CSUN WordmarkOviatt Library Wordmark

Political Science 404 Urban Politics

Professor Boris Ricks

Internet Sites

Be cautious when using information you find on web sites that you located by searching Google, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, Vivisimo, etc. Anyone can make a web page and the information may not be reliable or accurate.

City of Los Angeles (https://www.lacity.org/)

City of San Fernando: Historic and Visionary (http://www.ci.san-fernando.ca.us/)

City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning (http://cityplanning.lacity.org/)

City of Los Angeles Police Department (http://www.lapdonline.org/)

Los Angeles Historical Society (http://www.lacityhistory.org/)

2016Elections (http://www.politico.com/news/2016-elections)

Ballot Initiative Strategy Center (BISC)
A non-profit organization that serves as a resource for grassroots advocates and uses the ballot measure process as a tool for achieving progressive policy goals and political gains.

Provides information on national elections, breaking news on election-related laws and political developments, and election results and voter turnout from around the world.

A project of the Pew Center on the States, this is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy website providing up-to-the-minute news and analysis on election reform and is a leading resource to learn about, discuss, and debate election administration issues.

Comprehensive, non-partisan clearinghouse of campaign and election information. Includes a list of political news sources, links to leading groups representing all sides of the current policy issues, and a list of candidate web sites and a directory of other resources devoted to the 2008 race.

A site created by the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly to help voters separate fact from falsehood in the 2008 presidential campaign. Journalists and researchers from the Times and CQ will fact-check and rate the accuracy of speeches, TV ads, interviews and other campaign communications.

270 to win
It will take 270 electoral votes to win the 2016 presidential election. Click states on this interactive map to create your own 2016 election forecast. Create a specific match-up by clicking the party and/or names above the electoral vote counter. Use Map Options to create a map with more detailed ratings (e.g., safe, likely, leaning). Use the buttons below the map to share your forecast or embed it into a web page."

Voting America
Provides cinematic and interactive maps showing how Americans voted in presidential elections at the county level, from the beginning of the modern party system in 1840 to the present.

Directories and Resource Guides

Congressional Reseach Service Reports -- a collection of more than 14,000 digitized Congressional Research Service reports. The site also includes links to other collections of CRS reports.

IPSAportal Top 300 Web Sites for Political Science -- provides access to the top web sites as evaluated and selected by scholars within the International Political Science Association.

LegiStorm -- as a non-partisan company, LegiStorm is dedicated to providing a variety of important information about the US Congress, including a database of congressional staff salaries and a comprehensive database of all privately financed trips taken by members of Congress and congressional staffers. Also tracks the latest happenings on the House and Senate floors, as well as upcoming floor debates and committee hearings.

LSU Libraries Federal Agencies Directory -- a comprehensive and frequently updated web site directory of federal agencies in the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches as well as all independent councils, boards, committeess, and commisions. Links can be browsed hierarchically or alphabetically.

Money in State Politics -- a searchable database developed by The National Institute on Money in State Politics dedicated to accurate, comprehensive, and unbiased documentation and research on campaign finance at the state level. Database includes over 12 million records.

Richard Kimber's Political Science Resources -- up-to-date and comprehensive directory of scholarly resources for students and researchers in political science.


Library Catalog - for books, videos, and archival materials that will help you identify informative and persuasive topics. Use the KEYWORD search if you aren't sure of the official Subject Headings for your topic.

Selected References:

Subject Headings - examples that may work for topics in this class:

  • Urban policy -- United States.
  • Metropolitan government -- United States.
  • Cities and towns -- Research -- United States.
  • Urban policy -- United States -- Case studies.
  • Municipal government -- United States -- Case studies.
  • Professional sports -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • Sports franchises -- United States -- Location.
  • Sports franchises.
  • Cities and towns -- United States.
  • Community organization.

Internet resource list origianlly developed by Eric Garcia and last updated on February 2, 2016.  If you have additions or comments you made to this list please contact either Eric Garcia (eric.garcia@csun.edu) or Doris Helfer (doris.helfer@csun.edu).

Choose the Right Resource

When choosing resources for your assignment, consider:

  • Assignment requirements—what does the professor want you to cite?
  • Learn about your topic -- You may want to use a reference book like an encyclopedia (print or online) to start out with if you don't have a clear understanding of your topic yet.
  • Time—the more current the topic, the less will be found in scholarly journals or books, which take longer to get published. Recent events will be covered on the Internet, in newspapers and magazines, as well as in the media.
  • Depth of coverage and/or the topic—scholarly journals and books cover topics in more depth than magazines and newspapers. Some topics are not covered by the popular press, e.g., research that would not be of interest to the average consumer.
  • Quality of the resource - see Step 3: Evaluating Sources
Type of Information You Need Try These Resources
Does your topic cover current events? Newspapers, magazines, Internet
Do you need general information on a specific topic, written in a non-specialist style?
Newspapers, magazines, Internet
Do you need in-depth information on a specific topic, written for the college student and above by authorities in the field? Scholarly journals
Do you need more detail and/or has the topic been written about for awhile? Books
Do you need an overview, quick facts, statistics on a topic? Reference books, Internet

Library Catalog Basic Search

Home page Search Box

Starting from the Library Catalog Basic Search screen you can search by Keyword, Title, Author, or Subject by selecting the radio buttons and typing search words in the text box.

The default Limits setting will search the entire collection. You may also limit your search to smaller sub-collections: Ejournals (electronic periodicals--not specific articles), Ebooks, NCOD (National Center on Deafness), TCC (Teacher Curriculum Center), Periodicals/Serials (not specific articles), Videos, Reference Room, Special Collections, or Sound Recordings by selecting a collection from the drop-down menu.

Searching for a specific Item

Select an Author or Title search if you know the author (last name, first name) or at least the first few words of the title.

Searching for Items by Topic

There are two ways to search the online catalog for resources on a topic: by Keyword or by Subject.

  • A Basic Keyword search will simultaneously look for words in titles of materials, in subject headings, and in notes fields.
  • A Subject search will locate materials by Library of Congress Subject Headings, which is a controlled vocabulary or standard list of subject terms. The Oviatt Library assigns Library of Congress Subject Headings to all items listed in the online catalog.
  • Another way to find the Library of Congress Subject Heading for your topic is to search the catalog by Keyword, display the record for a relevant title, and select one or more of the Subjects listed for that record.

Keyword Searching

  1. Use keyword when your term may be very new, very distinctive, or jargon, e.g. "instant messaging", "XML".
  2. Use a variety of keywords. There may be additional items on your topic that use different terms.
  3. Be aware that you may retrieve items not related to your topic (called false drops)
  4. When you cannot remember the exact title of an item, do a keyword search using the title words you remember.

Keyword Searching Examples

Variety of terms: If you are looking for items on the "movies", use additional keywords such as "film", "films", "cinema", or "motion pictures".

An example of retrieving results unrelated to your topic (false drops): using the keyword "cricket" will retrieve items about the sport as well as the insect.

An example of using keywords to find titles when you are unsure of the exact title:

Both CAGED and BIRD are in 6 titles.
There are 6 entries with CAGED & BIRD.

You searched for the WORDS: bird caged
Found 6 items:

  1. Caged bird medicine : selected topics / Charles V. Steiner (1981)
  2. I know why the caged bird sings (1969)
  3. Many voices. 8A-6B (sound recording) : for Adventures for re (1986)
  4. Maya Angelou / Miles Shapiro (1994)
  5. Poco / by Garry and Vesta Smith; illustrated by Fred Crump (1975)
  6. Voices in Black & White : writings on race in America from H (1993)

Searching for Periodical Titles in the Library Catalog

You can search by Periodical title by selecting the Periodicals tab on the homepage.

  • The Oviatt Library subscribes to over 1,700 print and over 25,000 online periodicals, which include research journals, magazines, and newspapers.
  • For online periodicals only, select the Search electronic periodicals only check box.

NOTE: The Library catalog offers title searching for periodicals, but not for specific articles. For access to periodical articles, search the databases listed on the Library's Databases by Subject page.

Viewing Results in the Library Catalog

Select a title to see more information.

Information includes publication information, location, call number and checkout status. Click on the various links to find more items by the same author or in the same subject area.

Evaluating Print and Internet Resources

Library and Internet resources should be evaluated to determine their quality and relevance to your topic before citing them for a research assignment.

Use the criteria below to help you evaluate resources. Note: Titles below marked with an asterisk * are in hardcopy in the Oviatt Library--click the link to get location information.

Jump to: Authority | Content & Coverage | Timeliness | Accuracy | Objectivity | Using URLs to Determine Authority & Objectivity


Content & Coverage

  • Who is the audience for the publication or Web site (scholarly or general)?
  • Is the information primary or secondary in nature?
  • Does it provide general background information or in-depth information on a specific topic? Which do you need?
  • How extensive is the bibliography or list of cited references? Can you use these references to find more information on your topic?


  • What is the publication date of the book or article?
  • Is there a date anywhere on the Web page, such as date created, last update, etc.?
  • How up-to-date are the citations in the bibliography?
  • How current do you need for your topic?


  • Have other scholars evaluated the resource?
    • Books: Use the sources below to locate book reviews:
    • Articles: How have other scholars evaluated the article in follow-up letters or editorials?

      Letters or editorials in response to journal articles are usually indexed just like the original article. Search keywords from the article title and/or author name using a relevant Library database or ask a librarian to recommend an appropriate database.

  • Can you find the same information in another source?


Determine whether the information is fact, opinion or propaganda.

  • Are there footnotes to show the source of the facts or quotes?
  • Does the publisher have a particular bias?
  • Are opinions or propaganda easy to recognize?
  • Do the words and phrases play to your emotions or bias the content?
  • Are there advertisements that suggest the information might be biased toward selling a product rather than providing objective information?
  • Can you determine from the Web site's address (URL) a particular bias? Often the URL domain's extension (.com, .edu, etc.) gives you a clue about the site.

Using URLs to Determine Authority and Objectivity

Internet address (URL) domain extensions can be used to help determine authority and objectivity. A more complete list of two- and three- letter URL extensions is also available.


Government. The intent of the site is to present official information collected by or about the workings of a government.


Educational institution. The intent of the site is to educate as well as present information collected by or about the educational institution.


Commercial. The intent of the site is to sell goods or services, as well as provide information about the company.


Organization, usually non-profit. The intent of the site is to present information collected by or about the organization. Sometimes, the intent of the site is to promote a particular point of view.


Network, usually personal Web pages. The intent of the site is as varied as the individual(s) responsible for the content.


How to Cite Articles

  • Determine which citation style to use; the two most commonly used at CSUN are MLA and APA. If your professor didn't specify, pick one and use it consistently.
  • Check the sample style sheets (MLA or APA) to see what information the article citation should contain and how it should be formatted.
  • Be sure to indicate where material you quoted directly or paraphrased came from.

For more information, see Citing Your Sources - Plagiarism.

What is Plagiarism?

To plagiarize means to:

  • Steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own;
  • Use (another's production) without crediting the source;
  • Commit literary theft;
  • Present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

(Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary definition of "plagiarize," retrieved June 20, 2005)

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are words (or, and, not) used to connect search terms to expand (or) or narrow (and, not) a search within a database to locate relevant information. Boolean operators are also called logical operators or connectors.

It is helpful to diagram the effects of these operators:

Or Relationship diagram

women or females

Or retrieves records that contain any of the search terms. It expands the search. Therefore, use "or" in between terms that have the same meaning (synonyms) or equal value to the search.

And Relationship diagram

women and media

And retrieves records that contain all of the search terms. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "and" in between terms that are required to make the search specific.

Not Relationship diagram

image not weight

Not eliminates records that contain a search term. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "not" in front of a term to ensure that the search will not include that term. Warning: Some databases use "and not" instead of "not." Check the database help screen.

Evaluating Internet Resources

Internet resources can be even more challenging to evaluate because dates and authors are not always readily available. Plus, we all know that anyone can create a website. Using the CRAAP test will help you thoroughly evaluate your source, but the following are some important things to consider when reviewing internet sources. 

Who Created the Information?

Websites do not always have authors so you'll need to find information on who or what organization is responsible for creating and updating the webpage. The following are links to look for on webpages that should provide more information on who is behind the website.

  • "About Us": usually provides information about the organization or company that is responsible for the webpage.
  • "Mission Statement": this will provide information on what the organizations values or goals are. 
  • "Contributors": provides information on who contributes content to the website, sometimes they'll even list the qualifications of their contributors. This section may also provide information on who funds either the website or the organization. *Beware of websites like Wikipedia where anyone can create an account and edit webpages.

Publication Dates

Finding the date a website was created or last updated can be difficult sometimes. If you can't find a date on a particular webpage, click around and look at the other resources on their website, can you find a date anywhere? Are there links to other sources that are out of date or dead links?

URL Domain Extensions

The following is a list of the most popular domain extensions, which can be used to help determine authority and objectivity. However, domain extensions alone cannot determine if a web source is quality or if it's right for your research.

.gov - Government. The intent of the site is to present official information collected by or about the workings of a government.

.edu - Educational institution. The intent of the site is to educate as well as present information collected by or about the educational institution. *Look out for student work or papers that haven't been published in an authoritative source.

.com - Commercial. The intent of the site is to sell goods or services, as well as provide information about the company.

.org - Organization, usually non-profit. The intent of the site is to present information collected by or about the organization. Sometimes, the intent of the site is to promote a particular point of view. *For more information about the organization check out Idealist.org

.net - Network, usually personal Web pages. The intent of the site is as varied as the individual(s) responsible for the content. *Usually not scholarly in nature, so if it is a personal page then make sure you research who that person is and what their qualifications are.

A more complete list of top-level domains is also available.

When to be skeptical?

  • There is no author or organization associated with the website.
  • There are a lot of advertisements and pop-ups. Just because a website looks professional does not mean that it's authoritative.
  • Websites that ask you to take some sort of action: donate money, sign a petition, give your email, etc. 
  • A website that only cites itself, providing links that only lead you to other resources within the site.


Scholarly Journals (Peer-reviewed/Referreed)

American Journal of Philology cover
  • Authors are authorities in their fields.
  • Authors cite their sources in endnotes, footnotes, or bibliographies.
  • Individual issues have little or no advertising.
  • Articles must go through a peer-review or refereed process.
  • Articles are usually reports on scholarly research.
  • Illustrations usually take the form of charts and graphs.
  • Articles use jargon of the discipline.

Search for Articles

Choose Keywords

Choose keywords that represent the important ideas you want the articles to contain. Given the topic the effect of television violence on children, you might choose television, violence and children as your keywords.

For more information, see Developing a Search Strategy.

Combine Keywords Using AND and OR (Boolean Operators) to Refine Your Search

Tell the database how to combine your keywords using Boolean operators.

  • If you want all of the keywords to appear in every article, put AND between them in the search box. Example: television AND violence AND children
  • To have the database search for articles where either of two terms appears, put OR between the terms in the search box. Example: teenagers OR adolescents

For more information, see Boolean Searching and Truncation.

Refine Your Search Using Limits and Field-Specific Searches

There are two options for refining your search beyond specifying keywords.

  • Field-specific searches: the database looks for a keyword in only a specific field, such as author, title, abstract, or publication title. Look for a field drop-down box next to the search box.
  • Limiters: additional fields that appear on the search page such as scholarly (or peer-reviewed), date of publication, and article type. For example, you can select the scholarly limiter and the database returns only scholarly articles.

Printing and Saving Articles in PDF Format

If you are viewing an article in PDF format, use the print and save icons in the Adobe Reader frame. Do not use File > Print, File > Save, Ctrl+P, or Ctrl+S because these commands cause the file to print or save incorrectly.

Select a Database

  • Use Databases A-Z to select a specific database or use Databases by Subject to view databases listed by subject.
  • OneSearch allows you to search across most of our article databases at once, and then narrow results by topic, subject area, item type, and date range.

Subject Searching

  1. New topics may not yet be included in the database's controlled vocabulary.
  2. Using the appropriate subject heading for a topic will retrieve all items in the database indexed under that topic.
  3. If you do not know the appropriate subject heading for your topic, conduct a keyword search first and look at the subject heading(s) of a relevant item.

Subject Searching Examples

Looking at the results, you would hopefully recognize the book you were seeking (in this case, #2).

  1. Conduct a keyword search using the term "ocean birds"
    You searched for the WORD: ocean birds
      QL673.L73 1984b
    Author: Lofgren, Lars.
    Title Ocean birds: their breeding, biology & behavior / Lars Lofgren.
    Publisher Beckenham, Kent: Croom Helm, c1984.
    Description 240 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 29 cm.
    Bibliography Bibliography: p.236
    Subject Sea birds.
  2. Once you have a relevant item, check the subject heading.
  3. Now conduct a subject search using the correct subject heading, sea birds.

    You searched for the SUBJECT
    : sea birds.
    23 SUBJECTS found with 37 ENTRIES
    1. Sea Birds---3 related Subjects
    2. Sea Birds- (11 entries)
    3. Sea Birds--Behavior
    4. Sea Bird-Ecology

By selecting #2, you will get a list of all the items on the topic of ocean birds (indexed in the database as "sea birds"). Note also the list of subject headings allows you to locate items on more specific topics as well as related topics.

Political Sciences Databases