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POL 334 — American Foreign Policy

ATTENTION: This research guide was last modified on September 09, 2009, before the January 2012 redesign of the library's home page. Information on how to access journal articles, databases, and other library resources may be inaccurate or outdated.

For up-to-date instructions on accessing materials, please visit our tutorial pages instead.


Contact Information

Caroline Bordinaro


Concepts and Questions for Beginning Research

Advice for Searching Library Databases

Finding Journal Articles Online

Avoiding Plagiarism

Scholarly Internet Research

General Research Suggestions

Library Guides (.doc format)

Concepts and Questions for Beginning Research

Where to Start?

    • What's your research question?
    • What information do you need to find?

Who cares about the same information? (e.g.: researchers, historians, government, etc.)

    • What kind of information do they need?
    • Where would they get it?

What resource are you currently using? Why is it important to know?

    • Is there a better tool for the job?
    • Are you using it in the most efficient/effective way?

Types of information available

    • Books
    • Articles from journals, magazines and newspapers
    • Websites
    • Newsletters
    • Reports

Advice for Searching Library Databases


DATABASE: An organized collection of information, especially electronic information.

ONLINE JOURNAL INDEX: A database that contains magazine, newspaper and journal articles e.g: Academic Search Premier

JOURNAL (also SCHOLARLY JOURNAL): Articles usually reviewed by experts in the field before publication; published for an academic or research audience; narrow focus; e.g.; American Journal of Psychology

MAGAZINE: Publication of general interest: popular interest and broad subjects (e.g: Psychology Today)

ABSTRACT: a brief summary of the main content of an article

FULL TEXT: the complete article. Click on the button to see if the Full Text is available.

CITATION: the essential information about a periodical article or book. May include article title, author, publication name, date, pages, volume/issue, publisher.

Search Concepts
- creating an effective search

  • Take your research question and circle the "important words" (keywords).
  • Think of at least three synonyms for each keyword.
  • Use these words in various combinations to get a good result (between 10-45 results is optimal).

 Combining keywords

1. AND: government AND bailout AND states
2. OR: octuplets OR multiples
3. NOT: court NOT supreme

Phrase searching"" ( "federal trade deficit", "Arnold Schwartzenegger")

Advanced Search: Use this frequently to determine your search options. This will save you TIME and FRUSTRATION!

Remember, the more words you use to search or the more limits you place on a search, the fewer results you will get. (How can you get more results?)


 Rules and advice

  • Find index descriptors attached to useful article citations- redo your search with these "Official Database Topic Terms"
  • Always use the E-Mail, Print and Save functions embedded within the database window. It is usually not a good idea to use the File-Print or File-Save As functions in the upper left hand corner of the browser.
  • All databases function essentially the same way and have similar features.

Finding Journal Articles Online

Online indexes must be accessed through the CSUDH library homepage (library.csudh.edu). Select Journal Articles & Electronic Resources; You may either browse by subject area or go to your favorite resource using the Alphabetical List.

NOTE: These are subscription online journal indexes, selected and provided specifically for CSUDH students. To access from home, please see our How to Log in to the Databases from Off-Campus guide for instructions.

Recommended Social/Political Science journal indexes:

  • OxResearch: Provides analytical articles covering world and regional economic and political developments of major significance. Evaluates issues and events within a coherent political, social, and economic framework.
  • CQ Researcher: Provides exhaustive reports on current topics and pending state and federal legislation.
  • PAIS International: indexes journal articles and other research in the areas of public affairs, public and social policies and international relations.(Challenging to search) Covers publications from 1972 - present.
  • EIU Viewswire: Offering in-depth coverage of 195 countries, EIU ViewsWire highlights up to 250 important economic, political and market developments around the world and provides concise analytical briefings on their implications for business.
  • JSTOR: Peer reviewed journal articles on a wide range of social sciences topics.

Other recommended Social Science and General Interest indexes:

  • Science Direct: Peer reviewed research in a variety of sciences. Includes articles accepted but not yet published.
  • Project Muse: Collection of scholarly articles in the humanities and social sciences with a global and historical focus.
  • Academic Search Premier*: Our most popular general index. Many full-text articles. Easy search and retrieval. Many older articles.
  • ProQuest Databases*: Excellent multi-subject index, with many full-text articles. Very easy to search.
  • WilsonWeb: OmniFile Full-Text Mega*: Another multi-subject index. Lots of full-text.

*To limit search to peer-reviewed journals only, look for check box next to Peer-Reviewed, Scholarly Journals, or Academic Journals on database search screen (may be in Advanced Search)

Not sure how to search? Use our How To Find Articles help page for assistance.

Avoiding Plagiarism

What is plagiarism? - Plagiarism is "The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft." (OED)

In essence, when you quote or paraphrase from somebody else's work without citing it, you are plagiarizing their work. Plagiarism is a serious matter, and could result in a lower or failing grade and even in your expulsion from university. Just rewording your work isn't enough to avoid plagiarism. Since you are still borrowing information heavily from another writer, you still need to include a citation.

But I didn't know! - Ignorance of the law is unfortunately no excuse. You can commit plagiarism without meaning to, and it's just as serious a problem if you do.

How can I avoid it? - You can avoid plagiarism by always citing your sources. Whenever you put a quotation or borrow information heavily from a source, be sure you include a citation in the proper APA style. This will let your professor know you aren't trying to pass the idea off as your own. Taking detailed notes on where you get your information helps a lot with this, since it prevents you from forgetting which is your own work and which is borrowed from others.

For more information, see your student handbook and this handout by Sheela Pawar at CSUDH

Scholarly Internet Research

Remember, not all web sites are created equally. Some sites can be valid sources of information, but others are filled with opinion represented as fact. While there isn't a 100% effective way to figure out what kind of site you're looking at, here are some guidelines to follow when using the internet for research:

  • Check Credibility - Is it easy to figure out who's behind the information? Does whomever it is know what they're talking about? Do they have qualifications in the field or some other reason to be trust-worthy in it?
  • Check Accuracy - Are the sources cited well? Is the information up-to-date? Are there any broad, sweeping generalisations that are impossible to verify?
  • Check Reasonableness - What is the page's point-of-view? Is it a corporate page trying to sell you a product? Is it a government or educational site where the main purpose is to educate people?
  • Check Support - Is it possible to double-check the information in another location?

Useful Scholarly Websites

INFOMINE is a virtual library of Internet resources relevant to faculty, students, and research staff at the university level. It contains useful Internet resources such as databases, electronic journals, electronic books, bulletin boards, mailing lists, online library card catalogs, articles, directories of researchers, and many other types of information.

The Librarians' Internet Index aims to provide a well-organized point of access for reliable, trustworthy, librarian-selected websites, serving California, the nation, and the world. All links on the Index are selected and approved by librarians before inclusion.

For more information, check out our guide on Evaluating Web Resources

General Research Suggestions

Use multiple search terms - Remember, not every database or article uses exactly the same words to describe the same thing. Make sure you try several synonyms for the term you're trying to find. Most databases have a link titled "thesaurus" or "subject terms" which you can use to find out what words to search for.

Search in multiple places - The more places you look for information, the more information you're likely to find. Don't just search in one database and assume it's all you'll be able to find! Take a look at the list of Useful Databases earlier on in this page for where to start your search.

Ask for help - Don't be afraid to ask for help! Research can be an exhausting process, and sometimes a fresh perspective will make your task immensely easier. You can stop by the reference desk in the library and ask any of the reference librarians for help with your research. You can also submit an online help request which a librarian will answer within a day or two.

Don't leave it until the last minute - The earlier you start, the better your paper will be. Starting early gives you plenty of time to read and absorb the information so that you'll be properly informed when writing your paper.

Library Guides (.doc format)
  • Finding journal articles using Academic Search Premier (advanced search/retrieval methods, Interlibrary Loan)
  • Accessing databases from off campus
  • What is a Literature Review?
  • Searching Google (advanced Internet search methods)
  • OR click here to download ALL FOUR GUIDES with BONUS MATERIAL! (10pgs.)