Political Science Methodology

APOL 316: Prof. J. M. Teigen
Guide for finding sources at the George T. Potter Library


October 15, 2007

Susan B. Kurzmann


 I. Library Homepage: http://library.ramapo.edu

  • Provides access to the catalog (OPAC), databases, interlibrary loan forms, etc.

II. Find Books at the George T. Potter Library

  • Catalog: use this to find books, periodical titles (NOT articles ), government documents, reserve items, music,and movies owned by the Library. You may limit a search by language, year(s) of publication, type of material, etc. This may take a few seconds to load.
  • Use the Basic Search to find material using Keywords
    • For example: search for "right to privacy" or right and privacy to locate a broad range of materials the library has on these keywords
    • When you find an appropriate title, click on the Subjects, etc. tab located at the top of a catalog record to see which Library of Congress subject headings are discussed in that particular book/DVD/periodical


  • Search the catalog using Subject Browse feature if you know the relevant Library of Congress subject heading
  • For example:
    • Political science--Methodology
    • Political statistics
    • Comparative government--Methodology
    • Public institutions
    • Local Elections--New Jersey
    • Election law


  • Go to Advanced Search
    • The Boolean search terms are built in for your use:
      • AND: you are commanding the system to search for material on both terms you've entered
      • OR: you are commanding the system to search for meaterial on either of the search terms you have entered
      • NOT: you are commanding the system to search for material on the first term you have entered and to exclude any material on the second term you have entered
    • The catalog system will provide morre focused results


  1. Start with broad searches. It is much easier to discard too much rather than start with too little.
  2. If you don't know the Subject Heading, use the Subjects, etc. tab located on the top of a catalog record to get to the headings. This will help you focus in on more relevant material.
  3. Can "virtually" browse the shelves by clicking on the call number in a record.

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III. Find Online Documents and Books in our Catalog

  • Documents Without Shelves Collection: Online access to U.S. documents and books via the online catalog

    • To limit your search to this collection, go to More Limits (right-hand side of the screen) and scroll down the Location Bar to select Documents Without Shelves
    • This collection includes U.S. Government publications ranging from one-page reports to 300-page books
    • Books will be accessible by chapter or section
    • Tip Don't click on print until you're sure of what you're printing!


To locate all online material, such as e-books, Documents Without Shelves titles, and databases, Scroll down the Quick limit menu (left-hand side of screen) to select Online material, and enter your search term.

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IV. Reference Material

  • The reference stacks are located on the 3rd floor (this is also the library's entrance).
  • Some useful materials for your projects:
America at the Polls Ref JK 524 .M33 2001
America Votes (v. 21, 1994+) Ref JK 1967.A8
Encyclopedia of Governmental Advisory Organizations Ref JK 468.C7 E5 2005
[Party Affiliations in the State Legislatures: A Year by Year Summary, 1796-2006] on order
Presidential Elections 1789-2000 Ref JK 524 .P6783 2002
Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States

Print edition:

Ref J 80 .A283

Statistical Abstract of the United States

Ready Reference

HA 202 .U5 2006

The United States Government Manual

Print edition:

Ref JK  421.A3 2004/2005

Vital Statistics on American Politics 2005-2006 Ref JK 274 .S74 2006
The Blackwell Dictionary of Political Science Ref JA 61.B43 1999
Brewer's Politics: A Phrase and Fable Dictionary Ref JA 61.C663 1993
Dictionary of Political Thought Ref JA 61.S37
Encyclopedias and Handbooks  
Encyclopedia of Government and Politics Ref JA 61.C66 2004
Oxford Handbook of Political Theory Ref JA 71 .O95 2006
Political Philosophy: Theories, Thinkers, Concepts Ref JA 71.P6226 2001
Additional material  
PAIS (Public Affairs Information Service) International and Archive Online access
Survey Research Methodology, 1990-1999: An Annotated Bibliography Ref  Z 7164.S667 .W35 2003


  1. Use reference books to browse for project ideas and to get started on your research
  2. Use the bibliographies at the end of articles, books, encyclopedias, and dictionaries to locate more material on your topic

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V. Finding Articles (Databases)

Some useful Databases for your projects:


Comprised of the full-text of more than 500 academic journals

LexisNexis Academic Covers top news, general news topics, and news transcripts; foreign language news sources; company, industry, and market news; and legal news
See also:  

Gallup Brain

Contains records of 70 years of public opinion polls
America's Newspapers Includes full-text articles from the electronic editions of record for more than 300 U.S. newspapers
Worldwide Political Science Abstracts Provides citations, abstracts, and indexing of literature in political science and public administration/policy

America: History & Life

Abstract databases, abstracts of articles and reviews in scholarly publications.

NOTE: If a citation is not linked to the full-text article in JSTOR, click on the Primary Catalog link to see if the full text of the article is available in our collection in print or through another database.

CountryWatch Provides political and economic surveys of 191 countries. Coverage is updated continuously.
CQ Researcher Weekly publication providing original in-depth analysis of the most current major and controversial issues of the day with complete summaries, the pros and cons, and two bibliographies
Historic Documents Published annually since 1972, includes 33 volumes of primary sources. Each volume contains approximately one hundred documents covering the most significant events of the year.

Academic Search Premier and Expanded Academic ASAP

Multidisciplinary databases that contains many full-text articles and citations.

NOTE: When only a citation is indexed, click on the Check avaialbility [at Ramapo] link to see if the full text of the article is available in our collection in print or through another database.

Ethnic NewsWatch A full-text database of the newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press
Historical NY Times Full-text of the entire NY Times from 1851-2003

Scholarly/Peer Reviewed/Refereed articles have been reviewed by a selected panel of experts in the discipline covered by that journal. Many of the databases allow you to limit your search to these articles.


  1. Switch to the Advanced Search page in a database. This will give you more control over your results.
  2. Use Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) and Quotation Marks when running a search. For Example: democracy and (realist or realism) nd critique OR (democracy or "political science") and "human rights"
  3. Always check your Spelling if the database results are zero.
  4. Use the Subject Terms or Thesaurus link, if available, to find the best terms to use in a database.

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VI.  Interlibrary Loan and Journal Finder

  • Interlibrary Loan: allows studens to borrow a book or article that the George T. Potter library does not own. There is a link from the Journal Finder page.
  • Journal Finder: locate the full text of articles in specific periodicalss (journals, newspapers, magazines)to which we have access either in our print or microform collection or through a full-text database.

Both of these links can be found under QUICK LINKS on the library's homepage.

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VII. Preparing Bibliographies

  • Citing Sources (Duke University) for examples of APA, ASA, Chicago, MLA, and Turabian citation styles
  • Style handbooks are also kept on reserve at the Circulation Desk
  • Always be consistent and follow the examples for the required style format

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VIII. Web Sources

  • For Internet searching, access the library's link to Evaluating Websites to determine if the site is authoritative enough to use in your paper.

      Useful Websites

  • FEDSTATS:   Statistics from more than100 U.S. Federal agencies


  • FRED:  Federal Reserve Economic Data


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    Need more help? Visit or call the Reference Desk: 201.684.7574


    Use QandA NJ.org, a 24/7 virtual chat service with a reference librarian


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