A Guide Writing a Political Science Literature Review

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You may be thinking: “I need literature review help. But where do I start?” If you need a political science literature review for your project, the best place to start is with some good information about what a literature review is, what purpose it serves, and how to go about it so that the entire process is manageable, organized, and results in a quality text.

What Is a Political Science Literature Review?

A literature review is a summary and critical analysis of the literature relevant to your topic or research question. By “literature,” we are referring to published, credible books and articles related to your topic. Writing a political science literature review involves conducting research in recognized political science scholarship, summarizing the conclusions and specific questions raised by the research, and then critically assessing the sources for the most valuable applications for your topic. A good literature review also identifies gaps or omissions in the scholarship as you prepare to situate your own research among that which already exists.

Key Questions I Need to Write My Politics Literature Review

There are different types of questions that are important to address in a political science literature review. Some of these questions are not asked directly in the paper itself; for example, “What is the most recent research related to my topic?” Your literature review should answer this question, asked or not. If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to become familiar with APSA and their website for the latest in the field of political science.

Then there is the research question. The research question acts as a frame for your entire project, defining the boundaries within which you will conduct your research and draw your conclusions. When writing a political science literature review, you can select from a number of different types of research questions, the most common of which are: explanatory, descriptive, policy, political theory. The type of research question you choose will determine which kind of literature you should include in your review.

Take a Look at Great Sample Political Science Literature Review

creative sample political science literature review  political science literature review example

How to Find Good Resources for Writing a Research Paper in Political Science Literature Review

Good resources for your political science literature review are easy to find if you know where to start. While it may be tempting to start with a Google search, this approach may actually lead to results that are not focused on your exact topic and so are a waste of time. The best places to start looking for relevant literature in political science are books, articles in scholarly journals, policy journals, or research papers.

If this is still too wide a net, you might like a popular and efficient approach called the “snowball” method. This method involves starting with one credible book or article. Many students will use a textbook from a current or past class, since textbooks often cite the most influential and important sources. Find the section relevant to your topic, and then find the footnotes or endnotes and copy down the sources they reference. Then go look them up. Step two is to “mine” the sources of those references, copying down the scholarship they cite, and looking those up, too. When you start seeing the same sources cited in many texts, that is a good sign that your research is tracking the most significant thinkers on your chosen topic.

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Good Article Databases for Writing a Political Science Literature Review

Article databases are another great place to start gathering research on your topic. The top databases include in political science include:

  • Political Science Complete. This database provides full-text articles published by 500 top-ranked scholarly journals, as well as abstracts for 2,900 journals.
  • International Political Science Abstracts. IPSA is your go-to source for theory, political thinkers, administrative issues, and more. They offer about 8,000 abstracts from political science articles every year.
  • JSTOR. Although not specifically a political science database, JSTOR features full-text access to the key scholarly journals in the humanities, social sciences, sciences, and more. Because of its wide range, you’ll want to use the Advanced Search feature to limit your results by subject area.
  • ArticlesPlus. This database provides access to your library’s online content. Another wide-ranging option, this one is great if you are conducting interdisciplinary research.
  • PAIS International (Public Affairs International Service). This database provides access to nearly 2 million texts dealing with public affairs and public policy worldwide.

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Main Types of Political Science Literature Reviews

There are different kinds of literature reviews, and which one you choose will depend upon the type of research project you are planning to conduct. The four most common types are:

  • Traditional or Narrative Literature Review. This type of review summarizes and critiques a body of literature, draws conclusions about that scholarship, and identifies gaps in the knowledge. One drawback to this type of literature review is that it can lead to a large number of sources, making it difficult to draw effective conclusions. It also tends to focus on supporting your own hypothesis, which can be a problem if you need to present a balanced range of scholarship.
  • Systematic Literature Review. In this approach, you focus your literature review on published and unpublished studies in a particular subject area. It also often focuses on literature published within a particular time frame, and has a stronger emphasis on the methods used in the studies described in the literature. More rigorous and well-defined than the narrative literature review, it is not a good option for interdisciplinary work.
  • Meta-analysis. A meta-analysis is a reductive form of the systematic review, in which the findings gleaned from your literature review are analyzed using statistical procedures. This kind of review is looking for patterns and relationships between the existing literature.
  • Meta-synthesis. Unlike the meta-analysis, the meta-synthesis approach uses a non-statistical technique to integrate and evaluate qualitative research studies. The focus here is on analyzing and synthesizing key elements in order to discover new interpretations of a body of scholarship.

Strategies to Help Me Write My Literature Review

It’s time to start writing. But what does a literature review look like and how do you start it? One idea is to look at good examples of an academic literature review, political science edition. Pay attention to how the author structured their review, how they organized their research, and how they identify major themes and potential gaps. Using a political science research paper literature review example as a model can be very helpful when just getting started.

As you collect and read the relevant books and articles, take good notes. Summarize each chapter or section, listing main arguments and important conclusions. Record your thoughts as you read, including any questions the text raises. When writing a research paper in political science literature review, it’s important to gather as much preliminary material as you can before you start writing the actual paper.

Finally, don’t procrastinate. Spend time writing on a regular basis, allowing plenty of time to read and think about your topic. Quality analysis rarely happens in a time crunch, so give yourself the space to think deeply about what you want to say.

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Tips for Writing a Good Lit Review in Politics

A good literature review starts with the research question. Getting your research question right up front can really help to focus your research and help you avoid going off topic. When writing a political science literature review, it is a good idea to cast a wide enough net with your question and search terms to give yourself a robust sense of the subject – just not too wide. The more you read in your subject are, the more confident you’ll sound when you write about it. But time is always an issue, so focus on the texts that offer the biggest “bang for your buck.”

It’s important to adopt and use an organization system right from the start. When writing a literature review, you will have a lot of citations and source material to keep track of. There are a number of good options out there, including RefWorks, Mendeley, and OneNote, that will help you to organize your research; pick one and use it consistently.

Political Science Literature Review Topics

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More Potential Political Science Literature Review Topics

Below is a list of potential research topics with relevance to current events. This list is not exhaustive – there are many other topics with relevance that would make an excellent research project.

Rationality and Rational Choice Principal-Agent Theory
Systems Theory and Structural Functionalism Political Development and Modernization
Dependency and Development Resource Scarcity and Political Conflict
Civil Wars Terrorism
Electoral Systems Political Culture
Socialism in the Developing World Use this amazing opportunity to get 100% authentic paper!

How to Avoid Plagiarism in Your Political Science Literature Review

Obviously, plagiarism is one problem you do not want to have. When you are working with a lot of material from outside sources, it can be hard to keep all your references straight. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to make sure that you are citing each quotation, paraphrase, or other information taken from a source the moment you use it. One of the most efficient ways to ensure that all of your source material is properly cited is to set up your list of references first, and then add each citation as you write. Waiting to add your citations later can lead to big trouble. Also, you can go through other samples of literature reviews, such as sociology literature review, to compare with.

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What If I Need Help with Writing a Research Paper in Political Science Literature Review?

If you start feeling overwhelmed by the research, you’re not alone. The literature review is an important but difficult step in the research process. If you find you’re stuck at any part in the process, perhaps you just need a little help to move your literature review closer to the finish line. That’s where we come in. At politics literature review services, we offer everything from how-to guides, to sample political science literature reviews, to comprehensive help. No matter your discipline or project, we can offer the guidance you need to successfully complete that literature review.

Get in touch with our politics literature review writing service today and let us make your life as a student easier!