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Political Science

Finding Background Info

Not sure where to start your research? Curious to know about your subject a bit more? Looking to find some background knowledge on your subject beyond Wikipedia. Using subject-specific encyclopedias and handbooks provide easy access to authoritative facts, definitions, and concepts used in political science.

  • What kind of source is an encyclopedia? Is it considered “scholarly”? 
    • An encyclopedia is reference material and a tertiary source. A tertiary source is a distillation and collection of primary and secondary sources, and a good place to get an overview of a subject. Encyclopedias are considered a scholarly source. The content is written by an academic for an academic audience.  While entries are reviewed by an editorial board, they are not “peer-reviewed”. 
  • What is a handbook? A handbook is a topically organized book of reference on a certain field of knowledge.
  • Is Wikipedia a reliable source for research?