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INR 675 - Quantitative Methods: Home

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Search Strategies

For this paper you will look at your data set and identify a research question based on a variable (or variables) that interests you. An important part of your research is finding other scholars' perspectives on this issue. This is important because:

  • As a student of international relations, you can see how other scholars formulate hypotheses and use data to test them.
  • Reading high quality, peer reviewed literature related to your question can help you identify areas of consensus, controversy, and further study.
  • Noting the other research in the field as you make your argument signals to other scholars that you've done your research and are qualified to enter the scholarly conversation.  

There are many ways to start looking for this research. If you're having trouble finding literature on your topic, here are some ideas to try:

  • Formulate a specific research question, for example, "How are outcomes such as income per capita and socio-economic equality affected by political regime type?"
  • Try your search in a search tool such as EBSCO, JSTOR, or Google Scholar.
  • Identify the most significant phrases to type in the search box, such as "income per capita," "socio-economic equality" and "political regime type"
  • When the results come back, look not only for articles that seem like they might be related to your question, but also pay attention to the way other scholars are looking at the question and what kinds of words they're using. They may be using different terminology to describe your concepts, or they may be looking at the issue more narrowly or more broadly. For example, they might specify specific types of political regimes, or be looking at specific economic groups.  
  • In EBSCO, also pay attention to subject headings in the article record (which comes up after you click on the title in your list of results). Clicking on these will redo your search to show you other articles on your topic, and you can add additional words to further hone your results. 


Google Scholar and Google Citation Index

Google Scholar includes an ocean of scholarly information, some of it peer reviewed and some of it not. Google Scholar indexes material from scholarly publishers' websites, university websites,, depositories, and other sources. This means that you will find academic articles from published and open access sources, undergraduate and master's theses, article preprints (sometimes before the peer-review process has been completed), book chapters, and other material that Google considers scholarly.

Because of this, it's important to examine materials you find for their scholarly value. 

  • Is it written by an expert in the field? Is the author a faculty member at an institution of higher education? Are they teaching in the field they're writing about? If not, what qualifies them to write about the topic?
  • Is it peer reviewed? Google the journal title and check the journal's website for it's publication guidelines to identify whether the journal is peer reviewed. Because of the rise of predatory publishing, it's also important to check your Google results for evidence of scholars discussing whether the journal title is a predatory publication. You might also find that a predatory journal has a slightly different, but very similar title to a respected publication.   
  • How well respected is the publication? One measure of respect or scholarly impact is the number of citations a journal has-- or how often other scholars cite its articles. You can check a journal's impact in Google Scholar Citation Index.


Connecting Salve's library to Google Scholar

When you're doing research in Google Scholar, you'll want to tell Google that you're affiliated with Salve Regina so it can connect you directly through to the full text of articles we subscribe to. This also works if you're looking for specific articles listed in your professor's syllabus.

1. Sign into your Google account

2. Go to Google Scholar Preferences:

3. Select “library links,” enter “Salve Regina” check “Salve Regina University Library – Find @ Salve,” and click Save.





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