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International Studies Research Guide

International Studies

Starting your search - Keywords and Synonyms

International Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study which means that, to ensure you find a good range of sources for your topics, you may need to search for information in databases that are classified by the different disciplines such as anthropology, or sociology - or other interdisciplinary fields such as women's studies, or ethnic studies etc. Think about the different disciplines that would be interested in your topic area and search those specialist data bases. Once you have chosen a database to search, you will need to break your topic or question into keywords. Keywords are words and phrases (including names, dates, and subjects) that describe your topic. Say you are doing a research project about how women in Africa who are seeking education so we have the following keywords:

women   Africa  education

These are words are your search string. A search string is one or more keywords, linked together with AND or OR, that you will use as you search.  However, there is more than one way to express your topic. Each keyword has synonyms. It is important to make a list of as many synonyms as you can think of for each of your original keywords, so that you can make your search string as comprehensive as possible. For example, your original search string might be: women AND Africa AND education that will result in a vast amount of material, but there are a number of other words you could add that will start to limit and direct your search. These might include:

females   gender   development    opportunity   literacy   Third World 

At this point, you might also realize that you are really interested in a specific region or country - Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Kenya, Somalia or a specific type of education - basic literacy, health education, professional training. These should be added to your list of keywords. As you create more specific words (and locate/read some sources/read the reference list of other articles) you will be able to conduct more efficient and effective searches. The example below gives you a way to think about and break down a topic (in this case Facebook and public policy in China) into levels so you can see how it works.

Chicago (the preferred system of International Studies)

Chicago is a documentation style that has been published by the Chicago University Press since 1906. Typically, Chicago style presents two basic documentation systems: (1) notes and bibliography and (2) author-date.

The International Studies Program prefers the full footnote/bibliography system used by many in the humanities for most formal research projects (though check your syllabus).

The benefit of this system is that it allows the reader to immediately and directly connect your source citation in the footnote to the point/argument you are making in the text. It allows the reader to follow your research path more generally through the bibliography (you also 'get more credit' for all the material you researched because the bibliography contains all the things you consulted - not just the items you cited).

Material Type

Notes & Bibliography Format

A book in print

Note Format:  
Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (New York: Penguin, 2006), 99–100.

Format for use after first time: 
Pollan, Omnivore's Dilemma, 3. 

Bibliography format:
Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin, 2006.

An article in a print journal

Note Format:
Joshua I. Weinstein, "The Market in Plato’s Republic," Classical Philology 104 (2009): 440.

Format for use after first time:
Weinstein, "Plato’s Republic," 452–53.

Bibliography format:
Weinstein, Joshua I. "The Market in Plato’s Republic." Classical Philology 104 (2009): 439–58.

An article in an electronic journal

Note format: 
Gueorgi Kossinets and Duncan J. Watts, “Origins of Homophily in an Evolving Social Network,” American Journal of Sociology 115 (2009): 411, accessed February 28, 2010, doi:10.1086/599247.

Format for use after first time: 
Kossinets and Watts, “Origins of Homophily,” 439.

Bibliography format:
Kossinets, Gueorgi, and Duncan J. Watts. “Origins of Homophily in an Evolving Social Network.” American Journal of Sociology 115 (2009): 405–50. Accessed February 28, 2010. doi:10.1086/599247.

A website

Note format:
“Google Privacy Policy,” last modified March 11, 2009, http://www.google.com/intl/en/privacypolicy.html.

Format for use after first time:
“Google Privacy Policy.”

Bibliography format:
Google. “Google Privacy Policy.” Last modified March 11, 2009. http://www.google.com/intl/en/privacypolicy.html.

Search Terms: Example

How has Facebook impacted public policy in China?

 

CONCEPT 1

CONCEPT 2

CONCEPT 3

Facebook

public policy

China

 

SYNONYMS & RELATED TERMS

social media

censorship

PRC

Internet

freedom of speech


mass media

 


 

TERMS FROM BROAD TO NARROW

Internet

public policy

China

social media

freedom of speech

PRC

Facebook

censorship

 

 SEARCHING WITH THE TERMS


Note: polic* could return results for "police" and not just the concept of policies, so this is actually a poor use of the asterisk for truncation.

Citation Tracking - using their research to help you with yours!

Citation searching is another strategy for collecting relevant sources on your topic.

Say you have found an important, scholarly article on your topic. Before she wrote the article, the author went through a research process that was very similar to the one you are going through right now. She found a number of good articles on her topic, and then she created a Bibliography or References list so it is now like a trail of breadcrumbs that you can follow back to other, important scholarly articles on your topic. Always look at the sources in the the citations and the reference list  at the end of each article you find, to see if any of the listed sources might be useful!

Related Guides

Many topics in your area of study are interdisciplinary. In order to create a comprehensive literature review, you may want to search for information in other HSU Research Guides:

Online Tutorials and Videos