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POLS-211 Canadian Government


In this module, we turn to finding scholarly journal articles. We will answer the following questions: 

  1. How do you locate a specific article when you already have a citation?
  2. How do you 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.

Looking for a "Known" Journal Article

In the course of your research you will come across articles you want to locate through the reference lists in a course textbook, an instructor's reading list or other readings you may have done. In other words, you need to locate a "known item." A reference to an article has two titles: title of the article and title of the periodical (journal, magazine or newspaper) in which the article is published.

Cody, H., & Gillies, J. (2015). "The Canadian Party System and the Leadership of Stephen Harper." The New England Journal of Political Science, 8 (1): 2-49.

When you have a citation to an article you want to locate there are a variety of options for locating it.

Best Bet: Search Summon by placing quotation marks around the title of the article and adding in the author's name and title of the periodical if necessary.  Summon doesn't include everything.

Option 2: You can also use the Journals A-Z tab on the library homepage to determine whether or not Queen's library has a subscription to the journal you are looking for.  From the Library Homepage, select the Journals A-Z tab, enter the name of the journal in the journal title box and click Search. Keeping the default set to "online and print" will maximize your chances of finding the journal subscription.

More often than not you don't have the benefit of an article or book title to get your research rolling but rather you have a topic. The best resources to use for locating articles on a topic -- but also the most challenging -- are the Library's subject-specific indexes and article 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. Yale University Library has compiled an excellent .pdf summary that responds to the question: The Web vs Library Databases - A Comparison.

From the Library Homepage there are several ways to find an article index or database that covers the literature of your discipline. Our LibGuide for Political Studies provides a list of recommended article databases to find politics-related, scholarly articles.

ProQuest's 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. The library has produced a subject guide to Multidisciplinary Databases in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Academic Search Complete is a multi-disciplinary index (with abstracts) to more than 10,900 publications including peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings, monographs and reports. Approximately 50% of the journal titles also contain the full-text of articles. If the full text of the article is not available in the database itself, click the "Get it at Queen's" icon to search for the article's availability through Queen's Library subscriptions.

To access the database, if you know the name of the database you wish to search, you can enter it through the Databases tab. From the Library Homepage, choose Databases tab and in the "Title contains" box type: Academic Search Complete. Click Search: 


[Academic Search Complete interface]


Though not considered scholarly content, newspapers can be particularly informative for more time-sensitive current federal elections. Browse today's newspapers using QUL's subscription to PressReader. (The Globe and Mail can only be accessed on campus.)