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Syracuse University Libraries

PSC 400 - Humanitarian Action in World Politics (Spring 2020)

A research starting points guide for students in Prof Abdelaaty's PSC 400 course

What is in this Guide

Welcome to an SU Libraries course guide for PSC 400: Humanitarian Action in World Politics

Use the links to subpages of this guide and/or the resources below for access to some selected starting points from Syracuse University Libraries for this course.  The guide presents far more starting point options that any one PSC 400 student will need, but select judiciously, depending on your own specific topical and geographic focus.  Here's an overview of the contents:

  • Background Find out where to get in-depth background information from online and encyclopedia sources.  Generally, you will not rely solely on these so-called tertiary sources, but as background summaries they can be enormously helpful for thinking through development of the primary question for your research paper.  They may reveal to you proper names or phrases linked to specific international actors (persons, organizations, nations, ethnic or national or other groups, political party names, et al), not to mention event names, names of laws or treaties, etc.  And often reference encyclopedia style sources, in-depth research handbooks and the like will explicitly provide citations to other articles or books you may wish to track down and use in your preliminary bibliography, and/or also in your final research paper.
  • Research Methods Includes useful general discussion about search strategies and tutorials, with refreshers on how to navigate some of the primary Library search tools. Consult this if you feel rusty on how to think about research as a multi-step process.
  • Evaluating Sources Guidance offering concepts to consider when critically evaluating your sources.
  • Books Tips for locating books within SU Libraries collections, with the subject matter of this PSC course section in mind.  Scholarly books or book chapters (either print volumes or ebooks) will certainly be among source types you will want to use as you move toward work on your final research paper 
  • Articles, Video & Primary Sources Recommendations on finding articles using specific Library databases relevant for subject matter covered in this course.  An important subpage on this guide, and a central portal that can lead all PSC 400 students into search tools likely to uncover applicable source material, especially discussion published within scholarly journal articles.
  • Interlibrary Loan (ILLIAD) If SU Libraries lack specific articles or books you are looking for, those can be promptly borrowed for you from another Library - for free.
  • Useful Data Sources & Web Sites A cross section of relevant websites, including many with access to open statistical data pertinent to subjects investigated in the course. 

General Background Information on Countries


Europa world image

Europa World
Background on countries including political and economic information in over 250 countries and territories, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

The Economist logo


E.I.U. Economist Intelligence Unit
Objective and timely analysis and forecasts of the political, economic and business environment for almost 200 countries.  Also produces in-depth annual country commerce reports.  E.I.U.'s reporting is more lengthy than Europa World's briefer, encyclopedia style content.  See especially the report category within E.I.U. called 'country report.'  



eBook and Book examples

Three examples relevant to the course from among a great many print and ebook titles in the SU Libraries collection.  To locate "more like this" for any specific book title you locate, on the Classic Catalog item record for each book title, pay careful attention to words and/or phrases assigned to that title as "subjects" (in other databases, sometimes called "subject terms" or "subject headings" or "descriptors" or subject "tags.")  Using combinations of those words in subsequent searches of SUMMON and/or searches in article databases - increases likelihood you will have plenty of relevant sources from which to choose.

Encyclopedias, Literature Reviews and Oxford Handbooks


  • CQ Researcher - A terrific starting point for obtaining non-partisan historical background discussion, chronologies and references to further readings and websites.  Many CQ Researcher reports cover domestic U.S. politics.  However, for PSC 400 there are relevant encyclopedia style overviews if one enters the phrase "Foreign Aid" - including this CQ Researcher April 14, 2017 overview article entitled, Rethinking Foreign Aid:  Should the U.S. Cut Back on Assistance?

Encyclopedia style reports here include background chronologies, and also bibliographies listing additional articles or books you may wish to track down via SU Libraries (check with the librarian if not sure how to do that), as well are sets of websites appearing under the "contacts" segment of each relevant report, for links to relevant government agencies, international organizations and the like.


  • Annual Reviews - Offers highly scholarly review articles in a wide variety of disciplines, each loaded with citations to additional scholarly books and articles.  Topics covered tend to be fairly diverse.   PSC 400 students using this database will want to look to use the "advanced search" screen - and in addition to entering search words like "humanitarian" or "humanitarian action" or "military intervention" or "development aid" - also be sure to enter "annual review of political science" into the advanced search query window that is labeled, "published in" (otherwise you will have to wade thru results for journals having nothing to do with political science or IR).
  • You will likely see additional useful articles here if in addition to placing "annual review of political science" into that 'published in' query window - you also try - to limit to results "published in":

Annual Review of Anthropology
Annual Review of Sociology
Annual Review of Economics

HOW TO USE ANNUAL REVIEW ARTICLES:  While they can be cited directly, if you use these reviews in your essay or final research paper, the purpose of these very lengthy review articles is to encapsulate and briefly summarize a large quantity of other existing published academic articles or books covering subtopics for whatever the particular annual review article explores.  Therefore, these can be superb tools for deliberately selecting some of what an annual review article cites and then tracking down those cited sources here at SU (contact the librarian if hitting a roadblock when doing that)

 If you locate a review article of interest, in addition to boosting your background knowledge to enhance effectiveness of searches you conduct in other places - you can use the Library website's journal locator, classic catalog or SUMMON search engine to determine if any of the individual sources cited within a pertinent Annual Review are available here at SU.  Or if not, request that item via Interlibrary Loan.  Be selective and see what you can uncover.



Some additional specific non-circulating books at Bird Library:

Encyclopedia of International Relations and Global Politics / Martin Griffiths, editor
Bird-2nd Floor-Reference
JZ1160 E53 2005

Globalization and Security : an encyclopedia/ G. Honor Fagan and Ronaldo Munck, editors
Bird-2nd Floor -Circulating Collection, 2 vols
D763.M47 G56 2009

Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace / Nigel Young
Bird-2nd Floor-Reference
JZ5533 O95 2010

Human Rights Encyclopedia / foreword by Aung San Suu Kyi ; editors James R. Lewis, Carl Skutsch.
Bird-2nd Floor-Reference, 3 vols
JC571 .L523 2001

Resort to War : A data guide to inter-state, extra-state, intra-state, and non-state wars, 1816-2007 / Meredith Reid Sarkees and Frank Whelon Wayman
Bird-4th Floor-Circulating Collection
JZ6385 S27 2010

U.S. conflicts in the 21st century : Afghanistan War, Iraq War, and the War on Terror / Spencer C. Tucker, editor ; Paul G. Pierpaoli Jr., associate editor.
Bird-3rd Floor-Circulating Collection, 3 Vols.

E897 .U17 2016

The Oxford encyclopedia of American military and diplomatic history / Timothy J. Lynch, editor in chief.
E181 .O95 2013
ebook-2 volumes

The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization/George Ritzer
Bird-2nd Floor - Reference, 5 vols.
JZ1318 W543 2012


Not unlike "Annual Reviews" Oxford Handbooks are substantial and in depth scholarly reference books that cover a great many of topics and subtopics you explore in this PSC 400 course.  Because these sources go into even greater detail than Annual Reviews, when entering a search word or phrase into this database, many also may have luck if they enter the name of specific country or region, in combination with other terms, such as "humanitarian," "foreign aid," "humanitarian intervention," "development aid," "military intervention," etc.  Again, similar to the Annual Reviews, these can be cited directly.  They are quite in-depth, lengthy reading - but they pull together discussion that otherwise might be scattered across dozens, or hundreds of other article and book sources.  One efficient way to use them is as a reference source, following specific citations mentioned - to locate source material (other scholarly books or articles) on those topics:

Audiovisual Sources (News Reports)

Vanderbilty University T V News Archive Logo

Anyone with interest in looking at some historical U.S. broadcast TV news coverage  is not limited to the idiosyncracies of YouTube.  For any PSC 400 student seeking to viewing some archived U.S televised news reports about news worthy events covered in this PSC 400 course, or related to a focus of your research, Both CNN (1995-present) and NBC News video (1968-present) can be viewed directly online- via the  SU Libraries licensed database called - TELEVISION NEWS ARCHIVE (SEARCH KEYWORDS, OR BROWSE BY AIRDATE). Interested in original language news reports from other countries, although extent of the archive varies by country, and excellent database containing non-U.S. news broadcasts and some additional categories of non-news programming is SCOLA