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PS 390 – American Foreign Policy

Guide to Library Resources

PS390 – American Foreign Policy

More than any other subject area, 
political science literature comes in many forms.  Popular literature, government documents, non-governmental organization publications, and scholarly literature are all part of the body of knowledge in this area.  For this class it is very important to use scholarly materials. To help you make good choices, there are a several options.  First of all, you can contact Lynne Rudasill at rudasill@illinois.edu and set up a time to talk about your research and go over the materials you have chosen.  She also has office hours from 9:00-11:00 on Mondays and 2:00-4:00 on Fridays.  Or just give her a call at 217-265-6879.  There is a Guide to Critical Thinking that can help you with your decision on what is useful for you.  The form for this class can be found at http://tinyurl.com/PS390Form2016.

Books ———-  Peer-Reviewed Articles ———- Primary Resources ———- Other Resources ———- Test Yourself

Finding Books

So you need to find books published by a university press.  Why?  What is so special about these publications?

Think of it this way – you are going on break with your friends and you are in charge of finding a place to stay at the beach.  You want something right on the sand that is pretty nice.  You search on the Web for “hotels and beach” but that will give you thousands of listings.  You could go to a general travel search site and still have no idea of what the view is like. Or you could go to a site that provides you with reviews and pictures to find exactly what you want.  The University Library is your review site for finding exactly what you want for this class.

University Press Books

Why are these books so special?  University presses carefully review and edit the works that they publish.  Generally, they are written by scholars in the field.  They undergo especially close scrutiny before they are made available.  There are only about 80 university press publishers in the U.S. so the field is limited.  Two very large publishers in Great Britain are Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press, both of whom work in the same way.

What is the best way to search for these items?  Go to the advanced search in the Library Catalog. We just entered the term “american foreign policy” here for a “Keyword” search.  We also entered “university press” as a “Keyword” search to target just those publishers.

Advanced Search Screen

You can get much more specific by adding other keywords or subjects.

Your results will look like this:

Advanced Search Result Screen

The first record tells you it is available, and if you click the record, you can see that it is located in the Undergrad Library.  The second item is available in the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library, but if you do not want to go there, you can request that it be delivered to a library circulation desk such as Main Stacks, Undergraduate Library, or Social Science, Health and Education Library (SSHEL) if you wish to pick it up elsewhere.  This usually takes a day or two and you will receive an email when it is available for you to check out. Some items in the catalog are electronic books, and you can click the link directly from the catalog to view the book.

You might also want to use the choices on the right hand of the page to narrow down the possibilities.


Finding Peer-Reviewed Articles

What is a peer-reviewed article?  The easiest answer is that it is an article written by a scholar that has been read and confirmed as being accurate, using the correct methodology, and articulating an appropriate conclusion, usually by a panel of three reviewers who have expertise in the field.  Blind peer review means that the panel of experts does not know who the author of the article is, and the author of the article does not know who has reviewed it. Scholarly journals originated in the 17th Century as a way of sharing new ideas with other scholars in a regular way.  Prior to that time, individuals communicated new ideas primarily through letters and meetings.

How do you find peer-reviewed articles?  The University Library provides access to thousands of scholarly journals in print and online.  We also subscribe to hundreds of databases that index peer-reviewed journals.  You can explore these at the Online Journals and Databases site.  The easiest way for you to find these materials in this class is to go to any of the following databases:

  • JSTOR – Includes the full-text of over 100 journals in the areas of African American studies, anthropology, Asian studies, ecology, economics, education, finance, history, literature, mathematics, philosophy, political science, population studies, sociology, and statistics. Most include full texts of complete journals from their inception up to a “moving wall.” The moving wall is a fixed period of time ranging, in most cases, from 2 to 5 years, that defines the gap between the most recently published issue and the date of the most recent issues available in JSTOR.
  • PAIS International (Public Affairs Information Service) – This is a bibliographic index with abstracts covering the full range of political, social, and public policy issues. Topics covered include economic, political, and social issues, business, finance, law, international trade and relations, public administration, government, political science, and any topics that are or might become the subject of legislation. The database covers selected journal articles, books, statistics, yearbooks, directories, conference proceedings, pamphlets, reports, government documents, and microfiche. More than 1,600 journals and over 8,000 monographs are indexed each year. Coverage includes documents published worldwide in any of six languages: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. The subject headings and abstracts are in English. Covers 1915-present.
  • Project Muse – Picks up where JSTOR leaves off, providing the full text of publications on the “other side of the moving wall” and some unique titles as well. Subjects include psychology, mathematics, history, American studies, history and literature of medicine, black studies, literature, performing arts, human rights, religion, children’s literature, philosophy, politics, and others.
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts – This database is built upon the merged backfiles of Political Science Abstracts, published by IFI / Plenum, 1975-2000, and ABC POL SCI, published by ABC-CLIO, 1984-2000. The database provides citations, abstracts, and indexing of the international serials literature in political science and its complementary fields, including international relations, law, and public administration / policy.
  • America: History & Life –  The database provides an index of literature covering the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present.
  • Digital National Security Archives – The Digital National Security Archive contains a comprehensive set of declassified government documents. The database includes 44 collections consisting of over 104,000 meticulously indexed documents, with more than 733,000 total pages.

Most of these databases will indicate in some way if the article you have found is from a scholarly journal.  There are several ways to verify this.  You can go to the homepage of the journal to see if it mentions peer-review or you can go to a database called Ulrich’s Web which list most of the journals published with an indication of whether they are peer-reviewed or not.  It never hurts to double check.

You can also use the Easy Search on the Library Gateway to search for articles.  The two best places to find scholarly article here are under Scopus and the Web of Science.  Although they do not index journals in the social sciences as much as in the sciences, they are the ultimate in scholarly publishing and provide what is referred to as citation indexing.  Citation indexing not only tells you about the article you are interested in, it will also tell you who has cited the article after publication.

Easy Search Screen

The results look like this:

Easy Search Result Screen

Other routes you can take if you know what you are looking for is to go to the Online Journals and Databases link and look up the title of a specific journal, or if you have the full citation of an article, say something that you found in a bibliography or list of cited references is the Journal and Article Locator.  And, do not forget the Library Catalog – not everything is available electronically.


Primary Resources

Sometimes what you really need are primary resources. Many of these materials exist as government documents that are directly related to American Foreign Policy.  Check out a few of these great links.

CQ Researcher

Digital National Security Archive

Federal Document System (FDSYS)

Foreign Relations of the United States

Council on Foreign Relations

CQ Press Public Affairs Collection (This database contains links to primary documents as well as analysis.)


Other Possibilities

A really neat place to look for publications by think tanks, especially if you do not know which one might be useful is the CIAO (Columbia International Affairs Online) database.  Here you will find policy briefs, working papers, journals and books published by a huge number of these associations, all available in full-text.

More resources that might be of interest include:


Guide to Resources on Terrorism

Alternative Press Index

New York Times (Historical)

Center for Global Studies Videos – Includes video recordings of various lectures on area studies topics.

Also take a look at the Quick Links on the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library for more news reports.


Summing Up – Test Yourself

Test yourself with this brief online tutorial that covers both issues of plagiarism and determining authority and bias in publications.

We also have a page of information on the process of doing a literature review that you might want to check out.

There are hundreds of useful tools for your research in the University Library.  Dive in and look around – Uncover and Discover your world.  It is challenging, but you can always find help by emailing me at rudasill@illinois.edu.