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Political Science: Literature search: Getting Started

How to Find Articles for a Research Paper

Sample topic: A student has an assigned research paper to do, and (s)he wants to write it on something that pertains to the electoral college.

Many students start with the OneSearch box, the first visible option on the Sawyer Library home page

Another option is to scroll to the Databases by Subject list, and check to see if there are any databases that are specific to the general subject area (i.e. political science or law). 

These two approaches will be compared below. 

The "OneSearch" box casts a wide net.

OneSearch: Search across databases:


The search above for electoral college generated over 20,000 results:


These search results may be narrowed down by adding additional search terms, or by use of the limiters, such as Peer Reviewed, to limit to articles from scholarly, peer reviewed journals. However, there are additional ways to conduct a more focused search from the outset. 




Discipline Specific Article Database: "Political Science Complete"

Political Science Complete:
Discipline specific, article database.


Select a discipline specific article database:

The journal database Political Science Complete (Sawyer Library homepage > Databases > Databases by Subject > Social Sciences > Political Science > Political Science Complete), specializes in the coverage of journals from the discipline of political science and government. It will generate far fewer results than the OneSearch box.


Combine Concepts using "AND"



Use multiple search boxes to combine concepts:

The search for electoral college AND popular vote resulted in 120 articles which contained both sets of search terms.

The search was then further limited to only those articles that have been published in peer reviewed (scholarly) journals.