This guide is designed to assist students enrolled in any class (Political Science, Economics, Geography, etc.) that requires research on the cultural, economics, history, politics, or religion of a specific country. The guide is organized into steps that cover the basic research process: identifying a topic, locating relevant sources, and citing sources used to write the paper. For general research assistance other than Country Studies view the links listed under Research Tools.
Whether your instructor assigns you a topic or you choose one yourself, an effective way to begin your research is with a source that presents an overview of the issues. This will enable you to focus your topic while providing valuable background information for selecting articles and information from other resources. The following sources are recommended as starting points for identifying issues related to Country Studies:
Books and other Library materials can be searched using the Online Catalog. Books for Country Studies are categorized by country within sections D-DH (World history and history of Europe, Asia, Africa, etc.) and G-GT (Geography, Anthropology, Folklore, and Customs). There are two categories of books in the Library: general and reference. General books can be checked out and are often used for more in-depth research. Reference books do not circulate but can be useful for acquiring an overview on a topic. Reference books are located on the upper floor of the Library and circulating books are in the "Stacks" on the lower floor.
A few select reference titles for Country Studies are listed below. (Note: To access eBooks from off-campus you must login to the Library Databases and select eBooks.)
The Library subscribes to online databases that provide access to full-text magazines, scholarly journals, newspaper articles, and eBooks. Since databases are subscriptions that contain copyrighted written materials, off-campus access is password protected. To search from home you will first need to apply for a password using the link at the top of the Databases Web page. The following databases are suggested for Country Studies research:
The Library maintains a collection of instructor reserve materials. These consist of textbooks, videos, and supplemental course materials that instructors have put in the Library for student use. To find what materials are available for a specific class, search Course Reserves in the Online Catalog. It is best to search by "Course Number" (ex. POLS 101) in that an instructor other than yours may have placed an item on reserve. Materials can be requested at the Periodicals counter and generally must be used in the Library on a two-hour loan period. Photocopy machines are available for 10¢ a copy.
The most common way to cite sources is to use a bibliography or "Works Cited" list at the end of your paper. The works cited list includes a citation for each of the sources you used to write your paper. The citations are formatted in a consistent style according to one of several standard citation formats. The two most common citation formats for college research papers are: (1) The APA Publication Manual (American Psychological Association) - predominately used in Social Sciences and (2) The MLA Handbook (Modern Language Association) - predominately used in Humanities and Liberal Arts. Copies of the MLA Handbook (LB 2369 G53 2016) and the APA Manual (BF76.7 .P83 2010) are available in the Library stacks and the reference collection. An abbreviated version of each style is also on the Library's website under "Research Tools" - MLA or APA. The abbreviated version contains examples for citing full-text articles from online databases and other selected sources. If you are unsure about when and why it is necessary to cite sources, see "Understanding Plagiarism" for a concise overview. Assistance with writing your paper is available at the VVC Writing Center. Always check with your instructor for the required citation format.