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Political Science *

Below are links to databases and scholarly web sites that support the study of political science and its related sub-disciplines.

Comprehensive Searching

Initial use of search engines designed to access a large volume of materials can be helpful in scanning the literature on a particular topic 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. Help with 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. 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.

Reference Resources for Basic Background Information

Specialized Databases

The full-text and keyword searchable 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Opposing Viewpoints In Context -- an online resource covering a wide range of social issues from many differing perspectives. The database contains a media-rich collection of materials, including pro/con viewpoint essays, topic overviews, primary source materials, biographies of social activists and reformers, journal articles, statistical tables, charts and graphs, images, videos, and podcasts.
  • 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.
  • -- an open access nonpartisan organization that uses researchers and rigorous editorial standards to present differing viewpoints about controversial issues. The name and title and education along with the title of the article, and name and date of publication where that source's quotation appeared are included with each entry. A good place to understand the basic arguments for or against implementing a particular policy.
  • 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 Video: Politics and International Relations – this collection includes 132 hours and 314 videos that reinforce fundamentals in the study of political sciences and international relations, introduce new perspectives and key concepts, and provide analysis of topical issues and problems that help link theory to in-practice, real world examples. Case videos are approximately fifteen minute in-depth discussions on a particular topic. Documentary videos generally last for approximately one hour and explore in depth a thematic issue.
  • 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.