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POSC 323/420: Civic Engagement and Leadership / Penny Harvest Practicum

A guide that provides descriptive lists of resources related to conducting research for the POSC323/POSC420 courses.

Multidisciplinary and Subject-Specific Databases

Obtaining a broad overview or background information from books, government documents, and other materials can be found using the USC Libraries catalog. Use search terms such as "civic engagement," "Young volunteers in community development," "civic service, " and "Civics--Study and teaching." These same terms can be used to find multidisciplinary and subject-specific research in the databases described below.


Databases that offer comprehensive coverage of literature from scholarly and non-scholarly sources.

  • Google Scholar -- the scholarly part of the Google empire. To set up Google Scholar with access to full-text journals and databases, go here.
  • JSTOR -- a multidisciplinary archive of scholarly journal articles covering most major disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. Useful for identifying historical research on a topic.
  • ProQuest -- comprehensive, multidisciplinary database of newspaper, magazine, and scholarly journal articles updated daily. Content is more focused and manageable than Google Scholar.


Databases that offer the opportunity to understand and contemplate the implications of policy decisions through the eyes of those most impacted by those decisions and from alternative perspectives.

  • Alternative Press Index -- a bibliographic database with links to the full-text of more than 368,000 journal, newspaper, and magazine articles from over 300 international alternative, radical, and left periodicals. Provides an interdisciplinary perspective about the value and role of civic engagement in society. There is a separate Alternative Press Archive dating back to 1969.
  • Chicano Database -- biibliographic index focuses on the Mexican-American and Chicano experience, and the broader Latino experience of Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans and Central American immigrants since 1992. Covers Chicano/a art, education, folklore, health. history, labor, language and literature, music, politics, public policy, religion, sociology, and women's studies.
  • Ethnic NewsWatch -- includes current and archival coverage of newspapers, magazines and journals from ethnic and minority presses. Very important database for gaining a perspective and an understanding of civic engagement from underrepresented groups and minorities.
  • GenderWatch -- a full-text database that focus on the impact of gender across a broad spectrum of subject areas. Publications include academic and scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, regional publications, books, booklets and pamphlets, conference proceedings, and government, NGO and special reports.
  • LGBT Life -- the premier resource to the world\'s literature regarding Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Transsexual issues with coverage that includes traditional academic, lifestyle, and regional publications, as well as non-periodical content such as non-fiction books, bibliographies and dissertations.


A database for scholarly research on children.

  • Child Development and Adolescent Studies -- provides citations to current and historical social and behavioral sciences literature related to growth and development of children through the age of 21, including book reviews, abstracts from hundreds of journals, technical reports, books, book chapters, and theses and dissertations.


Primary databases for investigating how policy decisions and research problems in society are understood through mass media messaging and the use of language.

  • Communication Source -- a comprehensive source of communication-related journal articles, research reports, working papers, and books from a variety of publishers, research institutions, and information centers. Includes not only communication literature but also literature in other disciplines that is relevant to communication researchers. Search this to find studies that investigate the role mass and digital media plays in civic engagement.
  • Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts -- accesses the international literature in linguistics and all aspects of the study of language, including descriptive, historical, comparative, theoretical, and geographical linguistics. Important database to understanding the use of language in communicating policy.


These databases cover educational research broadly defined and at all levels, including issues of teaching, learning, and child educational development applied to civic engagement.

  • ERIC -- provides extensive access to educational research and information from journal articles, conferences, meetings, government documents, theses, dissertations, reports, audiovisual media, bibliographies, directories, books and monographs.
  • Educational Administration Abstracts -- includes indexing to articles in more than 100 journals related to the administration of primary, secondary and post-secondary educational facilities and programs. Subjects covered include: personnel, curriculum, school-community relations, supervision, minority group relations, and professional education. This database identifies studies focused on the administrative aspects of civic engagement programming and school-based opportunities.


Databases that access the literature of disciplines focused on the human condition in practice.

  • Family Studies Abstracts -- this database includes bibliographic records covering essential areas related to family studies, including marriage, divorce, family therapy, and other areas of key relevance to the discipline. May be useful in identifying research on the relationships between civic engagement and family dynamics.
  • Social Services Abstracts -- provides coverage of current research focused on social work, human services, and related areas, including social welfare, social policy, and community development, evaluation research, policy planning and forecasting, support groups/networks, and welfare services. Useful for identifying programs that support civic engagement among youth.
  • Social Work Abstracts -- summarizes articles in more than 450 English language journals in all areas of social work, including theory and practice, areas of service, social issues, social problems, child and family welfare, legislation, and community organization. Coverage is from 1966 to the present. Facilitates access to research that investigates the relationships between civic engagement and issues of child welfare and community development.
  • Violence and Abuse Abstracts -- provides access to articles related to violence and abuse, including family violence, sexual assault, emotional abuse, and other areas of key relevance to the discipline.


Key databases in the field of political science and related disciplines such as public policy and governmental affairs.

  • PolicyFile -- provides full-text access to U.S. foreign and domestic policy papers and gray literature published by a wide variety of think tanks, research institutes, and agencies. PolicyFile is updated weekly with abstracts and links to the latest reports, papers, and documents.
  • Public Affairs Information Services [PAIS] -- indexes selective subjects and bibliographic access to periodicals, books, hearings, reports, gray literature, government publications, Internet resources, and other publications from 120 countries. Includes historical coverage from 1915 to the present.
  • Public Administration Abstracts -- provides information on public administration-related publications worldwide covering such areas as administration and economy, administration and politics, administration and society, administrative structures and organization, public and social services, public service personnel, and theory and method.
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts -- provides indexing of the international journal literature in political science and its complementary fields, including international relations, law, and public administration and policy. Over 1,700 titles are monitored for coverage and, of these, 67% are published outside of the United States. Essential for obtaining studies about the political aspects of civic engagement.


Databases that cover specific social science disciplines that may help locate additional scholarship about the topic your group in investigating.

  • PsycInfo -- abstracting and indexing database with more than three million records devoted to peer-reviewed literature of journal articles, chapters, books, dissertations, and research reports in psychology and the behavioral sciences. Useful for finding research that looks at the affective and personal aspects of being involved in the political process.
  • Sociological Abstracts -- a resource for accessing research in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. The database draws information from an international selection of over 2,600 journals and other serials publications, plus conference papers, books, and dissertations. Useful for finding research that looks at the group or community aspects of being involved in the political process.
  • Urban Studies Abstracts -- database contains records gathered from legislative groups, research institutions, public research agencies, universities, and scholars from around the world covering essential areas related to urban studies, including urban affairs, community development, urban history, and other areas of key relevance to the discipline. Coverage is from 1973 to the present.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.