Skip to main content
Michigan State University

Political Science / Public Policy Resources: Find Articles


  • An article is a written piece from a publication such as a journal, magazine or newspaper.
  • Faculty expect edited pieces from a valid publisher; information on the web from companies or individuals and wikipedia are usually unacceptable
  • Faculty may require articles of a particular type, i.e. newspaper, popular magazine, or scholarly journal. See this chart for a refresher.
  • Access to articles is provided through licensed databases on the library website. These databases collect articles from many publications.
  • Some of the most useful of these databases for your discipline are listed to the right. Others are found on our Electronic Resources web page where you find electronic resources broken out by type (indexes, newspapers, journals, for example) or by category (environmental studies).

Undergraduate Starting Point for Overviews

  • Opposing Viewpoints in Context . Articles with pro/con viewpoints on a variety of social and hot-button issues.
  • CQ Researcher . Reports on current, hot, and controversial topics such as "Embryo Research," "Rethinking Ritalin," "Drinking on Campus," etc.
  • Don't forget to check the Reference Tools tab for more resources for finding background information on topics

Impact Factors

Interested in seeing which political science journals have the highest impact factor?  Defining “top” journals can be problematic. If you are looking for a consistent metric to select “best” journals in criminal justice, you may want to use Incites Journal Citation Reports  to help determine the journals with the highest impact factors. This guide walks you through finding impact factors, as well as listing the caveats of using impact factors to gauge quality.

(1) Go to MSU Libraries Home Page

(2) Click on databases tab

(3) Click on browse the database list by subject, title, or vendor

(4) Click on J and scroll down to Journal Citations Reports and select

(5) Change default on JCR to Social Sciences edition

(6) View a group of journals by subject category and hit submit

(7) Choose political science and view journal data (sort by impact factor) then submit.


Don't know where to start?   The MSU Libraries offers a discovery layer or interface called SearchPlus.  SearchPlus pulls together a large number of databases (including the Library Catalog) into a unified search engine, increasing one's chances of finding results by keyword or phrase.  Whenever possible, links are provided directly to the online source identified.

So this is a great tool for undergraduates not knowing where to start.   It is also a good starting point for graduate students and faculty looking for materials outside their established silos.  Once you do a search; note how SearchPlus offers a large number of facets on the left side to refine your search.

SearchPlus is a starting tool.   Advanced researchers will still want to explore more deeply in specialized databases, particularly those that are not covered by SearchPlus.

Multidisciplinary Databases for Undergraduates

Don't have much time? Undergraduates may want to start with these basic all-purpose databases in this collection.

Expanded Academic ASAP (1980 to date).   Provides coverage of 3,000 indexed and 1,900 full-text titles in a wide variety of disciplines including: social science journals, humanities journals, science and technology journals, national news periodicals, general interest magazines, newswires, The New York Times and many others. More than 1,400 journals are peer reviewed, and more than 20 years of backfile coverage are included.  Check out the browse subjections section for all the entries starting with African American!

JSTOR.  Searchable database of the full text of journals covering a wide array of academic topics including anthropology, Asian Studies, ecology, economics, education, finance, history, literature, mathematics, philosophy, political science, population studies, and sociology.  Years available vary with each title, but the most recent issues available in JSTOR will normally be 4-5 years old due to embargoes from publishers.

Periodicals Archive Online (1770-2000) is a database of millions of articles published in the arts, humanities and social sciences, across more than 300 years, by Proquest. Covers more than 3,000 journals.

Project Muse.  This database provides access to two hundred humanities and social science journals from 29 not-for-profit, scholarly publishers.  Years offered by each journal vary but usually are only the most recent issues. Muse is a unique collaboration between the participating publishers and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library at the Johns Hopkins University.

Proquest Research Library (indexing: 1971 to date; full-text: 1991 to date).  Provides online access to an extensive collection of published material. You can search for information in thousands of different journals, periodicals, dissertations, newspapers, and magazines. Complete articles -- in full text, page image, or UMI's unique Text+Graphics format -- are available for many of the most popular and important sources. Provides full text coverage of over 400 journals. However, full text coverage varies by date from journal to journal.

Social Sciences Full Text (EBSCOHost).  Provides access to 624 journals dating back to 1983 -- nearly 400 of which are peer reviewed.

Google Scholar, current.  Google has created this database to speed location of reports and journal articles available on the Internet. Google is also working hard on facilitating links to subscription resources offered by university libraries. However not all the links work yet. So if you find an interesting article or resources via this database, be sure to check whether it is available via the MSU Libraries electronic or print collections.

Primary Databases for Advanced and Graduate Students

Advanced undergraduates and graduate students willing to dig deeper should explore the following resources.

Political Science Complete (EBSCO). Provides full text for over 500 publications, and cover-to-cover indexing and abstracts for more than 1995 journals. The database also features more than 189 full-text reference books and monographs, and over 27,000 full text conference papers, including those of the International Political Science Association.  Note:  This database is covered by SearchPlus; however SearchPlus will only show 200 maximum hits for any given search.

PAIS (1915 to date).   Combines PAIS International and PAIS Archives into one new database. Indexes selected books, government documents, and periodical articles on contemporary public issues and the making of public policy.

Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO). Indexes and selectively publishes post-1990 scholarship and reports on international affairs. Provides full-text access to relevant Columbia University Press titles and many recent journals, papers from university research institutes and non-governmental organizations, foundation-funded research projects, and conference proceedings. CIAO also has links to international affairs centers, institutes, and other resources; U.S., international, and foreign govenment sites; environmental studies web pages; and news media services.

International Political Science Abstracts. A bibliographic database produced since 1951 by the International Political Science Association that indexes and abstracts articles from periodicals published throughout the world. The abstracts summarize the source articles. Coverage is from 1989 to the present. Articles in English are abstracted in English; those in other languages are abstracted in French, with all titles translated into English. 

Social Science Research Network : Political Science.  Look for articles before they appear elsewhere.  Tomorrow's research today is the slogan.  Also includes guides such as:

Issue Lab the Foundation Center is working to more effectively gather, index, and share the collective intelligence of the social sector. They provide free access to thousands of case studies, evaluations, white papers, and issue briefs addressing some of the world's most pressing social problems.

Peace Research Abstracts (EBSCO) . Bibliographic records covering essential areas related to peace research, including conflict resolution, international affairs, peace psychology, and more. Coverage dates back to 1964.

Policy Archivea comprehensive digital library of public policy research containing over 30,000 documents.

PolicyFile - A unique resource for U.S. public policy research. Users are able to access timely, updated information from over 350 public policy think tanks, nongovernmental organizations, research institutes, university centers, advocacy groups, and other entities.  Coverage: 1990 to date.

Public Administration Abstracts (1974 to date). Covers essential areas related to public administration, including public administration theory, and other areas of key relevance to the discipline. The index contains more than 88,000 records, which are carefully selected from the most important sources within the discipline. Mostly bibliographic citations.

Legal Databases

Hein Online (also know as HeinOnline) : Provides access to law journals, UN publications, U.S. documents, and world constitutions.

Index to Legal Periodicals & Books (EBSCOHost) : Provides thorough, reliable indexing of over 994 journals, yearbooks, institutes, bar association organs, law reviews and university publications from the U.S., Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico. Covers all areas of jurisprudence, including court decisions, legislation, and original scholarship.

Legaltrac : Use this database to research: Case Studies, Government Regulations, Practice of Law, Statutes, Taxation and International Law. Access all major law reviews, and specialty law and bar association journals.

LexisNexis Academic : Provides access to full-text news, business, and legal publications, using a variety of flexible search options. One of the most heavily used databases in higher education.  Note that you can select government and politics as a subject to focus your search.

Proquest Congressional : Provides users with efficient, targeted access to the most comprehensive collection of historic and current  congressional information available anywhere online. This collection includes the full text of  congressional publications (including hearings, reports, and documents), finding aids, a bill tracking service, and the full text of public laws and other research materials to enable both novice and experienced researchers to complete many types of research projects using a single, user-friendly interface. Since Congress is interested in all public policy, social, and economic issues, the database is an effective source for general research in many academic disciplines, in addition to research related to specific legislative proposals and laws. Note: not everything identified in this database is available full-text; however with the citation we can track down the items for you.

Proquest Statistical Insight : Provides users with access to statistical publications of the US government, state governments, international organizations, and professional associations. 

Databases in Related Areas

Since political science topics are often multidisciplinary, you may want to search the following periodical indexes as well to find more information.

America, History and Life, (1970 to date).  Provides access to articles, book reviews, and dissertations in American and Canadian history.

Communication and Mass Media Complete. Provides indexing and abstracting for more than 600 publications, and includes selected full-text coverage for more than 240 journals in communications, mass media, and related fields. Topics include (among many others) health communication, gender and communication, communication theory, and mass media.

Historical Abstracts (1977 to date).  Provides access to historical articles for the Modern period (the present) for Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Latin America.  Note : Historical Abstracts is located near the bottom of the list.

International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (1951 to date).  Indexes the information contained in over 2,600 social sciences journals and 6,000 books each year. Coverage includes both core and specialized material from over 100 countries in more than 90 languages. Approximately 70% of the records are in English, and articles in other languages are displayed with both the original language title as well as with an English translation. The comprehensive coverage provided in the database, while based on the core disciplines of anthropology, economics, political science and sociology, also reflects the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of the social sciences. Courtesy of the London School of Economics and Political Science, British Library of Political and Economic Science. Access limited to 1 simulataneous user

PubMedPubMed is the National Library of Medicine's search service that provides access to over 11 million citations in MEDLINE, PreMEDLINE, and other related databases, with links to participating online journals.

Readers' Guide Abstracts via WilsonWeb (1983 to date). Indexes general interest magazines and some scholarly journals.

Sociological Abstracts  (1963 to date).  Indexes approximately 2300 journals in 30 different languages from 55 countries. Covers sociological topics in fields such as: aging; AIDS; alcohol and drug abuse; anthropology; cities; communications; counseling; crime; culture; death; demography; education; emergency response; ethics; gerontology; health; health care; industry; law; medicine; philosophy; planning; political science; psychiatry; psychology; public administration; public affairs; public health; rehabilitation; religion; welfare. 

Web of Science. Indexes science, social sciences, and arts and humanities information from nearly 9,300 of the most prestigious, high impact research journals in the world. Note: you can restrict your search to the Science Citation Citation Index (1900 to date), the Social Sciences Citation Index (1956 to date), or the Arts and Humanities Citation Index (1975 to date).  Note:

Web of Science is working hard to integrate author works.  As of right now, it doesn’t know that “Wiseman RM” (old style naming convention) and “Wiseman Robert M” (new naming convention) are the same person.  To get a full list, search Web of Science by using the author index option in the advanced search and checkmark all the variants of the name.  Then limit to ‘social sciences’ to eliminate articles appearing in Humanities and Sciences (if appropriate).

Reference Databases

Need some background information? Try the following reference databases available on the world wide web.

ParLine Database

The PARLINE database (a derivative of Parliaments on-Line) has been developed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and is regularly updated on the basis of official information provided by national Parliaments. Whenever other sources of information are used, as is the case with preliminary results of parliamentary elections in some countries before comprehensive official results are made public, these alternative sources are indicated accordingly. For all countries where a national legislature exists, the database provides:

  • General information on each of the Parliament's chambers
  • Description of the electoral system
  • Results of the most recent elections
  • Information on the presidency of each Chamber
  • Information on the mandate and status of members of Parliament.

Women in Politics Bibliographic Database via WWW

"The database is regularly up-dated to take account of new books and articles produced throughout the world on the subject of women in politics. So far, it covers some 650 titles representing international, regional, country-by-country as well as thematic perspectives of the subject." Courtesy of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Subject Guide

Ask a Librarian

Michigan State University