Constructing States, Nations and Democracy


"Women wait to vote in Egypt's constitutional referendum outside of a polling station in Giza, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012." Yuli Weeks for VOA. Via Wikimedia Commons.

This page highlights key resources for conducting effective research for Problems in Constructing States, Nations and Democracy.

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.

If you need assistance organizing, analyzing, or visualizing data sets, please visit the Empirical Research Center (ERC).

Sheri Berman

Personal Librarian 
Jennie Correia
Social Sciences Librarian
103 LeFrak Center, Barnard Hall

Background Information
Journal Articles/Databases
Policy Institutes/Think Tanks
Newspapers & Magazines
Data & Stats
Government Information
Writing & Citing
Student Publishing Opportunities

Finding Background Information

Consult scholarly reference sources and annual reviews to get an overview of a topic, an introduction to a theory, definitions to discipline-specific terms, and more.

Finding Books - Catalogs

CLIO is the online catalog of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and some information from the Law Library. Search the Catalog for book and media materials.

Catalog search tips:

If you know exactly what book (journal, video, etc.) you are looking for, you can search by Title, Author, ISBN, etc.

To find items about a specific topic, first try a keyword search in All Fields.

  • Use "quotation marks" to search for an exact phrase: "nation building".

  • Use * for truncation (to find variant spellings and endings of a word): wom*n will find woman, women, womyn; activis* will find activism, activist, activists, etc.

  • For more complex search, use AND and OR:

    • AND finds records which have all the search terms you entered.

    • OR finds records which have one of the search terms you entered, as well as records which have more than one of the terms. OR finds MORE.

    • For more help with using AND and OR, check our guide to advanced/Boolean keyword searching.

  • Use parentheses to group terms:  "nation building" AND (wom*n OR gender)

Subject headings: If you find a book that's relevant, look at its subject headings in CLIO and click through to find more related works.

Find books and other materials in other libraries:

Finding Journal Articles/Databases

There are hundreds of databases available through CLIO. You can use the Articles section in CLIO to search multiple databases simultaneously, including many listed below.

For off-campus access to library online resources, remember to follow the links from CLIO or this research guide. You can also use the proxy bookmarklet.

Database search tips:

  • The general search tips for CLIO also apply to the article databases.
  • If you find an article or a book that is relevant, the bibliography/works cited page can be a useful road map to other relevant literature that was previously published.  
  • If you find an article or a book that is relevant, you can use Google Scholar and some other databases to find out whether it was cited by other scholars after it was published. Search for the title of an article/monograph and search and click on "Cited by" to generate a list of publications that have referenced that source.
  • In most databases, you can narrow your results to scholarly publications only. Look for "limit to ... scholarly publications/peer-reviewed/refereed publications only" or similar language. This will help you find articles from journals that have gone through a rigorous peer review process.  

Recommended Scholarly Databases:

  • GenderWatch includes full text from contemporary scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, regional publications, books, booklets and pamphlets, conference proceedings, and government, NGO and special reports.
  • International Political Science Abstracts (IPSA) provides citations and abstracts for political science journal articles and yearbooks, including literature in the field of international affairs.
  • JSTOR provides the full text of back issues from core scholarly journals in political science and other fields in the humanities and social sciences from the earliest issues to within a few years of current publication. Please note that, generally, this database does not include issues published in the last few years. You can search just the political science journals in JSTOR by using the Advanced Search "NARROW BY DISCIPLINE AND/OR JOURNAL" feature.
  • PAIS Index features public affairs research, including references to journal articles, books, government documents, statistical sources, research reports, conference proceedings, and publications of international agencies.
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts contains abstracts of books, scholarly journal articles, and major news magazine articles covering North American and international politics.

Related Scholarly Journals:

Finding Policy Institutes/Think Tanks

    Some databases provide access to think tank, NGO, and policy institute publications: 

    • CIAO (Columbia International Affairs Online) provides working papers, research reports, policy briefs and more from university research institutes, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and foundations. This is a good place to look for analysis of recent events and current situations.
    • Contemporary Women's Issues provides full text access to information about women in over 190 countries, including journal and magazine articles, research reports, and fact sheets.
    • GenderWatch includes full text from contemporary scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, regional publications, books, booklets and pamphlets, conference proceedings, and government, NGO and special reports.

    Here are some recommended institutes, organizations, and research projects to explore: 

    Like all sources you encounter, be sure to evaluate the relevance, quality, and perspective of works put out by think tanks and research institutes. More information on evaluating think tanks:

    • Evaluating Resources from the University of California Berkeley clearly presents key questions you want to ask of your sources: 
      • "Authority - Who is the author? What is their point of view? 
      • Purpose - Why was the source created? Who is the intended audience?
      • Publication & format - Where was it published? In what medium?
      • Relevance - How is it relevant to your research? What is its scope?
      • Date of publication - When was it written? Has it been updated?
      • Documentation - Did they cite their sources? Who did they cite?"
    • Writing about think tanks and using their research: A cautionary tip sheet: This is written for journalists, but it's questions and tips are also helpful for student researchers. 
    • On Think Tanks has a series of articles on Understanding Think Tanks.
    • Think Tank Search from Harvard Kennedy School is a custom Google search of over 690 think tank websites. "For the purposes of this search, think tanks are defined as institutions affiliated with universities, governments, advocacy groups, foundations, non-governmental organizations, and businesses that generate public policy research, analysis, and activity. Inclusion is based upon the relevancy of subject area to HKS coursework and scholarship, the availability of the think tank’s research in full-text on the website, and the think tank’s reputation and influence upon policy making. The list represents a mixture of partisan and non-partisan think tanks."
    • The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania conducts research on the relationship between think tanks, politics, and public policy and produces the annual Global Go To Think Tank Index.

    Finding Newspapers and Magazines

    For current/recent events analysis, consult news sources such as the following. Note that we often have access to newspapers, magazines, and journals through database platform rather than through the publication's website. Access varies by date. If you have trouble finding the full-text free online, contact a librarian for help

    Additional news sources can be found in various databases:

    • posts over 700 stories daily in English and French and offers a diversity of multi-lingual streaming programming as well as a 400,000-article searchable archive (which includes the archive of Africa News Service dating from 1997). Fully accessible ONLY on campus.
    • Alt-Press Watch provides full text articles from over 210 alternative and press publications, including newspapers, magazines and journals.
    • Ethnic newsWatch provides full text articles from newspapers and periodicals published by the ethnic, minority and native press in the U.S. back to 1960.
    • Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports provides full text translations of newspaper articles, radio and television broadcasts, non-classified technical reports, conference proceedings, and local media sources from around the world. This database covers 1941-1996; coverage from 1996 to the present is available in World News Connection, described below.
    • LexisNexis Academic contains access to hundreds of information sources including the full text of newspapers, magazines, wire services, newsletters, journals, and broadcast transcripts from around the world.
    • offers a daily email newsletter of concise, translated briefs covering some of the key political, cultural, economic and opinion pieces appearing via the print, radio and television media of the 22 Arab countries, Iran and the Arab Diaspora.
    • ProQuest Newspapers has articles from U.S. national newspapers, international English-language newspapers, and selected regional/state newspapers. Chronological coverage of individual newspapers varies. 
    • World News Connection is the continuation of FBIS Daily Reports, above. It provides full text translations of newspaper articles, radio and television broadcasts, non-classified technical reports, conference proceedings, and local media sources from around the world. This database covers 1996 to 2013; coverage from 1941 to 1996 is available in Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports, described above.

    Other news tips:

    Finding Data and Statistical Sources

    • CountryWatch provides comprehensive and up-to-date political, economic, cultural, business, and environmental information. Country Wire provides daily country-specific news.
    • EUI (Economist Intelligence Unit) provides country reports with various economic data, statistics, news, and analysis.
    • International Monetary Fund (IMF) Data and Statistics includes a range of data on IMF lending over time, historical exchange rates, and other economic and financial information.
    • OECD iLibrary is a portal for the online publications of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). You can generate data and statistical reports for OECD member countries on a wide range of topics including agriculture, development, economics, education, energy, environment, governance, health migration, science & technology, transportation, and more.
    • UNdata includes current and historical statistical data for countries from around the world covering a wide range of economic and socio-demographic topics.
    • Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) database contains over 18 million data points. As of April 2017, the dataset covers 177 countries from 1900 to 2016 with annual updates to follow. 
    • World Bank DataBank provides access to many World Bank data sets, including World Development Indicators (WDI). WDI contains cross-country comparable statistics about debt, development, economics, education, gender equity, health, and more.

    Finding Government Information 

    • Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports are reports to members of Congress on a variety of topics relevant to current political events. 

    • Digital National Security Archive includes more than 80,000 of the most important declassified documents regarding critical US policy decisions.

    • HeinOnline provides a wide variety of official U.S. and foreign government publications, including constitutions, treaties, and international agreements.

    • ProQuest Congressional tracks information and publications produced by the United States Congress from 1789 to the present, including legislative histories and testimony from congressional hearings.

    • UN Treaty Collection provides access to over 50,000 full text bilateral and multilateral treaties.

    • United States Agency for International Development (USAID) - official website. 

    • US Declassified Documents Online (USDDO) provides access to previously classified US government documents, particularly from the executive branch. The majority of the documents are presidential records. You can also find records from the Department of State, Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other executive agencies. Materials include intelligence studies, policy papers, diplomatic correspondence, cabinet meeting minutes, briefing materials, and domestic surveillance and military reports. NOTE: This resource was previously called Declassified Documents Reference System (DDRS).
    • US Department of State Advancing Freedom and Democracy Report "describes efforts by the U.S. Government to support democracy and human rights in nondemocratic countries and countries undergoing democratic transitions worldwide". 

    Writing and Citing

    • Barnard guides to citation management provides information about citation practices, style guides, and software programs you can use that help you keep track of your sources and create bibliographies.
    • Cite Source presents information about how to cite various sources in a visual way, and they offer guidance on citing tricky source like government agency reports, House and Senate committee debates and hearings, and other. Check out the source help for APAAPSA, Chicago, and MLA styles.​
    • The Craft of Research is an online book that can help guide you through the full research process.

    • Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) has lots of general and subject-specific writing tips and techniques, along with research advice and detailed citation and formatting standards for the APA, Chicago, and MLA styles.

    Student Publishing Opportunities

    Academic Commons

    Academic Commons is Columbia University's digital repository where faculty, students, and staff of Columbia and its affiliate institutions can deposit the results of their scholarly work and research. Content in Academic Commons is freely available to the public. To deposit your research, please use the self-deposit form.

    Undergraduate Journals

    • Cornell International Affairs Review (Cornell University)
      The Cornell International Affairs Review (CIAR) is a bi-annual, student-run journal that publishes academic papers from undergraduate students, post-graduate students, experts, and professors in a wide range of fields with a focus on contemporary issues in the international arena.
    • Columbia University Journal of Politics and Society (Columbia University)
      The Helvidius Group is a student organization at Columbia University, established in 1989 by Peter Tomassi, CC ’91, to provide a forum for undergraduate discourse on issues concerning law and public policy. The Journal of Politics & Society is the realization of that mission. Originally an annual magazine distributed to Ivy League universities and to members of Congress, it has adopted a more scholarly focus and has grown to encompass all of the social sciences. The Journal is not affiliated with or sponsored by any political organization, and it remains staunchly nonpartisan.
    • Critical Theory and Social Justice Journal of Undergraduate Research (Occidental College)
      CTSJ is dedicated to providing a forum for undergraduate students to develop and share critical research and writing on the intersections of "race", "sexuality", and "nationality" as they relate to problems of social justice. The journal seeks to foster exchange of ideas across disciplines and deepen understandings of systems of injustice, and in this way advances the mission of Occidental College: to develop critical, thoughtful, and active participation in an increasingly pluralistic and conflict ridden global culture.
    • Critique: A Worldwide Student Journal of Politics (Illinois State University)
      Critique is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes scholarship by students of political science. The journal, which is recognized by American Political Science Association (APSA), accepts submissions from all the subfields of political science. The articles submitted to Critique undergo a rigorous peer-review process. The journal provides a forum for graduate and undergraduate students of political science to express and exchange diverse ideas and to imagine new possibilities for democracy and justice. They welcome the work of emerging scholars on cutting-edge topics. The editors firmly believe that budding scholars introduce valuable ideas that must be heard in order to understand the nature of political institutions, behavior, and the global community. Thus, they encourage articles about politics that take seriously the growing opportunities for social change and new possibilities for enacting policy locally, nationally, and internationally.​
    • The Dialectics: Journal of Law, Leadership, and Society (Pennsylvania State University – Abington)
      The Dialectics: Journal of Law, Leadership, and Society is a refereed, multidisciplinary electronic publication. The Journal’s aim is to promote undergraduate scholarship and to encourage students to pursue and engage in thoughtful discourses on topics of societal importance. To date, The Dialectics has published the works of 63 authors, representing 30 universities in the United States and abroad.
    • Eleven (University of California, Berkeley)
      Eleven: The Undergraduate Journal of Sociology publishes excellent sociological papers written by current and recent UC Berkeley undergraduates, as well as undergraduates from across the nation and countries such as Canada and Norway. A student-run publication, the journal provides an academic forum that highlights outstanding scholarship in the social sciences. In the spirit of Marx’s Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach that mandates one to engender constructive change, the journal offers opportunities for an intellectual space that encourages critical engagement with the world.
    • Inquiries (Jamaica Plain, MA)
      Inquiries Journal, formerly Student Pulse, is an open-access academic journal that highlights the work of students at the undergraduate level and above. The journal publishes work across a range of academic disciplines with a particular focus on the social sciences, arts, and humanities.
    • International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (Pacific University and Central Washington University)
      International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities is a peer-reviewed, open access journal dedicated to the publication of outstanding scholarship by undergraduates and their mentors from academic institutions of higher learning. The Journal accepts submissions of research articles, fiction, poetry, photography, videos, and other creative works from undergraduate students in all academic disciplines. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis and will be published on the Journal website after successful review.
    • Journal of Integrated Social Sciences (California Lutheran University)
      Journal of Integrated Social Sciences is a web-based, peer-reviewed journal committed to the scholarly investigation of social phenomena. We especially encourage students and their faculty advisors to submit the results of their investigations. NOTE: As of November 11, 2016, they are NOT currently accepting submissions from the field of political science.
    • Journal of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Excellence (Colorado State University)
      JUR publishes extraordinary undergraduate work in an easily accessible and professional peer-reviewed journal. Our mission is to print outstanding undergraduate research, scholarly articles, and creative works in order to make them available to the public and connect the worldwide community of college undergraduates.
    • On Our Terms (Barnard College)
      On Our Terms is an online, peer-reviewed, academic journal of women and leadership. Produced under the auspices of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, this publication features scholarship by undergraduates from across the globe seeking to enhance our generation’s discourse on the theme. We are a journal created for students, by students, and our goal is to provide a platform for student thought, debate, and voice through the publication of original academic articles and multimedia pieces.
    • Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Journal of Politics (Oakland University)
      The Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Journal of Politics was founded in the spring of 2001 by the Delta Omega Chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha at Purdue University, under the name The American Undergraduate Journal of Politics and Government.  With the sponsorship of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, the name of the Journal was changed to The Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Journal of Politics beginning with the Fall 2004 issue. From July 2007 until July 2010 the Journal was based at the Zeta Upsilon Chapter at Union College, and in August 2010 moved to the Eta Rho Chapter at the College of William & Mary. In August 2013, the Nu Omega Chapter at Oakland University began hosting the Journal for a three year term.
    • Pittsburgh Undergraduate Review (University of Pittsburgh)
      The purpose of the Pittsburgh Undergraduate Review is to advance independent undergraduate scholarship. The PUR aims to bring research to the forefront of undergraduate awareness. By presenting provocative ideas, the PUR catalyzes further intellectual innovations and pursuits, thereby energizing the academic community.
    • Spaces Between: an Undergraduate Feminist Journal (U. Alberta) 
      Spaces Between is a student-run, student-written, peer reviewed undergraduate journal. This publication is a forum for undergraduate students to publish their work in Women’s and Gender Studies as well as feminist research and writing within other disciplines. Spaces Between is wide in scope: we welcome research and writing that critically engages with gender, sexuality, race, class, (dis)ability, nation, imperialism, (de)colonization, and globalization.
    • Stanford Undergraduate Research Journal (Stanford University)
      The Stanford Undergraduate Research Journal (SURJ) is an annual peer-reviewed publication of research articles written primarily by Stanford undergraduates, but also by well-qualified students at other institutions, from all academic fields.
    • Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences (Kappa Omicron Nu Leadership Academy, MI)
      The URC Undergraduate Research Journal is an annual online national, reviewed journal dedicated to the publication of undergraduate student research. The twofold purpose of the journal is to foster and reward the scholarly efforts of undergraduate human sciences students as well as to provide a valuable learning experience. The articles represent primarily the work of the undergraduate student(s). Faculty members who deserve recognition are identified by an asterisk next to their names.

    Last updated October 10, 2017