Political Science Research Sources

Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
The professional study of political science is research intensive. In this lesson, you'll learn about some of the important reference sources and tools that are available to political science researchers.

Overview of Political Science Research

Madeline is a political scientist that works as a professor at a state university. Part of her work involves pursuing political science research, which focuses on the study of the political process including the institutions and people involved in them. In other words, her research involves the study of politics at the local, state, national, or international level. She's currently researching gun control in the United States. Let's take a quick look at some of the sources and tools available to Madeline.

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

One of the most important concepts Madeline must take into account when assessing sources in political science research is the concept of primary sources and secondary sources. A primary source is either an original document or an account of events prepared by someone who witnessed the events. For example, the text of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution (addressing the right to bear arms) is a primary source. On the other hand, secondary sources discuss and analyze primary sources. For example, Madeline may review several journal articles analyzing the text of the Second Amendment.

Peer-Reviewed Sources

Not all sources are created equally. Just because a book or article is published, doesn't mean Madeline and other researchers should find the source credible. One of the best indicia of credibility for sources is whether the source has been peer-reviewed. A peer-reviewed source is one that has been reviewed by a group of recognized experts on the subject matter of the work presented for publication. The peer reviewers will review for accuracy and determine whether the work's research methodology and conclusions meet recognized academic standards. If the work doesn't meet these standards, it will be rejected for publication.

Types of Research Sources

Madeline has many different types of research sources at her disposal:

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