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POL 300: Introduction to Political Analysis

This guide includes resources and information useful for those taking POL 300: Introduction to Political Analysis


Preparing a Political Science Research Review

Avoid uncritical use of Internet resources. Anybody can and will post something on the Internet. Only use online resources provided through the Purdue Libraries website or recommended by Purdue Librarians or your professors. 

Selecting a Research Topic

Many interesting topics are too large or demanding to cover in a semester or summer session. Be realistic about project scope and your ability to process and analyze information and data. Becoming familiar with existing studies helps in choosing a smaller topic or formulating a narrow question affecting the big picture.

Why Conduct a Literature Review?

Knowledge progresses logically from previous research. New ideas and discovery tend to come from observing and thinking about earlier work. Don't dismiss something because it's "old."

Practical uses of a literature review include:

  • Avoid duplicating others research and the embarrassment of not doing as good a job.
  • Find overlooked facets of a subject whose gaps you can fill in. This can narrow the topic.
  • Improve previous research by using better data, methods, and/or a better explanation.
  • Avoid niaive approaches, questionable assumptions, fuzzy terminology use, and failing to make crucial distinctions. Don't assume that present problem solving approaches or viewpoints are more valid than historical problem solving approaches or viewpoints.
  • Sharpen a small topic to a clear precise question.
  • If significant research has been done on a topic, work on developing a general explanation. Discover and compare competing explanations.
  • Identify other possible causes or correlates of the dependent variable in order to measure them in data collection.

Literature Review Benefits; Getting conceptual concepts and terms, empirical data sources and measurement, and competing theoretical hypotheses.

Conducting a Literature Review

Factors involved include: Purpose of the review (consider time limits), Developmental stage of existing research, available resources.

Focus on the accuracy, authority, objectivity, currency, and coverage of these resources. Refer to the previous page's web evaluation guide and only used websites linked to thru Purdue Libraries databases or online catalogs or recommended by Purdue Librarians or your professors. Library staff can show you how to access and utilize scholarly, books, journal articles, and websites for your research.

You can search for books using Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) searches in the Purdue Libraries online catalog. Sample terms you can use for such searches include: