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Political Science

This is a guide to research in the subject areas of politics and government.

Getting started

If you are new to conducting research:
Consider reviewing the Starting Your Research tutorial to learn the phases and processes of doing research.

  • CCL uses the Library of Congress Classification System to organize physical books in the library.
    • LC Classification – Political Science, International Affairs

      J - Political Science
      J - Official DocumentsJA - Collections and General WorksJC - Political Theory
      JK - Constitutional History and Administration
      JS - Local Government
      JV - Colonization, Emigration and Immigration
      JX - International Law, International Relations

Start your International Relations  research with these key resources:

Research Process

This graphic was adapted by Sara Lowe when working at the  Claremont Colleges Library

Literature Review v. Research Paper

What is a literature review?

A literature review can be just a simple summary of the sources, but it usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis. A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information.

How is a literature review different from an academic research paper?

The main focus of an academic research paper is to develop a new argument, and a research paper will contain a literature review as one of its parts. In a research paper, you use the literature as a foundation and as support for a new insight that you contribute. The focus of a literature review, however, is to summarize and synthesize the arguments and ideas of others without adding new contributions.

How do I know when I can stop?

Literature reviews can be tricky because you don't want to stop before you've found everything relevant to your topic. There are a couple of guidelines for knowing when to stop looking for materials.

  1. If you have done steps 1.1-1.3 (below), when you start to see the same articles over again, then you have done your due diligence and can consider your lit review complete.
    1. Searched all relevant databases, using a variety of keywords and subject headings
    2. Mined article bibliographies for their cited references
    3. Looked in Google Scholar or Web of Science to see who has cited those articles
  2. Think of the assignment timeline. If you are writing your PhD thesis you can spend more time doing a comprehensive lit review than if you only have a few weeks until an assignment is due. At some point you need to stop.


 

Characteristics of a Good Literature Review

Characteristics of a Poor Literature Review

Synthesizes available research

Basically an annotated bibliography

Critical evaluation of sources

Analysis confined to describing the work

Appropriated breadth and depth

Narrow and Shallow

Clear and concise

Confusing and Longwinded

Uses rigorous and consistent methods

Constructed arbitrarily

Related Research Guides

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Charlotte Brun
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