Salisbury University Libraries


Holloway Hall

POSC204 Class Guide - Hoffman - Spring 2009

Getting Help

Getting help:

Hi, I'm Krista Knapp, your friendly reference/instructional librarian, and I'm here to help you!

How to get in touch with me:

  • In my office, BL129 (best to make an appointment)

  • By email:

  • By IM: paisleyr on Yahoo or on Facebook

  • At the Research Services Desk: Monday 8-10am, Wednesday 8-10am, Thursday 10-12pm, Friday 8-10am.  Admittedly, these are early.  If you want to email me to make an appointment at a more reasonable afternoon time, feel free!

You can also get help 24 hours a day/7 days a week through the Maryland AskUsNow chat reference service:


Background Information

Reference sources are a good place to start your research.  What is a reference source?  A reference source is something you consult for a specific piece of information, not something you read from cover to cover.  Reference sources include encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, thesauri, atlases, almanacs, directories, etc.  Blackwell Library's reference collection is located on the main floor.  Consult the Library of Congress Classification outline to see the call number area for your topic.

Why can't I just use Wikipedia, you ask? Well, anybody and their brother can get on Wikipedia and write whatever they want, for starters!  Plus, there are tons of more reliable, authoritative sources out there for you to use.  And, I just can't resist sharing my favorite Colbert Report clip about the downfalls of Wikipedia.  View it here (and please ignore the brief commercial at the beginning!):


Brainstorming Keywords / Finding Books

It's very important to remember that our catalog and databases do not search like Google searches!  It will not work to type in a long phrase with lots of articles and prepositions.  So,
here are some helpful keyword hints:

  • Identify simple one or two-word concepts in your topic.
           Example: Topic: How are race relations impacted by rap or hip hop music?
           Simple concepts: race, relations, rap, hip hop, music

  • Search your simple concepts with the word AND.  Example: Race AND rap music, race
           AND hip hop

  • Think of synonyms for your concepts.  Example: Instead of race relations, you might try
            racism, minorities, African Americans, social aspects.

  • Try lots of different combinations of your search terms!  You are unlikely to find exactly
           what you want just by doing one search!

  • Come to the Research Services desk for help if you get stuck!

Finding Books

Find books in Blackwell Library using our online library catalog.  Books in our library are arranged using Library of Congress Classification.  The books you can check out are located on the second floor of the library.  If you ever have trouble finding a book you want, PLEASE ask for help at the Research Desk!

Find books from other USMAI Libraries.  You can also borrow books from any of the USMAI affiliations by selecting the "choose campus" link at the top of the catalog page and then selecting "USMAI All Campuses."  When you find a book you want that is not in Blackwell, click the "request" button and use your ID number to login.  You can have the book delivered to Blackwell within 3 or 4 days.  This tutorial shows you how it's done!


Finding Articles / Find It Button

Ask yourself if you need scholarly sources or popular sources for your assignment.  Many times, your professor will insist on scholarly sources.  What does that mean?  Find out using this

Now, keep in mind, these links will only work from on campus.  From off campus, you must use Research Port (watch this tutorial to find out how!)

Here are some databases that may be useful for topics in Political Science:

  • Academic Search Complete* - a multidisciplinary database containing both scholarly and popular sources, many of which have full-text available.  ASP is a good place to start your research.  Use the FindIt button to locate articles that are not available full-text.
  • Lexis-Nexis Academic - a great source for full-text world news and legal information.
  • National Newspapers - a source of U.S. news from major papers including The New York Times and The Washington Post
  • JSTOR Arts & Sciences - a huge, wonderful database of scholarly communication from a wide variety of disciplines, including Political Science.  All of these sources are full-text, but the newest documents are 3-5 years old.
  • CQ Weekly - Congressional Quarterly's magazine on government, commerce and politics.
  • America: History and Life*  - U.S. and Canadian historical sources.  Use the FindIt button to locate articles that are not available full-text.
  • Social Sciences Abstracts* - covers all the social sciences.  It's an EBSCO database, same as Academic Search Complete, so the interface will look familiar.  There are some full-text articles; for others, use the FindIt button.

*These EBSCO databases can be searched simultaneously!  Find out how!


It's a bit like magic, really.  The Find It button does three things:

  • Looks in all of our databases to see if the document you want is available full-text in another of our databases.  If so, it links you to it!

  • Links you to the library catalog when we have the item you want in print or microform.

  • Links you to ILLiad (interlibrary loan) so you can borrow the item from another library if we don't have access electronically or in print.

The Find It button is YOUR FRIEND!!!

This tutorial lets you see the FIND IT BUTTON in action!

AND, this tutorial gives you a little insight about Interlibrary Loan!


Citing your Work

Plagiarism is not cool.  Of course you want to make sure you give proper credit to any source that you use to write your papers, whether you directly quote or paraphrase.  This guide helps students understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it:

For citation help, check out the SU's Citation Style Guide.

Also check out the Political Science Paper Documentation Guide.


Everyone's Favorite: Statistics! And, even more fun, Government Info!

Statistics can be really tricky to track if you are looking for something specific, let me know and I will help!  Here are some websites that may have what you're looking for!

Polling Data

There are other good sources of data on the web in addition to the ones I've listed.  Always make sure that internet resources are appropriate for your project.  If you have any doubts, check out the criteria listed on this website.

If the link above doesn't make things crystal clear, and you're still questioning the appropriateness of a website, please check with your professor or a librarian.


Subject Guide Home | Library Home

The librarian liaison to Political Science is Gaylord Robb, | 410-677-0118