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Political Studies Library Guide: Home

Political Studies Library Guide

Some Reference and Stats Databases

World Bank - World dataBank 
The Data Catalog provides download access to over 2,000 indicators from World Bank data sources.
World Constitutions Illustrated - via HeinOnline 
Click on the link, go to Subscribers Click Here to Enter and select World Constitutions Illustrated from the list of subscribed libraries.
World Development Indicators Online 
World Bank Database of economic and demographic indicators for countries and regions of the world, stretching back to 1960.
World Factbook 
The CIA's World Factbook "provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities."

The Institute for Security Studies  site provides integrated forecasts of Africa’s development prospects and potential. Prospects cover 14 sectors for each African country, region, regional economic community and country income groups within the timeline of the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The v-Dem Institute Varieties of Democracy annual reports


Three top-end Country Political and Economic overview sources

Country Watch

Provides critical country-specific intelligence and data through its suite of products to over 4000 clients including public and private sector organizations with overseas operations and global interests.

Select Login via my IP Address to gain full access.

Africa South of the Sahara 

Access is limited to 1 user at a time

Europa World Year Book

Access is limited to 1 user at a time.

Reference Books - Print and Electronic

Examples of some useful reference books for Political Studies are:

·         International encyclopedia of political science / R 320.03 INTE


·         Encyclopedia of political theory /R 320.03 ENCY


·         The international studies encyclopedia / R 327.03 INTE


·         Encyclopedia of international relations and global politics / R 327.03 ENCY


·         Encyclopedia of political communication / R 320.014 ENCY


·         Encyclopedia of the age of political revolutions and new ideologies, 1760-1815 / R 909.703 ENCY


·         Encyclopedia of public administration and public policy /R 320.97303 ENCY


·         Encyclopedia of government and politics / R 320.03 ENCY


·         The encyclopedia of political revolutions / R 903 ENCY


We also have a number of electronic encyclopedias.


These are useful when you are researching from off-campus. The most useful of these is Oxford Reference Online. 


If you go to the library homepage at and mouse over Search & Find, you can select Databases A-Z. 

You can find Oxford Reference Online alphabetically on this list. 


Shelf Numbers

Important note about electronic vs. print books: While the Library still maintains strong print collections, it is important to note that many of our newest books are available only in electronic rather than print versions. This is especially so in the Social Sciences but can also be true of some critical or highly-used works in the Arts and Literature subjects.

It is therefore essential to use the library catalogue, Primo, which has hotlinks to the electronic books, since browsing the physical collection alone will cause you to miss the up-to-date, new material added to the Library holdings over the last few years.


320 Political Science (Politics and Government)
320.3 Comparative Government                         
320.4 Structure and Functions of Government    
320.5 Political Ideologies                         
320.6 Policy Making                                         
321 Systems of Governments and States            
322 Relation of the State to Organized Groups       
323 Civil and Political Rights                              
324 The Political Process
325 International Migration and Colonization
326 Slavery and Emancipation
327 International Relations

328 Legislative Process
335 Socialism & Related Systems 
342 Constitutional and Administrative Law

352 General Public Administration
353 Specific Fields of Public Administration


World Bank Report on Inequality


PRIMO: the Basics of Survival on the UCT Catalogue


PRIMO is a tool for searching across the UCT library book catalogue as well as a selection of our databases of full text journal articles, all with one query.

You can find it on the library homepage at


In this example we going to do a search in the Sociology of Literature – (the study of literature as a reflection of its society), and a very nice topic for bridging both the Arts and the Social Sciences it is too.

We are going to look for a particular author – Nontsizi Mgqwetho.

This quick search brings up the copies that we have of her work, as well as books and articles about her work. 


Clicking on the TITLE of the top record takes me to the records for the printed books and gives me the shelf number so I can find them on the shelves: It says the book is available at the African Studies Library and other locations.

The African Studies Library is a research and archive collection, which collects and preserves books in stock for the generations yet to come and attracts researchers from around the world. In consequence the African Studies collection books can only be read in that library and may not be borrowed. 

The Main Library copy is the one that can be borrowed, but you have to get into the full record to finds its specific shelf number.


The shelf number works like a street address – just follow the numbers up or down until you get to the address you want.  Shelf numbers keep related books together, so once you have found your book, it is often useful to browse the books on either side of it as well.

In fact, you don’t even have to physically be in the library to do it… If you again click on the title of one of the results, you will be taken to the full record for the book – which has a virtual browse option – so you can see all its neighbouring books…. You never know what you will discover that way.


By clicking on the blue subject headings in the record you can also call up similar books which share that subject heading.



On the search screen you can use a drop-down arrow to search only for electronic journal articles or electronic books or reference works.



In this example, restricting the search to Articles & other Electronic Resources, the top results are for electronic journal articles…



And further down we have an electronic encyclopaedia entry for her, also available online.



If I click on the title I will be taken to a full record for the article or electronic book, and a link to the database on which it lives:



And so to download the article:



The record also shows me how to cite the book or article – which I will need to do if I am going to use it in an essay:



Or, even better, it allows me to send the record to a program like RefWorks or Endnote, which does my citing for me, automatically, at the touch of a button….




The left-hand side of the screen has all sorts of options for refining or restricting your results:


The most useful are probably Peer-reviewed Journals (the most respectable journals, I which every article is vetted by other academics), Subject or Resource type:

If you are getting too many results – and PRIMO can bring up a lot of results – you can use an Advanced Search to search more precisely:


And if you are looking for a very specific book, journal or article – for example from a reading list - PRIMO has a Find By Citation form which can help you find exactly that reference. I’ll use a good social science example here:


Just put in as much information as you have on the reference:

Shaffer, P., 1998. Gender, poverty and deprivation: evidence from the Republic of Guinea. World Development, 26(12), pp.2119-2135.

And this will bring it up in both print and electronic versions:

And clicking on the full text or database link will take you to it.


A digression into Boolean Searching


It is possible to create very precise searches just using keywords.

The trick is to combine them with Boolean Operators, wildcards and brackets. Most of our databases, including our library catalogue, take Boolean operators.

Consider this search string:

(child* OR wom?n OR gender) AND poverty AND Africa* NOT “African American”

The * is a wildcard – it calls up anything that follows the root “child” – so it will being up child and children or childhood……

The ? is a mid-word wildcard – calls up women and woman…

The OR expands you options – women or gender must come up in the results, it doesn’t matter which….

The (brackets) keep the OR words together and relate them to the AND which follows – otherwise the search would call up anything to do with women, regardless of whether it had to do with poverty and Africa….

Any words linked with AND must be included in the search results - OR broadens a search, AND tightens it.

NOT excludes a term. Be careful of this. First search without it, to get an idea of what you are missing.

“Inverted commas” enclose a precise phrase.


To use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) in PRIMO, you must enter them in CAPITAL LETTERS, otherwise PRIMO ignores them.


Don’t forget that you can restrict the search to electronic journal articles or electronic books only, using the drop-down arrow – useful if you are off-campus.



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Jamie-lee Hendricks
Office No. 4
Research Wing, Level 5
Chancellor Oppenheimer Library
+27 21 650 5668
Subjects: Political Studies

Specialist Databases of interest to Political Studies

Databases for Political Studies

Many of our journals can also be found full text in electronic format on our databases. These databases contain thousands of journals, all searchable by keywords, like chunk of google.

Most of the journals are full text nowadays. In some cases, though, the databases may just give a reference to the journal article, rather than the whole thing. This will tell you which year and volume and pages of a particular print journal to look at to find the article.

You can get to our databases from and mousing over Search & Find and selecting Databases. This takes you to an A-Z list of the databases.

There is a specialist database for Political Studies called PAIS

PAIS Index
This database chronicles issues in the public debate through highly selective coverage of a wide variety of sources including journal articles, books, government documents, statistical directories, grey literature, research reports, conference papers, publications of international agencies, microfiche, Internet material and more. The database includes a historical perspective on many of the 20th century's social and public policies. Though largely American in emphasis, it includes key political matters for other countries – Apartheid, for example.

Two South African databases of specific interest to Political Studies are:

Parliamentary Bills - via Sabinet Legal

Parliamentary Monitoring Group
Access is by password and restricted to certain minutes - please contact the Government Publications Library on 650 3177.

Other databases of African interest, which often have a lot on political matters, are:

Africa-Wide Information- via EBSCOhost
Africa-Wide Information combines databases (African Studies, South African Studies, and African Healthline) to form a multidisciplinary aggregation offering unique and extensive coverage of all facets of Africa and African studies. This resource is essential for those with an interest in African research, and information on and about Africa.

Sabinet African Journals is a full text database of South African journals.

Africa Development Indicators
ADI is the premier data source on the African economy. It contains 1400+ indicators & time series from 1965 for 53 countries. Data include social, economic, financial, natural resources, infrastructure, governance, partnership, & environmental indicators. It brings an essay on a key topic--the long term growth challenges of the continent.

Some general databases which are often useful in Political Studies searches are:

Academic Search Premier - via EBSCOhost (Full Text)
Provides journal coverage for most academic areas of study—including biological sciences, economics, communications, computer sciences, engineering, language and linguistics, arts and literature, medical sciences and women's studies.

Sociological Abstracts
Sociological Abstracts provides access to the world's literature in sociology and related disciplines, both theoretical and applied. The database includes abstracts of journal articles selected from over 2500 journals, abstracts of conference papers presented at various sociological association meetings, relevant dissertation listings from Dissertations Abstracts International, enhanced bibliographic citations of book reviews, and abstracts of selected sociology books. Approximately 2500 journals in 30 different languages from about 55 countries are scanned for inclusion, covering sociological topics in fields such as anthropology, economics, education, medicine, community development, philosophy, demography, political science, and social psychology. Journals published by sociological associations, groups, faculties, and institutes, and periodicals containing the term "sociology" in their titles, are abstracted fully, irrespective of language or country of publication. Non-core journals are screened for articles by sociologists and/or articles of immediate interest or relevance to sociologists.

SocINDEX with Full Text - via EBSCOhost
SocINDEX with Full Text, is the world's most comprehensive and highest quality sociology research database.

Communication and Mass Media Complete - via EBSCOhost
CMMC incorporates CommSearch (formerly produced by the National Communication Association) and Mass Media Articles Index (formerly produced by Penn State) along with numerous other journals to create a research and reference resource of unprecedented scope and depth in the communication and mass media fields.

Social Services Abstracts
Social work and human services - journal articles, dissertations, etc.

Scopus An the incredibly wide-ranging general database, and also good for citation searaching (following a good article forward by finding out who has cited it.)

JSTOR A back file of old and classic articles.



United Nations Online Library