. In this case:  
    celebrities AND influence AND political campaigns
  1. Make a list of synonyms and related terms for each of your major terms.

    Synonyms and related terms for the word celebrities:

    • actor or actress

    • musician

    • OR search for a specific celebrity (ex. Taylor Swift)

  • Synonyms and related terms for political campaigns might include:

    • a specific campaign (presidential, local, etc) 

    • or campaign year (2008) 

SAGE Research Methods

SAGE Research Methods is a how-to database. It is not where you go to find articles, instead, it's where you can find resources to help you become a better researcher. 

Some highlights:

  • Project Planner- provides articles on each step of the research process, from designing a research question to analyzing and presenting results
  • Methods- provides information about the most common research methods used, including surveys, interviews, and observational research
  • Which Stats Test?- provides a short quiz to help you select the write statistical tool for the reserach you are trying to conduct, and provides information about statistics.

SAGE Research Methods has relevant information about using SPSS, conducting interviews, best practices for creating survey questions, and tons of case studies that you could model your own work on.

Finding Data

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