Whether you’re interested in historical events and personalities or current events and global policy, political science is the study for you. From past presidents to the inner workings of a democracy, you can indulge your curiosity and explore any number of subjects that interest you. If you are working on a term paper or research project for a political science course, when it comes to topics, the choice is yours!
Play the field
As we approach the start of our president’s second term in office, our thoughts are filled with news and opinions on the nature of governance and the workings of our political system. You might want to focus your term paper on a topic related to the election. Even so, this is still a wide area to research. You might want to make your first stop Questia, the world’s largest online library with thousands of full-text books and magazines.
Once at Questia, you can begin your search within the category of politics and government where you will find such sub-categories as:
- Political movements
- Political parties
- Public policy
- U.S. government
- Political figures — U.S.
Let’s say that you decide to do research on the career of Barack Obama. Follow the Barack Obama topic page to a list of full textbooks and articles that you can read to your heart’s content.
One of the journal articles about the president is “The Obama Presidential Transition: An Early Assessment” by John P. Burke published in Presidential Studies Quarterly, 2009. In the article, Burke described the various strategies employed by Barack Obama and his team, both before and after the election to ensure a smooth transition into office. Through his descriptions of the campaign, you get a fly-on-the-wall look at how a presidential candidate moves from the campaign trail into the White House.
“President Obama signaled his intention to make a clean break from the unpopular Bush presidency with his executive orders and early policy and budget proposals. At the same time, he also sought to tamp down public expectations for quick results on the economy,” Burke said.
There are all kinds of blogs related to politics, each expressing the views of its creators. You will want to review several blogs to ensure that you get a well-rounded background on the issues. A good place to start is the Ideas Matter blog where you can find posts and video content on the major issues of the day. The blog is part of the Free To Choose Network, which describes itself as “neither conservative nor liberal.”
An example of the kind of commentary you will find here is this excerpt from a February 15, 2011 post by Max Borders titled, “Ayn Rand: A Grudging Respect.” Regarding his thoughts about Rand, Borders said, “I’d venture to guess that 90 percent of classical liberals got into these ideas because of Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand or Friedrich Hayek. Their effect is just that profound. While I no longer consider Rand’s Objectivist philosophy to be philosophically rigorous or well-grounded, I owe her for everything I am.”
What’s so great about this blog post is that it, like all of the posts at Ideas Matter, contains video clips. In this case, you can see the 1959 interview of Ayn Rand by Mike Wallace and learn about her philosophy in her own words.
Other political science resources
The Library of Congress: Government, Politics and Law — You can browse on topics such as: civil rights, the courts and the judicial branch, elections, and voting.
The American Political Science Association (APSANet): the site contains a section dedicated to students where you can find links to information about: networking with others in the political science community, trends, data, and careers in political science.
MIT Open Courseware: this site contains lecture notes from several political science courses that have been held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Gallup: You may have heard of the Gallup poll research studies. The Gallup site contains information derived from its studies.
Academic Earth: at the political science page you will find free video courses on such topics as: game theory, international politics, and capitalism.