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Political Science

Explore Topics

Developing a research question can be a challenge. Give yourself time to brainstorm and explore using the tips below.

Steps to Develop a Topic

Developing a good research question can sometimes be the most difficult part of the research process. If you are struggling, follow the links below.

Background: Reference Sources

Encyclopedias are helpful starting places :

  • To browse for research ideas.
  • To help focus your topic.
  • For general information about a topic, person, place, or an event (a tertiary source)
  • For more resources that provide bibliographies – which will lead to additional books and articles.

As a general rule, researchers do not cite reference (tertiary) sources in their research, but instead use them for informational purposes. 

Political Science Reference Sources in CREDO


CREDO is an online collection of over 800 reference resources, providing definitions, background information, quotations, images, and biographical information. Explore this title list of reference eBooks relating to political science for background information!

Digital Reference Resources

Digital Reference Resources
Search your topic keywords and gather background and contextual information.

Browse Call Numbers (i.e. Subjects) in the Reference Collection

Print Reference Sources
For POLITICAL SCIENCE, browse the Reference Collection, located on the main floor of Hewes Library, in the J and K call numbers. Consult below for additional areas of interest.

A General works   PB-PH Modern European Languages
B-BJ Philosophy, Psychology   PG Russian Literature
BL-BX Religion   PJ-PM Languages and Lit of Asia, Africa
C Auxiliary Sciences of History   PN, PR, PS, PZ General Literature
D History: General and Old World     English and American Literature
E-F History: America   PQ, part 1 French Literature
G Geography, Anthropology   PQ, part 2 Italian, Spanish, Portuguese Lit
H Social Science   PT, part 1 German Literature
J Political Science   PT, part 2 Dutch and Scandinavian Lit
KD Law of the United Kingdom/Ireland   Q Science
KF Law of the United States   R Medicine
L Education   S Agriculture
M Music   T Technology
N Fine Arts   U Military Science
P-PA General Philology and Linguistics   V Naval Science
  Classical Languages and Lit   Z Bibliography, Library Science

General Political Science titles


Palgrave Macmillan Dictionary of Political Thought by Roger Scruton

Covers every aspect of political thought, defining concepts and ideologies, surveying the arguments on issues, giving capsule histories of political institutions, and summarizing the thought of major political theorists.

Political Book

Big Ideas Simply Explained: The Politics Book

From ancient and medieval philosophers such as Confucius and Thomas Aquinas, to revolutionary thought leaders such as Thomas Jefferson and Leon Trotsky, to the voices who have shaped modern politics today - Mao Zedong, Malcolm X, Che Guevara, and more - The Politics Book clearly and simply explains more than 100 groundbreaking ideas in the history of political thought.

Political Government

Dictionary of Politics and Government

Terms covering world politics, international relations, local and national government and the European Union.

Political Theory

A Glossary of Political Theory by John Hoffman

Covers alphabetically both the major concepts in political theory and the key writers in the field. While ensuring accuracy and objectivity, the entries represent interpretations that are both challenging and interesting.

Political Philosophy

Political Philosophy A-Z by Jon Pike

A comprehensive, up-to-date and concise guide to one of the most important branches of philosophy.

Foreign Policy & International Relations


Africa and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History by Richard M. Juang and Noelle Morrissette

This encyclopedia explores the many long-standing influences of Africa and people of African descent on the culture of the Americas, while tracing the many ways in which the Americas remain closely interconnected with Africa.


Britain and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History by Will Kaufman and Heidi Slettedahl Macpherson

A comprehensive encyclopedia covering the close ties between Britain and the whole of the Americas, examining Britain's cultural and political legacy to the nations of the New World.


France and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History by Bill Marshall

A unique, multidisciplinary encyclopedia covering the impacts that French and American politics, foreign policy, and culture have had on shaping each country's identity.


Germany and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History by Thomas Adam

This comprehensive encyclopedia details the close ties between the German-speaking world and the Americas, examining the extensive Germanic cultural and political legacy in the nations of the New World and the equally substantial influence of the Americas on the Germanic nations.


Iberia and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History by J. Michael Francis

This comprehensive encyclopedia covers the reciprocal effects that the politics, foreign policy, and culture of Spain, Portugal, and the American nations have had on one another since the time of Columbus.


A Glossary of UK Government and Politics by Duncan Watts

A handy reference guide to the events, personnel, policies and institutions relevant to the government and politics of the United Kingdom.

U.S. Politics

This Dictionary offers a fresh, up-to-date look at US government and politics, explaining and where necessary demystifying the key terms used in discussion of the political system. Major figures, events, ideas, movements and Supreme Court cases relevant to a study of the American political system are included with the aim of allowing readers to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of the area.

A comprehensive and valuable compendium of biographies of leading women in U.S. politics, past and present, and an examination of the wide range of women's movements.

Covers the complete scandal-filled history of American political corruption.

Publication Date: 2010.  An essential resource for anyone interested in U.S. history and politics, this two-volume encyclopedia covers the major forces that have shaped American politics from the founding to today. Broad in scope, the book addresses both the traditional topics of political history--such as eras, institutions, political parties, presidents, and founding documents---and the wider subjects of current scholarship, including military, electoral, and economic events, as well as social movements, popular culture, religion, education, race, gender, and more. Primary sources in this title

This title examines the in-depth history of the first Continental Congress in 1774 and the first Federal Congress in 1789. Coverage dives into the impact and role in the shaping and foundation of early American Society and government

A comprehensive and valuable compendium of biographies of leading women in U.S. politics, past and present, and an examination of the wide range of women's movements.

Topics in Political Science

Find Books

Books inform your research question by providing:

  • contextual background information
  • detailed scholarly research to strengthen your research
  • bibliographies that may lead to additional sources

Find Books Using Library Catalogs

Hewes Library Catalog

  • Locate physical books, DVDs and media owned by Hewes Library; select Ebooks included
  • Materials may be print or digital and are immediately available on campus

I-Share Catalog

  • Locate and borrow books owned in other Illinois academic libraries
  • To request an item first login to the library catalog. Learn more about requesting materials via I-Share.
  • Materials are delivered to Hewes Library in 3-5 days *NOTE: COVID-19 quarantines will cause an added 1 day delay.*


  • A larger, international library catalog, WorldCat, allows identification of materials beyond the Hewes Library and the I-Share Catalog. (Be sure to check these catalogs first.)
  • Materials identified in WorldCat may be requested using WorldShare.
  • Items may take 7-14 days to arrive. *NOTE: COVID-19 quarantines will cause an added 1 day delay.*

Catalog Search Tips

  • Keyword Search, default, searches all words in all fields.
  • Advanced Search is located below the main search box and allows more complex searches and multiple filters.
  • For a more specific search, choose TitleAuthor or Subject.
  • Subject search focuses on just the Topic (or Subject) field. 

On the results screen, Narrow Your Search facets allow limits by format, collection, topic and more.

Narrow Search

Additional Catalogs

CARLI eBook Collection: The CARLI eBook Collection consists of 29,000+ titles available instantly to patrons.  The collection is funded by the Consortium of Academic & Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI), of which Hewes Library is a governing member.  MC patrons will find the ebook records in both the Hewes Library Catalog and the I-Share Catalog.  MC users will be prompted to authenticate using your MC network username/password the first time an EBL eBook record is selected. 

Center for Research Libraries: CRL, located in Chicago, has over five million volumes in its collection and will make extended loans of materials for research projects (4 month loan periods and generous renewals). CRL is a cooperative venture of over 200 U.S. & Canadian college and university libraries to acquire expensive and unique collections for faculty and student research. Foreign language books, journals and newspapers make up a significant percentage of the collection. CRL owns over 800,000 foreign dissertations. Much of the collection is represented in WorldCat, but not all. 

Warren County Public Library: materials from the public library in Monmouth and its three branch locations.

Databases: Find Periodical Articles

Political Science Databases

These databases locate articles published in both scholarly and popular periodicals.

Multi-Disciplinary Databases

Browse Databases in a Subject Area
Have a multidisciplinary topic or not sure which database to choose? Select a SUBJECT term that relates to your topic and a explore list of library databases within that discipline.

Scholarly Periodicals

Also known as academicrefereed, or peer-reviewed journals.

Author/Authority: Articles written by researchers or scholars in the field who report the results of original research. Other scholars evaluate the research before publication to assure its accuracy, called "peer-review."

Appearance: Generally have a sober, serious look. May contain graphs and charts, but few glossy pages or photographs. Use scholarly language with vocabulary specific to their profession or field.

Audience: Written for academics and professionals.

Citations: Articles include footnotes and a list of citations at the end of the article.

Content: Includes scholarly research for a particular profession or industry.

Frequency: Usually published bimonthly or quarterly.

types of periodicals

International News Sources

This is not an exhaustive list of news sources

U.S. News Sources

This is not an exhaustive list of news sources

Primary Sources: United States

Primary Source USA

Milestone Documents in American History

Call Number: Online and Print

"in-depth, analytical essays illuminating famous primary source documents from U.S and world history"

The Declaration of Independence in historical context : American state papers, petitions, proclamations, and letters of the delegates to the First National Congresses. 
Reference Collection: HQ1410.U49 H85 1993

The emergence of modern America (1874-1917)
Reference Collection: E661 .E447 2014

U.S. Government resources and documents; See U.S. Government TAB on this guide

Newspapers and other news sources, current and historical; see News TAB on this guide.

Statistical sources, U.S. and international; see Statistics TAB on this guide.

Primary Sources: International

Newspapers and other news sources, current and historical; see News TAB on this guide.

Statistical sources, U.S. and international; see Statistics TAB on this guide.

Google Scholar Search 

What is Google Scholar?  

Google Scholar searches academic literature found in journal websites, university repositories, academic publishers and other websites that Google identifies as scholarly. While some scholarly resources are available free online, many are not. Google Scholar is just one resource, and should be used in conjunction with other Hewes Library scholarly resources.

For best results, configure Google Scholar to identify and access materials found through Monmouth College's licensed resources (see directions).

Connect Google Scholar to the library's resources 

1. At the Google Scholar website, select the menu in the top left corner.

google settings hamburger menu

2. Select "Settings"

3. Select "Library links" 

4. Search for "Monmouth College," then select it from the list. Save.

Google Scholar

5. Subsequent searches will now indicate if an items is full text through a Monmouth College Hewes Library subscription.

Google search

Boolean Searching

Boolean operators (connector words) such as ANDOR, and NOT, create phrases based on rules of search logic.  

Operator Examples Results                                        

business AND ethics

Retrieves records that contain ALL of the search terms.

hotels OR motels

Retrieves records that contain ANY of the search terms, but does not necessarily include all of them.

java NOT coffee  

Excludes records containing the second search term.  

Truncation Searching

The “ * ” replaces any number of characters and will find all forms of a word root.

  • child* LOCATES child, children, childhood
  • therap* LOCATES therapy, therapies, therapist, therapists, therapeutic, therapeutically

Note: symbols used may differ based on the tool used.  Consult the help documentation.

Wildcard " # " replaces any extra characters that may appear in alternative spellings.

  • colo#r LOCATES color, colour

Wildcard " ? ” replaces one character

  • ne?t LOCATES neat, nest, or next, but will not find net

Phrase Searching

Phrase searching
increases the accuracy of the search by keeping two or more words together as a phrase. Use quotation marks to keep the phrase intact.

“social media”    "fairy tale"    "fake news"

Putting it All Together

A database search example using Boolean, truncation and phrase searching

Advanced search