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POLI 002: Introduction to Comparative Politics (Faulve-Montojo): Search Strategies

Search Strategies

Searching databases for journal articles is a bit more challenging than using tools such as Google. The good news is that you have a lot more control over how you design the search. This also means you should get better, more targeted results.

  • Before you start searching, try focusing your topic by writing a one sentence research question.
    For example: How does Parliament influence the British governmental system?
  • Identify the main ideas in your research question.
    • great britain
    • form of government
    • parliament
  • Boil the statement down to keywords, or the most important elements of your issue.
    united kingdom, great britain, british, northern ireland
    monarchy, representative, democracy, oligarchy, authoritarian, dictatorship, totalitarian
    parliament, legislature
  • Use an asterisk to find variations of a word.
    EX: democra* will find democracy and democratic
  • Then, separate the keywords with the "and" and "or" connectors
    "united kingdom" or "great britain" or british or "northern ireland"
    democra* or monarch* or representative or oligarch* or authoritarian* or dictator* or totalitarian*
    parliament* or legislature

The above search strategy in the Political Science Complete database will look like this. Note that I changed "Select a Field" to "SU Subjects" for each line so the database will only look for terms in the subject terms (index) or keywords sections of the citation. This helps to retrieve articles that are more on-target. 

You can also limit your search to "peer reviewed" publications so you search only the academic literature.

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This search retrieved 167 peer-reviewed citations. 

Last Revised on June 22, 2020

Social Sciences and Government Information Librarian