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International Relations *

A guide to databases and scholarly online sources that support conducting research in international relations and comparative politics.

Comprehensive Searching


Described below are search engines and databases that access a large volume of materials at once and, therefore, can be helpful in scanning the literature about a particular research problem and obtaining an initial understanding of how scholars, journalists, and others have studied your topic of interest.

USC Libraries Search Option

The search option on the USC Libraries main web page provides a single search box with comprehensive access to print and online books, selected digital resources, and full-text journal, magazine, and newspaper articles owned by the USC Libraries or accessible online through subscriptions. Information about using the Libraries' search engine can be found here.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar provides access to mostly scholarly [i.e., peer-reviewed, academic] sources, including scholarly titles from Google Book Search. The search engine has a "Cited by" feature that allows you to track where a particular source has been subsequently cited after publication. Link to Google Scholar from USC Libraries' main web page by scrolling down under list of database "Quick Links." Information about linking into USC Libraries subscription database content so you can search for and access content in Google Scholar without having to go directly to the libraries' website can be found here.


An archive of core, full-text journals in the  social sciences, humanities, and sciences. All journals are covered from the first issue to within approximately fours years before the present. Good source to search for locating research studies published in the past about a topic.


A comprehensive database that simultaneously searches hundreds of subject areas, indexes thousands of scholarly journal articles, as well as the content of major newspapers and news magazines. Contents are updated daily. This is a good starting point for any topic.

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses

Provides access to doctoral dissertations and Master's theses from more than 3,100 contributing institutions of higher education. The database contains full text PDF copies of over 2.5 million of titles with 200,000 works added annually. Contents are updated weekly.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.

General Research Handbooks


Handbooks contain original research studies written by leading scholars and, therefore, are particularly useful for obtaining background information about contemporary theories, concepts, issues, events, or topics in international relations. Below is a list of handbooks listed alphabetically by editor/author available either electronically and/or located on the book shelves in the Medicine Crow Center Library for International and Public Affairs.

Bèorzel, Tanja A., Tanja A. Börzel, and Thomas Risse-Kappen. The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Regionalism. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2016.   [Medicine Crow Center Library bookstacks JZ 5330 .O84 2016]
Twenty-seven chapters review the theoretical and empirical scholarship with regard to the emergence of regionalism, the institutional design of regional organizations and issue-specific governance, as well as the effects of regionalism and its relationship with processes of regionalization. The authors explore theories of cooperation, integration, and diffusion explaining the rise and the different forms of regionalism. The Handbook also discusses the state of the art on the world regions: North America, Latin America, Europe, Eurasia, Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa. Various chapters survey the literature on regional governance in major issue areas such as security and peace, trade and finance, environment, migration, social and gender policies, as well as democracy and human rights. Finally, the Handbook engages in cross-regional comparisons with regard to institutional design, dispute settlement, identities and communities, legitimacy and democracy, as well as inter- and transregionalism.

Biermann, Rafael and Joachim A. Koops. Palgrave Handbook of Inter-Organizational Relations in World Politics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.
This handbook synthesizes and assesses key perspectives on cooperation and rivalry between regional and global organizations in world politics. A variety of inter-disciplinary theoretical and conceptual perspectives are combined in order to assess the nature, processes and outcomes of inter-organizational partnerships and rivalries across major policy areas, such as, peace and security, human rights, democratization, finance, sustainable development, and climate change.

Boucher, Stephen, Carina Antonia Hallin, Lex Paulson, editors. Routledge Handbook of Collective Intelligence for Democracy and Governance. New York: Routledge, 2023.
Contributors explore the concepts, methodologies, and implications of collective intelligence for democratic governance. The handbook serves as a primer on the science of collective intelligence applied to public policy challenges and in policymaking and administration for the purpose of fostering policy innovations and reinventing democracy. Collectively, the essays aim to show that the intellectual history of crowd wisdom offers vital arguments for why a society of empowered citizens may not only be better for solving problems, but collective participation and deliberation is better for society as a whole.

Bukovansky, Mlada, editor. The Oxford Handbook of History and International Relations. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2023.
This work examines the past and present of the intersection between history and IR, and looks to the future by laying out new questions and directions for research and is organized into four parts: state-of-the-art analysis of numerous aspects of the disciplinary encounter between historians and IR theorists and sections on 'Practices', 'Locales', and 'Moments' offer a wide variety of perspectives, from the longue durée to the ephemeral individual moment, and challenge many conventional ways of defining the contexts of historical inquiry about international relations.

Carlsnaes, Walter, Thomas Risse-Kappen, and Beth A. Simmons. Handbook of International Relations. 2nd edition. London: SAGE Publications, 2013. [Medicine Crow Center Library bookstacks JZ 1242 .H36 2013]
The draws together a team of the world’s leading scholars of international relations to provide a comprehensive review and guide to the field. The handbook reviews the many historical, philosophical, analytical and normative roots to the discipline and the key contemporary topics of research and debate and, therefore, is an essential benchmark publication for understanding key issues and concepts in international relations.

Chandler, David. Routledge Handbook of International Statebuilding. New York: Routledge, 2013. [Medicine Crow Library Bookstacks JZ6300 .R68 2013]
This work offers a combination of theoretical, thematic and empirical analyses of the statebuilding regime. Divided into three parts, concepts and approaches, security, development, and democracy, and policy implementation, the volume is designed to guide the reader through the background and development of international statebuilding as a policy area, as well as exploring in depth significant issues such as security, development, democracy and human rights.

Cogan, Jacob Katz, Ian Hurd, and Ian Johnstone. The Oxford Handbook of International Organizations. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2016. [Medicine Crow Center Library bookstacks KZ 4850 .O94 2016]
This book gives a comprehensive overview of the world of international organizations, emphasizing both the practical aspects of their organization and operation, and the conceptual issues that arise at the junctures between nation-states and international authority, and between law and politics. The focus is on inter-governmental organizations and select non-governmental organizations and public policy networks that relate to trade, humanitarian aid, peace operations, and more, as well as chapters on the history of international organizations.

Davies, Thomas Richard, editor. Routledge Handbook of NGOs and International Relations. London: Taylor and Francis Group, 2019.
This work considers the activities not only of advocacy groups in the environmental, feminist, human rights, humanitarian, and peace sectors, but also the array of religious, professional, and business associations that make up the wider Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) community. Including perspectives from multiple world regions the book provides a comprehensive overview of the historical evolution of NGOs, the range of structural forms and international networks, and major theoretical perspectives. Each chapter incorporates discussions of the categories of NGOs in the respective issue areas, the range of approaches to the issues, the strategies used, and their influence and explains the significant regional variations among NGOs including the variety of NGOs present, the nature of their activities and the ways NGOs address authoritarianism, terrorism, and challenges to democracy, terrorism, austerity, and how they NGOs handle concerns surrounding their own legitimacy and accountability.

Fahey, Elaine, editor. The Routledge Handbook of Transatlantic Relations. Abingdon, Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2023.
This book examines the regulation of transatlantic relations across a broad range of subjects associated with the key technical, procedural, and policy issues for the U.S. of dealing with, negotiating, engaging and law-making with the EU, taking a broad interdisciplinary perspective including international relations, politics, political economic and law, EU external relations law and international law and assesses the external consequences of transatlantic relations in a systematic and comprehensive fashion. Diverse areas from human rights, to trade, and security, and the capacity of the transatlantic relationship to set new international agendas, standards and rules are discussed.

Hansen, Stig Jarle, and Stian Lid, editors. Routledge Handbook of Deradicalisation and Disengagement. Abingdon, Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2020.
This book offers an overview of the historical settings, theoretical debates, national approaches, and practical strategies to deradicalisation and disengagement. Historically, much of the focus on these topics has been highly securitized and militarized; by contrast, this volume explores the need for more community-based and 'soft' approaches. The handbook includes discussions from both right-wing/left-wing political and religiously inspired deradicalization processes. The handbook is organised into three parts: Definitions, backgrounds and theories; actors and regional case studies.

Hansen-Magnusson, Hannes and Antje Vetterlein, editors. The Routledge Handbook on Responsibility in International Relations. Abingdon, Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2021.
This handbook brings together research on the critical debates about responsibility that are currently being undertaken in IR theory. Contents both reflects upon an emerging field based on an engagement in the most crucial theoretical debates and serves as a foundational text on the way in which responsibility is theorized across different approaches in IR and relevant neighboring disciplines and demonstrate how responsibility matters in different policy fields of global governance.

Hosseini, S. A. Hamed et al, editors. The Routledge Handbook of Transformative Global Studies. Abingdon, Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2021.

This handbook explores multiple and sometimes contradictory forms of popular resistance and politics by developing fresh perspectives on globalization, development, neoliberalism, capitalism, and their progressive alternatives, addressing issues of democracy, power, inequality, insecurity, precarity, well-being, education, displacement, social movements, violence and war, and climate change. Throughout, it emphasizes the dynamics for system change, including bringing post-capitalist, feminist, (de)colonial and other critical perspectives to support transformative global praxis.

Huddleston, R. Joseph, Thomas Jamieson, and Patrick James, editors. Handbook of Research Methods in International Relations. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2022.
This work considers the art of IR research as well as the science, offering diverse perspectives on current research methods and emerging developments in the field. Empirical chapters are split into five distinct parts guiding the reader through the research process, covering the key topics including scope and methods, concepts, data and techniques and tools and applications. Highlighting the wide-ranging differences in the topic, the illustrative case studies and research models also provide guidance on how and when to use these tools, including how to evaluate research at the start and end of projects.

Juergensmeyer, Mark et al, editors. The Oxford Handbook of Global Studies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.
This handbook focuses on global studies more than on the phenomenon of globalization itself, although the various aspects of globalization are central to understanding how the field is currently being shaped. Several chapters focus on the emergence of the field and its historical antecedents. Other chapters explore analytic and conceptual approaches to teaching and research in global studies. The largest section deals with the subject matter of global studies—challenges from diasporas and pandemics to the global city and the emergence of a transnational capitalist class. The final two sections feature chapters that take a critical view of globalization from diverse perspectives and essays on the ideas and institutions that guide an emerging global civil society.

Leader Maynard, Jonathan and Mark L. Haas, editors. The Routledge Handbook of Ideology and International Relations. New York: Routledge, 2023.
The volume unifies fragmented scholarship on ideology's impact on international relations by presenting ideology as a way of explaining these major developments of world politics, rejecting the simplistic association of ideology with passionate convictions in favor of more complex theories of ideology's influence. The chapters summarize new research on major topics, suggest key implications for broader theoretical debates and frameworks, and point the way forwards to future avenues of inquiry. Contributors adopt puzzle-orientated causal, constitutive, and/or critical approaches with a central focus on the determinants and effects of ideological phenomena and their interaction with other aspects of politics.

Light, Margot and A. J. R. Groom. International Relations: A Handbook of Current Theory. London: Bloomsbury, 2016. [Medicine Crow Center Library bookstacks JX 1291 .I56 2016]
This handbook offers a guide to the state of international relations theory during the Cold War. It provides a critical commentary on the literature of the time and covers all aspects of this discipline in detail. Each chapter covers a specific theory or concept or places international relations theory within a particular context.

Mello, Patrick A. and Falk Ostermann, editors. Routledge Handbook of Foreign Policy Analysis Methods. New York: Routledge, 2023.
This handbook offers concise chapters from expert international contributors covering a diverse range of new and established foreign policy analysis methods related to disintegration and questioning of global governance structures and a re-orientation towards national politics combined with the spread of technological innovations such as big data, social media, and phenomena like fake news, populism, or questions of global health policies. Each chapter follows the same approach, introducing the method and its development, discussing strengths, requirements, limitations, and potential pitfalls while illustrating the method's application using examples from empirical research and framed in quantitative and qualitative traditions, rationalist and interpretivist perspectives, and different substantive backgrounds.

Moisio, Sami, et al, editors. Handbook on the Changing Geographies of the State: New Spaces of Geopolitics. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2020.
This work presents a comprehensive analysis of the spatial transformation of the state. It explores new spaces of geopolitics that arise from these political, social, cultural, and environmental negotiations. Chapters examine the state from a range of theoretical angles and analyze a variety of relevant themes, including feminist geographies, the relationship between state and environment, urbanization, security geographies, nation-building, and geographical political economies. The book considers the state as spatial in both form and outlook, illustrating how it occupies existing and constantly changing political geographic conditions, and how it is maintained by the practices of categorizing and managing territory.

Schippers, Birgit, editor. The Routledge Handbook to Rethinking Ethics in International Relations. Abingdon, Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2020.
This volume builds on existing work in the normative study of international relations, discussing key debates in the field of international ethics and the ethical implications of problems occupying students and scholars of international relations in the twenty-first century. The contributions provide surveys and interventions into the field of international ethics, focusing on new and emerging ethical challenges to international relations, and approaching existing challenges through the lens of new theoretical and methodological frameworks. The book is structured around five themes: New directions in international ethics, ethical actors and practices in international relations, the ethics of climate change, globalization, and health, technology and ethics in international relations, and the ethics of global security.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.

Databases for Basic Background Information


The databases listed below enable you to search the contents of dictionaries, handbooks, encyclopedias, and other reference books in a variety of subject areas or to find scholarly summaries of topics. These databases can be a good place to locate definitive, unbiased explanations of key concepts, theories, and topics as well as biographic profiles and detailed descriptions of historic events. Most of these databases are multidisciplinary and some of their content overlaps, but search more than one database as needed to gain a thorough description of your topic.

  • Biography Index Past and Present -- combining retrospective coverage with current indexing, this database covers people from across all disciplines and areas of endeavor. Information on writers, artists, statesmen, sports figures, politicians, religious leaders, actors, business people, and many other backgrounds is reflected in citations from thousands of periodicals internationally, plus notable books indexed back to 1946. Approximately 22,000 new citations are added each year.
  • Blackwell Online Reference -- brings together online research materials in the social sciences and humanities, with a particular strength in providing access to several hundred handbooks [a concise reference book that covers a specific subject area].
  • CQ Researcher -- provides access to original, comprehensive, single-themed analytical reports on topics in the news. The reports offer unbiased coverage of health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, the economy, and many other subject areas.
  • Credo Reference -- comprehensive collection of highly-specialized reference works, primarily dictionaries and encyclopedias, across all subject areas. Good place to go for succinct definitions of concepts, theories, or topics. Very good place to begin your search for background information.
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library -- includes several hundred subject encyclopedias and other specialized reference works across all subject areas, but with particular strengths in the social and behavioral sciences and the humanities. A good source for authoritative background information.
  • Global Issues In Context -- offers international viewpoints on a broad spectrum of global issues, topics, and current events. Featured are hundreds of continuously updated issue and country portals that bring together a variety of specially selected, relevant sources for analysis of these issues.
  • Oxford Handbooks Online -- contains in-depth, high-level articles covering a variety of disciplines. Entries offer a thorough introduction to topics and a critical survey of the current state of scholarship, creating an original conception of the field and setting the agenda for new research. Handbook articles review the key issues and cutting-edge debates, as well as providing arguments for how those debates might evolve.
  • Oxford Reference Online -- provides access to the content of approximately 100 language and subject dictionaries and reference works published by the Oxford University Press in a single cross-searchable resource.
  • OxResearch Database -- provides succinct analytical articles covering world and regional economic and political developments of major significance. It evaluates issues and events within a coherent political, social and economic framework. Additionally, it contains objective, multi-disciplinary articles compiled by an extensive international network of over scholars from leading universities around the world, as well as think-tanks and institutes of international standing.
  • Reference Universe -- database that facilitates searching the tables-of-contents and indexes in several thousand reference works and subject encyclopedias. The database can help locate specialized sources that will provide background information on a specific topic.
  • SAGE eReference -- a full-text collection of over eighty online specialized encyclopedias from SAGE Publishers in the social and behavioral sciences, including communications, public policy, gender studies, social work, history, psychology, and political science.
  • SAGE Knowledge Videos – scroll down to the political science and international relations collection that includes 132 hours and 314 videos that reinforce fundamentals in the study of political and international affairs, introduce new perspectives and key concepts, and provide analysis of topical issues and problems that help link theoretical concepts to in-practice, real world examples. Case videos are approximately fifteen minute in-depth discussions on a particular topic. Documentary videos are generally one hour videos that explore an issue in depth.
  • SAGE Research Methods Online and Cases -- the database contains links to more than 175,000 pages of SAGE Publisher's book, journal, and reference content on applying quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methodologies. Also included is a collection of case studies of social research projects that can be used to help you better understand abstract or complex methodological concepts.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.