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Effective Library Research for Politics Dissertations: 6. Research databases

Online support to assist with planning and conducting your library dissertation research

Databases provide access to scholarly research, including journal articles, conference proceedings and books.

wide range of databases are available to you at the University. 

Below, you can find out more about  research databases, and also browse the Politics & International Relations database list.

More support information is provided on a selection of the key databases that you may wish to use for your research.

Depending on your topic, you may need to explore databases from other subject areas, or particular types of databases such as news sources or official publications.  Use the full A--Z database list to browse all databases

Take some time to explore the databases and familiarise yourself with searching and downloading information.

Politics & International Relatations

The databases for your subject are:

About Databases

What is a database?

Research databases enable you to see what has been published in the area you are researching. They contain detailed records of thousands of journal articles, book references and conference proceedings. These records usually include the article title, authors, abstract (a brief summary), keywords (to enable your search to find it) and more.

Why should I use a database?

  • They are a valuable way of searching for published scholarly research across a wide number of sources
  • You can build complex searches using sophisticated search interfaces. There will be plenty of options to refine your searches, ensuring that the results are likely to be relevant to your needs
  • They contain huge numbers of records, and thus provide comprehensive subject coverage
  • They also provide frequent (often daily) indexing, and so are very up to date

There are many different databases. Their interfaces will all vary, and they may use different terminology.

However, they all have similar features. Once you are familiar with these, you'll be able to find your way around different databases. You can see the main features in the examples below.

This is what a standard database interface looks like:

Once you click the Search button, the results page appears:

It is important to note:

  • Some databases provide full text access to the articles themselves.
  • Some databases are primarily indexes or bibliographic databases, and although they provide information about the content of a journal article, they may not provide full-text access to the actual article itself.
  • Some databases are a mixture of full-text and indexed/bibliographic access.


So, when searching databases, be prepared for an extra step. 

After finding a relevant article or book you need to check whether you have access to that item, either in print or in full-text online.  Many of the databases will have a Check for this at Exeter button; clicking on this link will check whether we have access to the item.



1. Web of Science

Web of Science is a large multidisciplinary research database covering all subject areas.

You can use it to discover the global literature on a wide range of topics.  It is not a full text database, but you can use it to discover published material and follow links through to discover the full text available on other services.

2. IBSS / ASSIA / Proquest Sociology

IBSS and ASSIA are academic research databases on the ProQuest platform (sharing the same interface and features). They are both multidisciplinary resources, offering peer-reviewed academic articles and other research materials from across the social sciences.

ASSIA can also be searched as part of the Proquest Sociology collection. 

Use the IBSS ASSIA or the Sociology Collection Libguides for comprehensive support and training.

As they all share the same search interface, you will soon become familiar with searching and working with your search results.

Use the Search and Filtering demos on the next tabs for support.



JSTOR is a valuable research resource for secondary resources.  You can use it to search and find the full text of published books and journal articles.

Use the How to Search JSTOR LibGuide for an introduction to the service, or take a look at JSTOR's Vimeo channel for instructional videos.

Top Tip: Use the Advanced search option if you want to focus your searching just on the 'Political Science' or 'International Relations' subject areas.


You an enter a quick search into the quick search box on the JSTOR home page, for example:

technocracy AND "European Union"


Just click on an item to view it and explore it in more detail


You can refine your search results from the Refine Results options on the left of your search results.

You may want to refine your results if you find too many as a result of your initial search.

For example, you can search within results or limit by  content type (books or journals), date of publication or subject

The advanced search allows you to be more targeted with your research and apply limits/filters to your search before you begin.

For example, you can add multiple search terms, specify the proximity of your search terms and also select a discipline, e.g. Political Science, so that you filter out material from other subject disciplines.


4. Chatham House Online Archive

The Chatham House Online Archive provides fully searchable access to thousands of items from the Royal Institute of International Affairs from 1920-2008. The archive contains material on a broad range of themes, from politics, economics and international relations, to armed forces, mass media, human rights and imperialism. Available content includes books, journals, speeches, conference papers, pamphlets, reports, letters and more.


The advanced search feature (above) allows you to combine your keyword terms and add search limits in a similar style to academic journal databases.

Use the archive's 'Faceted Browse' option (above) to search for and identify documents based on up to six specific criteria.

Other Information Sources

The resources highlighted above are just a small selection of the databases available to support your research. The university has access to many more resources offering alternative types of information. Use the tabs on the right for information on how to access our significant collections of news sources and official publications, as well as information on international economies and research methodologies.

You can find even more resources by heading to the A-Z Databases list and filtering by subjects such as Politics & International Relations, Economics, History, Middle Eastern Studies or Security Studies.

You may like to see how issues are portrayed in the press. Explore the news LibGuide for information on the range of news sources available via the Library.

Key resources include:

  • Financial Times subscription
  • The Economist
  • Nexis UK - A large full text database providing current newspaper coverage from local, national and international titles.
  • Newspaper archives -  Extensive archives for a range of UK and international newspapers.

Nexis allows you to search across UK and international newspapers in a similar style to academic research databases like IBSS and JSTOR. Search by topic (shown below), article title or author to access extensive, up-to-date news coverage. 


Image 1: Search interface.


Image 2: Nexis results page (filtered by publication).

Visit the Official Publications LibGuide for guidance and recommendation on accessing:

  • UK Parliamentary papers; including debates and legislation
  • Official European Union publications
  • Information from key international bodies; including the OECD, World Trade Organization and the World Bank

Looking for guidance on developing your research methodology? Sage Research Methods Online (SRMO) is a great resource to use when you are planning and conducting your research.  It is a vast online research methods library

It is targeted at social science researchers, and covers key research methodology topics that are applicable across the research spectrum.

Sage have produced this LibGuide to help you get the best from the resource.

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