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International Relations *

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

How to Use This Guide


The purpose of this guide is to help you locate reliable, credible online and print resources that support researching problems in international relations [IR] and related areas of study.

The following content elements exist:

  • Databases – highly organized scholarly search engines available from the USC Libraries or that are freely available [i.e., open access]. They offer access to magazines, newspapers, and/or journal articles. Some also provide access to books, research reports, doctoral dissertations, videos, statistics, and/or audio files.
  • Historical Resources – online sources that are of historical value in understanding issues, events, or concepts in IR or are digital archives of primary sources that contain important historical information relevant to IR.
  • Organizational Resources – links to information produced and/or made available by government agencies, non-governmental organizations, non-profit groups, or think tanks and research centers.
  • Statistical Sources – sources that provide access to numerical data created by an organization or gathered from sources outside of an organization and made available to researchers.
  • Theories -- alphabetical summaries of theories used in IR. The descriptions have been modified from a list originally created by Mark Beavis of the University of Southern Queensland, Australia.
  • Web Sites – links to organizational, governmental, or company web pages that have been vetted by the librarian to ensure that they are reliable, trustworthy, and generally unbiased sources of information.

How is this guide organized?
Use the tabs on the left to navigate to specific content. The tabs are divided into sections relating to types of sources or specific subject areas. Within each tab, there are text boxes containing links and descriptions of particular resources. Text boxes on each page go from general or comprehensive sources to more specialized sources. Lists of resources within each text box are arranged in alphabetical order. The first tab [Home] has my contact information. The last tab contains links to additional library guides.

Where do I start?
This guide encompasses a significant amount of resources. If you are unsure where to begin, click on the “Background Information” tab and use these strategies:

  1. Review the handbooks in the first text box to obtain background information. These handbooks compile the latest research in IR and are a good place to explore contemporary concepts, theories, or topics, or,
  2. Go to the “Comprehensive Searching” text box and search the library catalog for books, research reports, or international documents that can help you understand the topic in greater depth or,
  3. Search the ProQuest database for your topic. Choose the advanced search option and enter terms [i.e., keywords] that represent your topic. When results appear, choose scholarly journals from the source type in the left-hand column. Review the articles to get a sense of how the topic is being studied, or,
  4. Contact me. If you are unsure how to begin approaching how to research a topic, email me at and I can guide you through the process of initial discovery.

Where do I go to find scholarly journal articles?
Click on the “Finding Articles in Databases” tab. A good place to begin is to choose the ProQuest Multiple database in the first text box because its contents are updated daily and includes access to core scholarly journals in most areas of study, including IR. Additionally, the text boxes within the “Finding Articles in Databases” tab contain links to Key Databases in IR and Comparative Politics, Important Databases Related to IR, databases covering research about particular regions of the world, and comprehensive databases in other social and behavioral science disciplines. Most of these databases can be used to find scholarly journal articles. Collectively, they support a multidisciplinary approach to examining a topic.

I need to understand what scholars are saying about a topic in IR and argue a particular position.
Click on the “Handbooks” tab under the relevant subject area tab [e.g., International Crime and Corruption]. Handbooks synthesize how scholars have investigated and debated specific research problems in IR. If there isn’t a handbook related to your topic or you need additional sources of information, go to the “Finding Articles in Databases” tab, and search the ProQuest Multiple database or contact me [].

I need to study a particular aspect of international relations.
Review the tabs of the guide that relate to an area of study in IR [e,g., International Environmental Affairs; International Law] and click on the link. The page will include general and specialized databases, statistical sources, web sites, and other resources that support researching specific areas of study in IR.

I need information about a country.
Click on the "Country Information" tab. A good place to obtain thorough and current information about a country is to use the Europa World database described in the first text box. Additional information can be found by reviewing other sources listed on the page as well as the regional handbooks listed below the main "Country Information" tab.

What if I click on a link and it doesn't work?
Email me at and let me know where the broken link is located. I will fix it as soon as possible [or let you know the source is no longer accessible online].