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Choosing and Defining a Research Topic

o Select a topic that interests you and get a brief overview starting with general reference resources (encyclopedias, bibliographies, and dictionaries)

o Get a general understanding of special terminology, major concepts, prominent figures, and experts associated with your topic

o Select key words, concepts, and themes that frequently appear in your area of study

o From these selections, begin to form a thesis statement or research question

o For each of your keywords and concepts, try to think of synonyms that you could use to start searching the catalogue and databases

o Remember that online searching is often trial and error and may take some time to refine

Related Encyclopedias for Political Science

Encyclopedia of Law and Society: American and Global Perspectives: This online encyclopedia  represents interdisciplinary perspectives on law from sociology, criminology, cultural anthropology, political science, social psychology, and economics. This resource includes entries that are historical, comparative, topical, thematic, and methodological. It also presents European, Latin American, Asian, African, and Australasian developments and examines how and why legal systems grow and change, how and why they respond to their environment. (online)

International Encyclopedia of Civil Society: This online encyclopedia provides summaries of concepts and theories, definitions of terms, biographical entries, and organizational profiles.  It will also serve as a guide to sources of information on  social capital, philanthropy and nonprofits in different parts of the world, and across cultures and historical periods. (online)

Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History: This online encyclopedia traces the history of political institutions, parties, and founding documents. It explains and analyses ideas, philosophies, and movements that have shaped American politics. Furthermore, it presents the political history and influence of geographic regions and how the roles of ethnic, racial, and religious groups shape the political process. It also examines recurring issues that shape political campaigns and policy, from class, gender, and race to crime, education, taxation, voting, welfare, and much more. (online)

Encyclopedias for Political Science

Encyclopedia of Politics: The Left and the Right: This online reference resource contains over 450 articles on individuals, movements, political parties, and ideological principles, with those usually thought of as left in the left-hand volume (Volume 1), and those considered on the right in the right-hand volume (Volume 2). Key Themes include: Countries/Regions, “Isms”, Laws, Political Issues. Political Movements, Political Parties, and People. (online) 

Encyclopedia of Political Theory: This online encyclopedia examines the global landscape of all key political theories and the theorists, presenting them in the context needed to understand their strengths and weaknesses. It also provides concise, to-the-point definitions of key concepts, ideas, schools, and figures. Coverage includes: Ancient Theory, Medieval Theory, Early Modern Theory, Enlightenment, Modern Theory, Constitutionalism, Liberalism, Critical Theory, Continental Theory, Empirical Theory, Comparative Political Thought, and many others. (online)

International Encyclopedia of Political Science: This online encyclopedia provides a comprehensive picture of all aspects of political life, recognizing the theoretical and cultural pluralism of approaches and including findings from international perspectives. This resource covers every field of politics, from political theory and methodology to political sociology, comparative politics, public policies, and international relations. (online)