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IR 325: North-South Relations in the Global Economy: Researching a Debate Topic

Quick Guide to Finding Data for the IR 325 Debate Project for Dr. Iva Bozovic, Fall 2021

Background Information and Identifying an Issue

Initial use of databases [i.e., scholarly search engines] designed to access a large volume of materials can be helpful in scanning the literature on a particular topic of debate and obtaining an initial understanding of how scholars, journalists, and others have studied it. Below are sources that facilitate this approach to understanding the literature on a topic.

USC Libraries Library Catalog

A segment of the Libraries' general search engine that allows you to search for books, government documents, and other print and online materials. It does not include articles from newspapers, magazines, and journals. Those can be accessed using the databases listed below.

Key Databases in IR

Below are links to the most important databases that support the study of international relations and development.

Specialized Databases

Topics related to international development are not only studied by scholars in international relations but can be examined in related areas of study. For example, the impact of development on the environment can be studied by scholars in ecology and environmental studies. The role of private companies in promoting development can be studied by researchers in business and law. Below are additional databases you should consider searching if your topic is likely to intersect disciplines outside of international relations.

Business and Economics


Environment Policy


Society and Social Issues

Research Tips

Research Tip 1: Search Terms

A common challenge to finding relevant articles that support your analysis of a debate topic is identifying relevant search terms. Try using keywords instead of phrases when searching databases. So, instead of searching for What are the barriers to accessing healthcare in developing countries, use the advanced search option in the database and enter the term "access" in the first search box, "healthcare" in the second search box, and "developing countries" in the third search box. Note that most databases allow you to add additional search boxes.

Also be sure to try different searches using a variety of terms and synonyms for your keywords. For example, if you include the phrase developing countries in your search terms, you could miss out on articles that use term developing nations, use the less-common third world, or only address barriers to healthcare in a specific country, such as India, without using the term developing anywhere in the article.

Research Tip 2: Citation Tracking

A useful strategy to expand the scope of articles you find is to paste the title of the article from a database, such as, JSTOR or ProQuest Multiple into Google Scholar [link to Google Scholar from the USC Libraries’ main web page by scrolling down under Database Quick Links]. This allows you to see if anyone else has subsequently cited that article in their research by clicking on the “Cited by” link [e.g., Cited by 45--meaning the article you found has been cited in 45 other works since it was first published]. This is an excellent way to find related and identify more recent studies on your topic. Also, be sure to scan the list of sources the author used [footnotes or endnotes] within an article to identify additional relevant sources.