Western Libraries

Political Science 3366

A guide for POL 3366 - POL 3366 International Conflict Management

Pol 3366: International Conflict Management

CRAAP Test video tutorial

Selected Resources for more information on writing annotations:

  • Charlton, Lucille. Thomson Nelson guide to research and writing in political science. Toronto: Thomson Nelson, c2006, pp.82-86.

          Call # JA86.C43 2006

Resources for International Conflict Management - POL 3366E


The Research Process

Scholarly Resources

Databases for 3366E

Grey Literature

Web-based Resources (HANDLE WITH CARE!)

How to Get Help

Use this guide to help you get started with your research.

The guide is designed to assist you with your research for POL 3366E.

If you require additional assistance, contact Western Libraries.

The Research Process

This is a six step process (adapted from the Cornell University Olin & Uris Libraries) that will assist you as you undertake research for your research assignments.

Step 1: Find & develop your topic.

First and foremost, find an issue that interests you. Develop your question, or thesis statement. For some tips on writing a good thesis statement, check HERE.

Identify the key concepts and keywords for your question. Brainstorm and create a list of synonyms of the concepts. There are many resources that will help you find synonyms. See, for example, Sara Knapp's Contemporary Thesaurus of Search Terms and Synonyms: A Guide for Natural Language Computer Searching.


Step 2: Determine what you already know.

Incorporate your existing knowledge with what you have learned in class and from the class readings to date. Lecture notes, textbooks and readings will inform your efforts. You will have identified themes, concepts, people and events that may be important to your question. This process will help you to determine the best places to start your search.


Step 3: Find background information.

Take the keywords and concepts you identified in the first step and and look them up in the indexes and table of contents of the Subject Encyclopedias that are available Online and in print in the D.B. Weldon Reference collection. Please refer to the Research Guides pages for Political Science under the Encyclopedia tab for excellent background resources.

Read articles in the subject encyclopedias to develop an understanding of the context for your research. Pay particular attention to relevant items in the bibliographies at the end of the encyclopedia articles.


Here are some excellent background resources. The PRINT titles are available in the Weldon Reference Collection:

International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences
DBW Reference H41.I58 2008 v.1 - v.9

Encyclopedia of the stateless nations : ethnic and national groups around the world
DBW Reference D860.M56 2016 v.1 - v.4

Encyclopedia of conflicts since World War II
DBW Stack D842.2.E53 2007 

ELECTRONIC Reference titles are available through the Library Catalogue (Licensed to Western Users Only)

Oxford Reference Online Premium
Provides access to: A Dictionary of Political Biography, The Oxford Companion to the Politics of the World, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. An excellent place to find basic information on important people, places, events and concepts that will inform your research.

Europa World Plus
This work features statistical, political, and historical information on countries around the world. Licensed to Western users only.

Step 4: Finding Scholarly sources.

(See, below for a detailed discussion of scholarly sources.)

  1. Catalogue for Books
  2. Databases for Articles


Scholarly Sources: Catalogue for Books

In the Shared Library Catalogue http://www.lib.uwo.ca/search you will find electronic and print books owned by Western Libraries.
In the Catalogue you can search by:

• Author
• Title
• Keyword
• Subject

The Keyword Search option is the best place to start your search, unless you know a specific author’s name or a title of a work.

Think through the concepts in your search topic before you begin work at the computer.

Before you start looking in the catalogue, break your topic into keywords and phrases:

Hypothetical topic: The effect of international mediation efforts on the conflict in Yugoslavia has been to generate short-term solutions.

Keywords/concepts: Conflict, Mediation, International, Effect, Yugoslavia

Look for synonyms (and antonyms) for your each of your keyword/concepts:

Concept 1 examples Concept 2 examples Concept 3 examples
  • Conflict
  • dissent
  • civil disorder
  • confrontation
  • mediation
  • conflict resolution
  • conciliation
  • mediator
  • negotiation
  • Yugoslavia
  • Balkan States
  • Eastern Europe
  • Bosnia Herzegovina
  • Serbia

Combine the synonyms with “OR” in the search box to broaden your search:

  • e.g., (mediation OR conflict resolution OR conciliation OR mediator OR negotiation)

Combine the different concepts (keywords and phrases) with “AND” to narrow your search:

  • e.g., (Yugoslavia OR Balkan States OR Eastern Europe OR Bosnia Herzegovina) AND (mediation OR conflict resolution OR conciliation OR mediator OR negotiation)

Use the Truncation symbol (*) to get different endings and plurals of words (up to five additional letters for most databases or catalogues):

  • mediat* will search for: mediate, mediates, mediator, mediating
  • Democra* will search for: democratic, democratize (note: democratization (with seven letters following democrat, would require two **)
  • Canad* will search for : Canada, Canadian, Canadians

Use the Wildcard Symbol (?) to look for variations in spelling:

  • globali?ation = globalization or globalisation

Refine your search:

  • Once you have located authors and studies, look at the keywords and subject terms they use. (This is particularly useful when looking at background resources.) Use those words and terms to refine your search.
  • Examine the books and articles (dig deeper in bibliographies and references) that were used by “high quality” authors to make their arguments. Search for additional works by the authors you regard as substantial.
  • Look at the Subject Headings of our results to refine your search. You will be using the controlled vocabulary, the language of the catalogue.

Revise, revise, and revise again! Stop and reconsider the terms you are using in your searching. The language for a subject/discipline, for example, may have changed over time.

Databases for Articles

The Databases that support your research can be found under the Database Tab on the Program Guides pages for Political Science - Canada or Political Science - International. You can also find the Databases in the alphabetized Databases by Title list

Before you start looking in the databases, break your topic into keywords, terms or phrases. Write them down and combine them on paper.

If you need help brainstorming for terms, use a thesaurus specifically designed for the database.  ProQuest Political Science & Public Administration, an important database for your research, has a thesaurus that will help you identify subject terms, etc. (You will find the thesaurus under the Search Tools Tab of the Database.)

If you are not using a database such as Scholars Portal Search, and there is no available thesaurus, try resources like Sara Knapp's Contemporary Thesaurus of Search Terms and Synonyms: A Guide for Natural Language Computer Searching. This will supply you with many ideas for search terms.


The default search field for a database typically is “Anywhere.” If you are getting too many results from your search you should restrict the field within which you are searching. Try searching in Keywords or Abstract or Descriptor(subject heading) to reduce the results and increase the relevance of the results you get. Note: Descriptors or Subject Headings are controlled vocabulary and the terms you use must match exactly with the subject headings applied to the information.

You can sort your results by Relevance, or Date. [Note: Currency (the date published) is an important factor for your Bibliography assignment.]

When you have selected appropriate resources for your research print or save the results or, send the results to a citation management tool, a resource that will help you manage your citations.


Refine your search:

When you have located relevant resources look at the keywords and subject terms that are used. Use those terms to further refine your search.
Examine the results (dig deeper in the bibliographies and reference lists) that were used by “high quality” authors to make their arguments.
Examine additional works by the authors you regard as substantial.

Look at the Subject Headings of our results to refine your searches.

Revise, revise, and revise again. Stop and reconsider the terms you are using in your searching. The language for a subject/discipline, for example, may have changed over time.


Step 5: Incorporate new knowledge

It is essential that you critically evaluate the information you have found. There are a number of critical questions that you should ask when you consider the appropriateness of a book, article, or web site for your research. Is the information current, accurate, authoritative, objective, is the subject area covered relevant?

To help you undertake this evaluation please refer to the Guide: How Do I Evaluate Information Resources. [This step is and absolutely essential step in your research for the Bibliography Assignment and your subsequent research and writing for your essay.]


Step 6: Acknowledge your sources

The final, but most important step in the research process… And the final component of your Bibliography Assignment.

No matter what you do (take an idea or borrow an example), you cannot fail to acknowledge another persons work.

For POL 3391F you must format citations in your bibliography and in your research paper using the style required by Professor Narain.

Guide for Chicago Style can be found here: Chicago

MLA (Modern languages Association) Guide can be found here: MLA


Bibliographic management tools such as Mendeley, Zotero and Procite are available to help you organize your research and then use it to print you list of citations.



Some final thoughts on the research process:

Before you start your research keep these three overarching ideas in mind:

1.) Work from the general to the specific.

First locate the background information, then use more specific and recent sources.

2. ) Record what you discovered and where you discovered it.

Databases and catalogues let you email, print your citations or you can send the references to bibliographic management tools like Mendeley, Zotero and Procite. If you do not know how to do this make sure you write out a complete citation for each source you find; you may need to refer to it again in the future. If you need help with citations, please get in touch with Reference Staff or refer to the Style Guides located here.

3.) Translate the concepts for your topic into the language used by the catalogue or the database (subject headings, descriptors).

Check your topic words/concepts against a thesaurus or subject heading list in the database or catalogue. This will let you increase the relevance of the results you get with your search.


Scholarly Sources

To succeed in your course assignments you must identify and use scholarly resources.

What counts as a ‘scholarly’ resource?

  • essays / chapters published in edited books (works of criticism) written by academics
  • articles published in academic journals and/or peer-reviewed publications

A Scholarly book or article is typically based on original research.

The author is usually an expert in the field and is affiliated with a University.

The author will cite their sources with footnotes and bibliographies.

While charts and tables are a feature that is sometimes found in scholarly works, glossy pictures are not.

Scholarly resources are published by academic presses and are subject to a peer-review process. The peer review process involves "experts" (other scholars) evaluating the research prior to publication.

Here is a a link to a very useful table that will help you distinguish scholarly journals from popular journals, trade publications and general interest publications.



Databases for POL 3366E

Important Reminder: To use most of the electronic resources when you are working from home you must remember to log onto Off-Campus Access. This log-in is always available on the top left side of the page.

There are several excellent resources for finding scholarly and other resources for your annotated bibliography and your research paper. You can access these resources from either the Database tab on the Program Guides pages for Political Science - International or Databases by Title.

The  ProQuest Political Science & Public Administration  database is an excellent place to begin your search for scholarly articles. Within ProQuest Political Science you can search several databases simultaneously covering issues pertaining to International Conflict Management: World Wide Political Science Abstracts, PAIS and, the International Bibliography of the Social Science. The database also searches EconLit, the primary database for the study of issues in Economics. This might be helpful if you are looking at issues with an economic component.

The database allows you to search in many places for information: keywords, titles, authors, abstracts, descriptors (also known as subject headings). The default location for your search will be "Anywhere." Searching the "anywhere" field will probably result in getting too many results and especially, results that are not relevant. Search in Keywords or Abstract or Descriptor to refine your search and increase relevance of your results. Descriptor (or subject heading) searches are controlled vocabulary searches and the terms you use must match exactly with the subject headings applied to the information.

Additional Databases:

There are many other resources that will be useful for your research.

International Political Science Abstracts

This database provides access to political science articles that are published in scholarly journals and yearbooks from around the world. International relations, political thinkers and ideas; institutions; political processes; and national and area studies are covered here.

CIAO - Columbia International Affairs Online

With coverage from 1991 to the present, CIAO (Columbia International Affairs Online) is a very useful resource for theory and research in international affairs. In addition to journals and policy briefs, CIAO provides access to conference proceedings, working papers and, Non-Governmental Organization papers.

Alt-Press Watch

This is a full text database of the newspapers, magazines and journals of the alternative and independent press. This interdisciplinary resource provides a valuable source of viewpoints and perspectives to complement and challenge the coverage of the mainstream media.

Please note that just because an article came from a Library database does not mean it is necessarily a scholarly resource, and therefore, it might not satisfy the requirements for your assignments.

(PLEASE refer to the section on Scholarly Resources to find tools for evaluating resources.)

Grey Literature

Grey Literature can be challenging to find. It includes literature like government documents, technical reports, dissertations & theses, conference proceedings, working papers, policy briefs, and research reports that are not produced by commercial publishers.

Library Databases for Finding Grey Literature:

CIAO - Columbia International Affairs Online Journals

Canadian Public Policy Collection

PAIS International

OECD iLibrary


Dissertations & Theses

Internet Search Engines

Use the site limiter in Google to target your search to specific government, educational, and organization sites.                                For example: site: .gc.ca ;  site: .org ;  site: .edu    followed by your search terms.

Inter-Governmental Organizations

Inter-Governmental Organizations Custom Search

Think Tanks

Harvard Think Tank Search

Research Institutes and Gateways


International Development Research Centre (IRDC)


There are many web-based resources that will support your research. Some, from think tanks, research institutes and government agencies are of the highest quality. Some resources are highly suspect.

Please note: it is essential that you thoroughly evaluate the resources that you use. You must consider authority, objectivity, currency, depth and breadth of coverage. Please refer to: How Do I Evaluate Information Resources before using a resource from the Web. The following links provide access to information that may be of value to your research. Do not, however, assume that their presence on this page necessarily means they have all been thoroughly evaluated.


The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a private, nonprofit Think Tank dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active international engagement by the United States. You can search the site for publications by Topic, Author, Project, Date and Type of Publication.

IPSAportal, an official publication of the International Political Science Association, provides information on hundreds of outstanding websites for Political Science.

This site offers links to important websites for the study of International Political Science issues.

  1. Diplomacy Monitor

Increasingly nations are launching public diplomacy campaigns on the Internet, with the goal of shaping public opinion and responding quickly to current issues and events. Monitoring the hundreds of government web sites and centralizing this information, the St. Thomas University School of Law offers an international spectrum of communiqués, transcripts, briefing papers, news releases and other diplomatic documents. Official English translations or computerized translations are provided where needed.

Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology and Policy

Chartered in 1988, ISCIP focuses on transitional societies in crisis, especially Russia and other post-Soviet states, paying particular attention to destabilizing factors of a political, ethnic, and/or international nature.

This site provides a forum for publication and distribution of research and discussion relating to social, economic, and political issues.