Poli100q guide
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Library instruction for Political Science 100Q: Racial Politics

Library instruction for Political Science 100Q: Racial Politics

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  • 1. Library Research Step by Step For Political Science 100Q
  • 2. Before you start searching • The licenses for most of our research tools require that users are on UCSD IP addresses – Are you on the wireless network at UCSD? • Make sure you’re using the UCSD-PROTECTED network. – Are you off-campus? • Make sure you’re using the VPN or Proxy
  • 3. Choose your topic and keywords. • Develop your research question, hypothesis, or thesis statement – Escondido is switching from an at-large system for electing city council members to council districts. How is this likely to change the demographics of elected officials? Or, more broadly, how do the results of at-large systems compare with district systems in local elections? • Break that statement into key concepts, – Escondido, local elections, at-large elections, district elections, demographics • Think of other ways to phrase those concepts. Use synonyms. Consider more specific words (to narrow your focus) or more general terms (to expand your search), e.g. – Escondido, San Diego County, North County, local, city, county, municipal… – Demographics, race, ethnicity, gender, diversity, representation, Latinos, Hispanics… – Vot*, elect*, political behavior, political attitudes... – At-large, district
  • 4. Construct a basic search strategy. • In most databases, you can combine terms with and (both terms must appear in the hit)and or (one term must appear in the hit— for synonyms or evenly weighted terms) – Latinos and elections; elections or voting • In many databases, you can use a symbol such as * or ! to take the place of letters to get hits with multiple endings of a word – elect* • Example search: (Race or ethnic*) and elect* and (local or city or county or municipal)
  • 5. Choose the kinds of resources you want to find and the best tools to find them. • Each tool helps you find a specific, limited kind and amount of information. • Knowing which tools might help you find what you're looking for will save you a lot of time.
  • 6. Books Books typically cover a single topic in depth. Look in an online library catalog like (UC San Diego’s library catalog) • Tip: Many of the Library’s books are now ebooks. Use to find the link. • Tip: Not enough at UC San Diego, or the book you want checked out? – Try to request books from other San Diego libraries – Try to request books from other University of California libraries
  • 7. Scholarly Articles Scholarly articles cover more narrow topics than books. Because they are shorter, they are often published more quickly, too, making them more current. The Library has literally hundreds of databases for finding articles. Look in a discipline specific databases such as Worldwide Political Science Abstracts to find the core publications in your field. Or look in multidisciplinary databases for a little bit of everything.
  • 8. Primary Sources Primary sources are materials that document the event when it happened—or as close to when it happened as possible. Items in the Library are cataloged in and other resources are available in specialized databases. Examples include: • News: traditional and social media • Government publications and official documents • First person accounts: diaries, letters, oral histories, blogs…
  • 9. Statistics & Datasets Generally available in specialized databases or directly from the researchers as • Aggregate/statistics (numbers already analyzed) • Microdata (lowest level of collection)
  • 10. Run searches using the tools you choose. Experiment with keywords and combinations of keywords, e.g. I might try • At-large elections • (elect* or vot*) and (Latino* or Hispanic*) • (Race or ethnic*) and elect* and (local or city or county or municipal) • (local or city or county or municipal) and elect* and (district or at-large)
  • 11. Try different tools. • Check the help screens or guides to each database for specifics on combining your terms and whether your results are ranked by date or relevance. • When you find good hits, look at the subject headings/descriptors. Try running new searches using those terms.
  • 12. Get the citation information. You need this for your bibliography. You list the works you cite so that readers interested in your research can find and read the resources you used to draw your conclusions. • Email records to yourself as a backup. • Some databases can export the citation in a specific format (e.g. APA, Chicago, MLA) • Use RefWorks (free to UCSD students) to manage, store, and format your citations.
  • 13. Get the actual item. • If the full text isn’t available in your search results. Look for the button. • Link to full text if available. • No full text? – Try for the print • No UCSD access at all? – You can usually request the item from another library using the link. – For books, try or
  • 14. Evaluate the source • Does it answer the question? • What are the author’s credentials? – And what sources do they cite? • Is the source current enough for the kind of research you're doing?