Research Sources for Students
Research Sources on Comparative and International Politics, focused on Asia
All Politics students should develop strong skills in acquiring high-quality information from the great range of sources that are out there. This is a crucial ability for you to have and that you can use in your academic work, your internships, future jobs, etc. With undergraduate students particularly in mind, I have compiled the following list of valuable sources of material on comparative and international politics, with a special focus on Asia.
To search for books, use the following resources:
- UCSC Library: simply start at the library site and search CruzCat or Melvyl.
- The Library of Congress
- Google Books: Use this rather than a regular Google web search. See also Google Scholar below, which also will find some books among its results.
- Harvard University’s library system: Search Hollis or Hollis Classic.
- Amazon.com: As you may know, in addition to new books it also sells cheaper digital editions (either for Kindle readers or for free Kindle apps on Mac/PC) and is a broker for used books. You wouldn’t necessarily want or need to buy books for a student paper but it could be worthwhile if a book were extraordinarily relevant but not available in a library.
- AbeBooks: Particularly good site for buying used copies of books.
Think Tanks and Policy Journals
- China Leadership Monitor: This free, online publication features in-depth and well-documented reports by experts, including work on China’s international relations and China-Taiwan relations in particular.
- The Congressional Research Service is not a think-tank but the reports it produces are generally excellent, so be sure to search it on just about any topic you are researching. See below under “United States Government.”
- International Crisis Group is an outfit that produces detailed, careful, and well-documented reports — not on every topic in international affairs, but on things that relate to conflict in some way. You can search by county/region. Their “reports” are the in-depth write-ups; their “briefings” (etc.) are shorter and less substantive.
- The Washington Quarterly: An international affairs journal from CSIS (see below) with articles that have a certain depth to them and also include footnotes.
- Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS): This think-tank publishes the Washington Quarterly (see above) but also has many other materials on its web site. It also produces PacNet Newsletter; this contains short pieces, but they may be stimulating.
- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Respected think-tank with a searchable web site; has various reports and publications.
- Foreign Policy: This well established publication has both a magazine and a lot of web-only content, blogs, etc.
- Foreign Affairs: Published by the venerable Council on Foreign Relations, this magazine pretty much defines “The Establishment.” Despite its august reputation, the articles can be a bit shallow and are not documented, but sometimes they provide an important introduction or perspective. Note that the FA web site has its own content; the magazine is distinct and to get full-text access you will probably have to go through your home institution’s library web site.
- Current History: Contains articles that are roughly six pages long giving an overview of the state of play on some issue, topic, or problem. At their best they can be wonderfully illuminating.
- National Bureau of Asian Research: Valuable source for mainstream policy-related research.
- RAND Corporation: Non-profit organization and think tank that conducts research for many clients including the U.S. government.
- The World Bank: “The Bank” amasses large quantities of reports and data in various formats. I always find the site difficult to search in a comprehensive way, but dive in, you might just come upon something that directly speaks to your topic. The World Bank’s World Development Reports provide a huge amount of information.
- Yale Global: This site publishes fairly short but often useful pieces on various topics.
- The Wilson Quarterly: A publication of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, this journal is not limited to international affairs but has some valuable items.
Note: You can usually search these publications via their web sites, but to get full-text access you will likely have to go through a library website, like UCSC’s online journal collection.
- Journal of Democracy: This highly readable journal reaches for audiences well beyond academic ones with articles on politics in countries around the world
- China Quarterly
- China Journal
- World Politics
- Studies in Comparative International Development
- International Security
- International Organization
- Inside Indonesia
- World Development
- Latin American Politics and Society
In using journalism sources for writing papers, the trick usually is to find in-depth, “long-form” reporting that really explains an issue and provides insight. It takes real work to sift through the enormous amount of material out there to find such quality sources. Shorter, garden-variety articles about a news event that just took place can be of use, but a grab bag of such “day stories” does not make for a good paper.
- Asia Times Online
- The Diplomat
- The Atlantic
- The New York Times (and its Sunday magazine)
- The Washington Post
- The Wall Street Journal
- The Economist
- The New Yorker
United States Government
- The Congressional Research Service produces high-quality and authoritative reports that include footnotes to sources. The official CRS web site does not make these reports available for the outside world, but Open CRS and the Federation of American Scientists have repositories.
- Government Printing Office: The congressional hearing search function can be found under their Federal Digital System feature. Hearings are organized by year. Provides access to congressional hearings from the 99th congress (1985-1986) and onward.
- Library of Congress / Thomas: The congressional hearing search function can be found under the section “Congressional Record.” It allows users to search by keyword, members of congress involved, and date.
- Congress: Can search by bill. Results include a summary, the actual text of the bill or resolution, titles, cosponsors, amendments, committees, and related bills.
- You should not quote Wikipedia material in papers you submit to class (though if you do, be sure to cite it), but it never hurts to see what source materials are referenced in a Wikipedia entry. It might link to high-quality articles, books, etc.