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POL 313: Political Ideologies: Library research guide

This research guide is intended to help you get started with your POL 313: Political Ideologies course assignment research. 

If you need help, please contact Mike McIntosh, Liaison Librarian at 778.782.5043 or or Ask a librarian.

Getting Started

 Background Information

Do you need some basic definitions or background information?  Try these subject-related resources:

Or check out our Online Reference Sources page for links to general encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, etc.

Books and Reports

Search the Library Catalogue to find print and electronic books, journals and reports on your topic.

Begin to search your keyword in a Basic search to find all the books and reports remotely related to your topic and then look at the record of a relevant book to find the best subject headings.  Keyword searches ensure that you do not miss finding any relevant material but you will often also retrieve items that are off topic.  Subject searches will find the most relevant books on your topic but it may be difficult to find the right subject heading(s) for your topic.

Journal Article Indexes

See Databases in Political Science for a complete list of subject-related journal article databases online.  Some recommended databases for course-related research topics include:

  • Politica Science Complete
    Covers political theory, comparative politics, law and legislation and non-governmental organizations.
  • International Political Science Abstracts
    Topics include method and theory; political thinkers and ideas; political and administrative institutions; political processes (public opinion, attitudes, parties, forces, groups, and elections); international relations; and national and area studies.
    Searchable, archival collection of core scholarly arts, humanities and social sciences journals.
  • Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO)
    Comprehensive source for theory and research in international affairs. It includes working papers from university research institutes, occasional papers series from NGOs, foundation-funded research projects, proceedings from conferences, books, journals and policy briefs. 
  • Canadian Electronic Library
    Includes publications from a variety of Canadian public policy institutes, research institutes, think tanks, advocacy groups, government agencies and university research centers.
  • CBCA Complete
    Covers Canadian topics including business, politics, literature, history and news events.
  • Ipsos News Centre
    Polls, public opinion and research information on international topics including politics, technology, health, finance, consumer products and consumer trends.

Other general databases that they also be of interest include:

  • Academic Search Complete
    A large, multidisciplinary database that can be a good starting point for most research topics.  It has articles from both popular and scholarly journals.  Can you distinguish between the two?  See What is a Scholarly Journal? for help.
  • America: History & Life
    Contains literature on all aspects of U.S. and Canadian history, culture and current affairs.
  • Google Scholar
    Allows you to search for scholarly publications in a wide variety of subject areas via Google.  *Tip: Make sure to connect through the library website's Journal articles & databases page (instead of through the web) for access to additional content available to SFU users.

News Resources

  • Keesings Record of World Events
    A monthly digest of concise, detailed reports of worldwide political and economic affairs taken from the world's press from 1931 onwards.
  • PressReader
    Current issues of newspapers from around the world for the past 30 days.
  • Canadian Newsstream
    Fulltext of major Canadian newspapers and Canwest's small-market BC papers from 1985 onwards.
  • Lexis Nexis
    International news coverage, business news, legal cases and law reports.  Dates back to the early 1970s.
  • Alternative Press
    The most complete guide to alternative & radical media dating back to 1969.  Includes editorials, regular columns, speeches and interviews.


Search the websites of known or reliable sources, such as government websites and the websites of political parties, social movements, research institutes and think tanks.  Alternatively, search the personal websites or blogs of academics.  Try to avoid commercial websites.  Look for the words gov, org, edu in the URLs of the websites you visit.  From reliable websites, follow the links to explore your topic further and find new resources.

Here are some sample websites:

Evaluate websites the same way you would evaluate books or journals articles.  Consider the currency, authority, accuracy, objectivity, quality, cohesiveness and reasonableness of the website you are examining.

Writing and Citing

Use the SFU Department of Political Science Guidelines for Writing Essays and Research Papers and the SFU Student Learning Commons' Writing for University to guide you as you write your research paper.

You may also want to peruse the following books:

  • The Political Science Student Writer's Manual [print]
  • Social Sciences Research: Research, Writing and Presentation Strategies for Students [print and online]
  • Academic Writing: An Introduction [print]

The Student Learning Commons offers students a wide range of academic writing, learning, and study strategies services including free one-on-one consultations and workshops.

You need to correctly cite all of the books, journal articles and websites that you used in your research.  Start with the SFU Library's Citation + Style Guide.  A couple of other guides that you may want to look at are the Citing Sources (Duke University Libraries).

Citing your sources and creating the reference list is time consuming.  Take notes throughout your research and make sure to mark the page number(s) of passages you plan to paraphrase or directly quote in your research paper.

Consider using a citation management tool called RefWorks to organize your references and automatically generate a bibliography from your references. 

Learning how to properly credit others when you use their ideas is a difficult, but important, part of research.  Start with the SFU Library's interactive tutorial Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism to test yourself and to learn more about plagiarism.  Also read the SFU Library's Plagiarism Guide for further discussion of this critical topic and for links to other plagiarism guides.