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POLS-110: Introduction to Politics

Finding Articles


In this module, we turn to finding articles - specifically scholarly journal articles. We will address: 

  • the characteristics of different types of articles (scholarly, popular and newspaper)
  • how to locate a specific article when you have a citation, and
  • how to find articles on a topic using Proquest's Political Studies database
Articles are one of the best sources of information on any given topic. They can contain news, detailed analysis, or the results of a scientific study. Issued "periodically" in daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or irregular intervals, articles are found in a variety of publications including journals, magazines and newspapers and are now predominantly online. The second floor of Stauffer library contains the print journals (both current and bound volumes) to which the library subscribes.


Scholarly journal articles are a critical source of authoritative information, as they contain the results of original academic research or experimentation. Scholarly journals are also referred to as "academic," "peer-reviewed," or "refereed" journals. Using scholarly or peer-reviewed journal articles is usually a requirement in university course assignments.




Popular Magazines

Scholarly Journals


To provide information on current events.
Local and regional focus.

To inform or entertain readers on general interest topics in broad subject fields.

Report on original research or experimentation.


Journalists on staff or freelance writers.

Staff or freelance writers.

Scholar/expert within an academic field or discipline.


Newspaper editor reviews submitted articles.

Magazine editor reviews submitted articles.

Experts in the field review articles submitted for publication. Publications that undertake this editorial process are also known as peer-reviewed or refereed publications.

Intended Audience

General public.

General public.

Professors, researchers, college and university students.


Simple, non-technical, easy to understand.

Some simple, others more demanding but still easy to understand and  non-technical.

Specialized vocabulary of the discipline.


Black and white, some colour, containing many photographs and illustrations.

Slick, glossy, contain photographs and illustrations.

Shorter articles.

Serious look. Plain, black and white, containing charts, graphs, and tables.

Lengthy articles and academic level book reviews.



Contain extensive advertising.

Contain extensive advertising.

Selective advertising. Few ads, usually for publications or services in the discipline.


Commercial publishers.

Frequency varies but usually daily.

Commercial publishers.

Usually published weekly or monthly.

Scholarly presses
Academic/research organizations.

Published monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.


Usually do not cite. Sources sometimes quoted in article text.

Usually do not cite. Sources sometimes quoted in article text.

Extensive documentation.
Bibliographies or references included.


New York Times
The Guardian
Globe and Mail
Ottawa Citizen


European Journal of Political Research;
Journal of Political Ideologies



You won't always have the benefit of an article or book title to get your research rolling but rather you have a broad topic. The best tools to use for locating articles on a topic -- but sometimes the most challenging -- are the Library's subject-specific indexes and databases.

The Library subscribes to hundreds of online article indexes and databases (over 650 databases at last count) on a wide range of subjects. WHY? Students often wonder why the library purchases pricey subscriptions to article indexes ('databases") when it is so much easier to use the web. There are numerous answers to the question but the strongest is that academic databases make it easier to identify scholarly resources that are most appropriate for use in the academic learning environment.

From the Library Homepage there are several ways to find an article index or database that covers the literature of your discipline. Our Research Guide for Political Studies provides a list of recommended article databases but also refer to "Searching Omni" for help navigating the library's search interface. (Omni searches for books, book chapters, videos, articles and conference proceedings at Queen's University Library.)

Proquest Politics Collection is made up of a pre-selected group of 4 databases covering literature published in political studies (PAIS, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, Worldwide Political Abstracts, and Proquest Political Science). In addition to full text articles, the collection contains full-text dissertations, thousands of working papers, country reports, and government documents, offering an international perspective from leading and emerging academics, policy makers, and think tanks.

The following screen capture demonstrates a few of the most useful limits to apply to searches. In particular, note the limit to "peer review" and "scholarly journals."

Subscription-based databases contain content (citations or full text articles, for example) that is not freely available through other search tools such as web search engines like Bing, Google and Yahoo. These databases also provide a variety of search options including the ability to limit to scholarly journal content and full text. As such, these types of library subscription databases are your primary gateway to the scholarly literature in your field.

Multidisciplinary databases cover a range of subject areas.  If your topic does not fall neatly into one subject area, or if you would like different perspectives on your topic, these general databases can be a good place to start your research. Multidisciplinary Databases at Queen's Library.

[Google Scholar]Google Scholar

Google Scholar ( is Google's scholarly search engine. It searches for scholarly materials including journal articles, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from a variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web. It is useful as a supplementary search tool but not comprehensive enough in the area of political studies to be used exclusively.

Points to Consider

  • Coverage appears to be strongest in science and technology, and weakest in the humanities;
  • There isn't a way to focus your search on political studies materials (unlike when you search one of the library's specialized article databases);
  • Google Scholar only includes articles that are within reach of its crawler, which is a much smaller subset of scholarly articles than found in some of the databases subscribed to by Queen’s Library; and
  • In some cases the content is freely available in full text, while in other instances abstracts with links to pay-for document delivery services are displayed.

Customize Your Scholar Preferences: Get It@Queen's

[Scholar Preferences] Click on the Settings "gear" located in the upper right hand corner of the Google Scholar search page to customize your Scholar Preferences (several preferences you can set and save). When searching Google Scholar from on-campus, the Library Links preference will already be set to allow for the Get it @ Queen's service. This service links citations in research databases to full-text articles or to the Library Catalogue or to other related web services provided by Queen's University Library.

Is an article peer-reviewed?

There are a few options to quickly determine whether an article is considered peer-reviewed (aka 'refereed').

  1. Go to the journal's website and read the "About this journal" section. For example, take a look at the Canadian Journal of Political Science-Revue canadienne de science politique. Their statement is fairly typical, and reads "Through its peer-reviewed quarterly publication, the Canadian Journal of Political Science-Revue canadienne de science politique (CJPS-RCSP), the Association promotes the exchange of views on matters relating to political science and facilitates the growth, expression, and transmission of intellectually rigorous political science knowledge in and about Canada."
  2. Visit, a directory of journals that provides data about whether a journal is refereed as well as where the journal's contents are indexed, whether the journal is open access (free), etc.