Department of Political Science, Queens College
to Research a Political Science Paper
Peter Liberman, Queens College Dept.
of Political Science, September 2001
Where can college students find the best sources for their research?
Most research at the undergraduate level, due to time and
constraints, is conducted in the library or using electronic media (via
the internet). This does not limit students to stock-taking research
projects. Indeed, many a political science professional has written
theory-proposing, theory-testing, historical explanation, policy
analysis, or predictive works relying on purely or mainly library
Of course, your college library is a lot smaller than leading research
libraries, lacking not only their immense holdings of journals and
books, but also some useful bibliographic tools. But one of the best
research libraries in the world is right in Manhattan, the New York
Public Library's research branch at 41st Street and Fifth Ave. (The
research branch's stacks are closed and its books do not circulate; you
must request each book you want and use it in the reading room). In
addition, your library subscribes to some powerful on-line
bibliographic tools, reference works, and full-text newspapers, policy
journals, and scholarly journals. (See below).
Beyond that, there is the public domain world wide web, which contains
vast array of information. But students beware: most of the information
on the web is useless, erroneous, incomplete, and almost always of
lesser quality than published materials. Anybody with a computer can
post whatever they want on the web, while publication is a more costly
process that tends to filter out material of low quality. As a general
rule, it is usually inadvisable to use as a research source information
from the world wide web that has not also been published in a reputable
press or journal. (The scholarly journals available via the library's
on-line subscriptions are examples of the latter).