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PIT POST 70 - Research Methods in Political Studies- Professors Van Sickle Ward Spring 2021

Course Guide

Primary Sources Political Science

  • government records
  • photographs
  • speeches
  • maps
  • firsthand accounts (such as diaries or memoirs)
  • drawings
  • laws
  • letters
  • blog posts
  • works of art
  • raw data (such as from polls or censuses)
  • posters
  • works of fiction
  • interviews
  • newspaper articles
  • and more!

To find primary sources specifically, couple the topic of your subject heading with relevant subheadings that relate to the historical time period, place of origin, and item format of the materials that interest you. Use the Library Search for materials.

These "complex subjects" (containing more than one idea) have their own particular notation.

Example: if you are looking for letters written by political insurgents, you might try searching for "Insurgency - Politics - Letters" for more targeted results.

Examples of Primary Sources in Political Science

Find articles with a particular methodology

Often, you may want to find research articles that use a specific methodology, like literature reviews, systematic reviews, or empirical methods.

Using ADVANCED SEARCH in the database PsycINFO allows you to search by methodology.
Under the search boxes, scroll down until you see a limiting box for METHODOLOGYpsycinfo methodology limiter

Video for Finding Empirical Articles:

For this assignment you will need to find an article that reviews empirical literature or an empirical article.
What is an empirical article?
An empirical article reports on research conducted by the authors. The research can be based on observations or experiments.   
What types of research make an article empirical?
An empirical article may report a study that used quantitative research methods, which generate numerical data and seek to establish causal relationships between two or more variables. They may also report on a study that uses qualitative research methods, which objectively and critically analyze behaviors, beliefs, feelings, or values with few or no numerical data available for analysis
How can I tell if an article is empirical?
•    Check the publication in which the article appears. Is it scholarly? Most empirical articles will be in scholarly journals.
•    Read the article's abstract. Does it include details of a study, observation, or analysis of a number of participants or subjects?
•    Look at the article itself. Is it more than three pages long? Most empirical articles will be fairly lengthy.
•    Look at the article itself. If it contains a subsection marked "Methodology" and another called "Results," it is probably empirical.
How can I search these articles?
There is no quick way to limit your searches only to articles that review empirical studies (or to empirical studies themselves). You will have to do keyword searches, then review article abstracts in order to determine the nature of each. To run keyword searches, use the databases listed on the "Finding Empirical Articles" tab.

International Organization Database Links