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Lemieux Library

International Studies

Use this guide as a starting point for research in International Studies.


Welcome to this resource guide for International Studies


My contact information is available to the right.  Please ask if you want more assistance with your research.



General Information Sources

Browsing reference materials is an excellent way to find background information.

Research Path

5 Step Research Path

  • Choose a topic
  • Find background information
  • Find more information
  • Evaluate your information
  • Cite your sources

Starting points for research


When choosing a research topic, ask "What do I want to know?", "what do I already know" and "what are the various components or issues involved"

Have a topic.....

1. Identify terms & concepts. Clarify your topic by restating it as a research question.

2. Review related literature to help you focus on how to analyze your topic. As you search and learn about your topic, create a list of synonyms. To find synonyms or descriptors you can: 1) use a thesaurus; 2) look at descriptors or subject terms on a citation/abstract in article databases; 3) use the database's thesaurus or suggestions for terms; 4) ask a librarian.

3. Use background material, introductory chapters in books, articles, etc. Repeat this part of the research process until you satisfactorily hone in on your topic.

4. Find sources which add  to your knowledge and extend your argument.

  • Look at your problem from your discipline, but also see how other disciplines approach the same problem. For example, research on incarceration, would be covered in criminal justice and legal journals, but also in sociological, psychological and medical journals.
  • Look for new ideas, as well as for material with which you may disagree.

Searching Strategically....

1. Know your audience. Your audience or required format will determine type and number of sources.

2. Identify the primary "actors" or stakeholders to help you determine likely sources of information: government documents, newspapers, credible websites, scholarly articles.

3. Use terms and concepts for your topic to build a search strategy.

  • Set up your strategy using combining  terms with  AND, OR, NOT.
  • Review and refine results:  too broad Focus  research by  limiting  terms: date, geography and selection of scholarly or popular articles. Another way to refine a broad term is to add a keyword. Results too narrow? Are there synonyms you could also use?  (Combine terms with OR).
  • Use  databases and credible websites to support  research.  Substantiate your information by finding multiple sources. Find new information, discover new terms, and rethink your strategy. Remember research is a process.

 4. Follow references in a publication. If you find a chapter in a textbook on your topic, often there will be valuable references that you can mine to find additional references. This snowball method of research is one way to find relevant sources. See Bibliographic Trace tab for more information.




Keywords can be a word or phrase drawn from your sentence topic. You can expand your keywords by thinking of synonyms.

You may want to consider the plural of the words and how to format.  If you format your search like this: work*- you will  capture both the singular and plural of the words, as well as words from the roots: works, worker, working.  This is called a truncation symbol and is used in most databases. In addition, if a term is used as a phrase and you want to capture each word of the phrase in a specific order, put the phrase in quotes:  "working women"  You can also use a wildcard and tell the search interface to replace the wildcard character with any other character or characters (or sometimes no characters). For example, wom*n searches for woman, women, etc.

Generally, when you do a keyword search in a library catalog or article database, the title, subject and abstract fields are searched. These fields are called the Basic Index.

Use Boolean Strategy: AND, OR NOT

Term 1 and term 2 ( and ) Retrieves only records with both terms

  women and inheritance

Term 1 or term 2 ( or ) Maximizes results by retrieving either term

inheritance or property


Searching Databases - Boolean Searching

Boolean Search AND, OR, NOT

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Rick Block
Metadata Librarian

Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons

(206) 296-6208