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POL 150: Comparative Politics: Start

Welcome!

This guide contains resources to help you find and evaluate sources for your research. Explore what's here and see how it informs your topic.

  • Don't hesitate to ask if you've got questions! Send me an email - I enjoy helping you solve any research problems you have. We can work via email or set up a virtual or in person time to chat.
  • You can also find library and research help at the library's Information Desk or via Reference Services.
  • Use the Getting Started tab (above) when you dive into your project; consult the entire guide at all steps during the research process.

If you need a refresher on using the Library, consult our Library FAQs and overview of the Library. We also have a guide on how to do research well - use it to brush up and expand your research skills! There's also a guide on how to cite sources. And since everyone can use a refresher on how to find books in the library, we have a guide for that, too.

Thinking about Statistics

Searching for statistics, especially from other countries, can be at times challenging, frustrating and exciting. You will not find everything you're looking for in a neat and tidy package. Plan to spend a good deal of time sifting through sources to find the statistics you're looking for. Persistence and perseverance can pay off!

  • Who/what would collect statistics on my topic?
    Governments tend to collect many kinds of statistics. In the United States, for example, the government collects statistics on population trends, crime, health, education, housing, natural resources, etc. News organizations, polling places, institutes, think tanks and researchers also collect data, so consider the types of institutions beyond the government that would collect data on your topic.
  • How would statistics on my topic be made public?
    You can find statistics in a number of places, both in print and online. Use the tabs above for specific resources. Keep in mind, however, that not every statistic is publicly available.
  • How does the structure of the country's government affect how statistics might be available?
    If the country has a strong centralized government, you might find lots of statistics through a search of that government's webpages. If you have a country that is less centralized, like the United States, you might find that the federal government collects some statistics while states or provinces collect others. Keep in mind, too, that not every country collects the same kinds of statistics or to the same degree.
  • What possible barriers might prevent me from finding statistics on my topic?
    While researching statistics, there are many possible barriers. Statistics for your topic might not be made public, or might not be available in a neat package. You might have to sift through a lot of sources to put together what you're looking for. You might encounter language barriers. You might also find that data simply wasn't collected for the years you're looking for - or wasn't collected at all. Keep these possible barriers in mind, along with an attitude of patience and perseverance.

Librarian

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Julie Gilbert
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Hello! I look forward to working with you. If you have any questions about research, an assignment, or the library in general, please contact me - (jgilber2 @ gustavus.edu). You can also reach any of the reference librarians at folke @ gustavus.edu or via the Ask Us! button on the library's homepage.
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