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This page has some sources and ideas for finding information on political science topics within the Diplomacy, Defense & Development learning track. It may be helpful for students in courses such as POL 131, POL 132, POL 141, POL 231, POL 343, POL 442, and more.
Places to look for information
Background sources can be helpful if you are trying to get quick facts or basic information about important ideas, people, events, and more. Some examples in this area include:
The SAGE encyclopedia of surveillance, security, and privacy
Provides articles by prominent international scholars on how surveillance has come to be an integral part of how our contemporary society operates worldwide and how it impacts security and privacy.
Oxford international encyclopedia of peace
Provides entries on historical, political, theoretical and philosophical issues relating to peace and conflict, including major figures, major events, organizations, theories, etc.
Encyclopedia of global justice
Provides entries on global justice topics and issues that explore the consequences of global interdependence, including major concepts, conflicts, organizations, individuals, etc.
The Princeton encyclopedia of the world economy
Provides entries on key elements of the world economy on topics in international trade, finance, production, and economic development, such as trade agreements, offshore outsourcing, foreign aid, etc.
Encyclopedia of international relations and global politics [print]
Provides entries on all aspects of global international relations including subjects like diplomacy, military affairs, international political economy, and theory.
To look for information from other background sources, search for your terms in the Library Catalogue and select 'Reference Entries' from the Resource Type filter on the left side of the results. You can also explore the general Background reference sources page and the Background information page for Political Science.
Databases are collections of information that often deal with a specific topic or type of resource and can include academic articles, newspaper articles, reports, images, and more. Searching in databases can give you more focused sets of results, though you may notice some overlap with the Library Catalogue. Here are some suggested databases for this area:
Complete World Development Reports Online
The World Bank's major analytical publication provides access to articles on topics such as conflict and development, finance, and labour.
Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO)
Provides access to working papers, policy briefs, current analysis and commentary, scholarly journal articles, e-books, and videos on theory and research in international affairs.
Provides access to citations with abstracts from economics journals, books, and working papers on a variety of international economics and labour topics, including economic growth, international economics, urban and regional economics, etc.
Provides access to full-text, current issues of newspapers from around the world, including thousands of newspapers in over 40 languages from Canada and internationally.
Digital National Security Archive
Contains a comprehensive set of declassified government documents central to U.S. foreign and military policy since 1945.
To look for information from other databases, you can explore a broader selection of databases in the Books + articles page for Political Science, or look at the full list of Political Science databases. Depending on your topic, you might also want to check databases for other fields, such as History, Economics, and International Studies. To find these, go to the main Article databases pages and pick the field you want from the dropdown menu in the first box.
International Studies information resources (SFU Research Guide)
Provides information and links to students of International Studies who are learning about societies, economies, and political systems in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East.
Ways to look for academic sources
This section outlines some tips and strategies you can use when searching for information in academic sources. To learn more or to get more search ideas, see the Library Catalogue search guide or the general Help pages.
Generating search terms
To come up with terms that you can use to start searching, think about the topic or title of your project and decide on the most important words. For example:
- The role of NGOs in post-conflict reconstruction in Uganda.
Next, brainstorm synonyms, related terms or ideas, and alternate spellings (if relevant) for each of your key concepts (consider broader and more specific terms):
- NGO = nongovernmental organizations, charities, Red Cross, Red Crescent, Oxfam, War Child, etc.
- post-conflict = postwar, post-war, antebellum, peacetime, etc.
- reconstruction = development, redevelopment, recovery, relief, peace-building, nation-building, etc.
- Uganda = East Africa, Eastern Africa, Republic of Uganda, Kampala, Buganda, etc.
As you search, try different combinations of these words, and look for other words that may also describe your topic. You may find that your results will change significantly based on which words you use.
Also keep in mind that the words used to describe something may have changed over time. You can also get more ideas for search terms from background sources or articles on your topic.
Focusing your search
When searching the Library Catalogue and most databases, you can use the filters on the left side of your search results to narrow your results. Consider narrowing by resource type (e.g. book), date published, and more. Narrowing by date can be especially helpful for finding primary sources from a certain year or era.
Using operators like AND, OR, asterisk (*), and quotation marks (" ") with your search terms can also help you focus your search and get different combinations of results:
- Searching for reconstruction AND Uganda will connect these different ideas and show results that contain both of them anywhere in the text.
- Searching for Uganda OR East Africa will connect these related words and show results that contain either of them.
- Searching for develop* will search develop, develops, developer, development, etc.
- Searching for "post conflict reconstruction" will only show results where these three words appear together in this order.
You can also use some of these techniques in general web searches. For more examples, see the Library Catalogue search guide to power searching.
Using subject headings
Once you have found a book or article that works for you, you can sometimes use the subject headings for that item to find similar materials. Subject headings are specific phrases that are assigned to items (a bit like hashtags in social media). Searching with subject headings can often give more relevant results than searching with keywords.
You can find and click on subject headings in the records for many items. You can also search for subject headings using the Advanced Search in the Library Catalogue and in many databases. Here are a few examples of subject heading searches for this area: