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Political Studies: Start Your Assignment

How to Start Your Research Assignment

What do you have to do to successfully complete this assignment? How long will each step take you?

Make a list of the tasks you need to accomplish. Set a schedule to finish each task. Put the schedule into your calendar.

Is your topic the right size? Most students choose a topic that is too large. Doing some presearch on your topic can help you get the big picture and understand what narrower topics are available.

Reference resources help you get started on a new topic, answer quick questions, and/or point you to further resources. Examples of reference resources include:
Almanacs - Atlases - Dictionaries - Encyclopedias - Handbooks - Indexes - Thesauri

Wikipedia is a crowd-sourced encyclopedia. Credo Reference is a collection of all of the above.

What questions will you need to answer to write about your topic? What information will you need to find to support your argument?

Make a list to help guide your research.


It's true - keywords are the key to success when it comes to research. Generating a list of keywords before you start searching - and adding to the list as you go - will make you an efficient, effective searcher. If you can't find what your looking for, it's probably due to bad keywords. 

  1. Write down your topic.
  2. Identify which of the words you've written can be used as keywords. Hint: pick only ones with meaning directly connected to your topic. Ex. Are safe-injection sites good for Vancouver
  3. Brainstorm synonyms, broader & narrower and related words. Ex. safe-injection sites = Insite, needle exchanges; Vancouver = Lower Mainland, Canada, BC, British Columbia, Fraser Health


What kind of resources are you able to use for this assignment?  Where can you find these kinds of resources?

  • academic vs popular
  • primary vs secondary
  • media 
  • reports and data

Browse the Shelves

Academic libraries in North America organize their collections according to the Library of Congress Classification system. Political Studies material is mainly shelved in the J section at CapU Library. A few key areas are:

J Political Science
JC Political Theory
JK United States
JL Canada
JX, JZ International Relations

Featured RSS feed: BC Government Newsroom: Labour, Citizens' Services and Open Government

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Reference Resources - Online

A great way to start your research is by getting a general overview of your topic.  Reference materials such as encyclopedias, subject-based dictionaries and general textbooks are reliable sources for this type of information.  Check out our recommended references below.

Reference Resources - In Print

Featured Podcast

Want an easy way to learn about new books in political science? Check out the New Books in Political Science podcast. The podcast features in-depth discussions with political science authors about their recent work. Topics include hip-hop and black politics, the history of the filibuster, conspiracy theories, and the meaning of citizenship.