POLS 063:
African Politics


Sarah Elichko / Social Sciences Librarian
September 21, 2017

I once asked YouTube’s news director...how long it took for footage of significant events to be uploaded to the platform.

"Usually under an hour," she said.
Because it is almost mundane to us now, we
forget how striking it is....in about one generation, we have gone from a world in which cameras were a rarity in many places to one in which billions are connected, almost instantly.

(Zeynep Tufekci, Twitter and Tear Gas)

People on Facebook...communicate with those who are not on the site by sharing what they saw online with friends and family through other means: face-to-face conversation, texting, or telephone.
Only a segment of the population needs to be connected digitally to affect the entire environment.

(Zeynep Tufekci, Twitter and Tear Gas)

Today's research workshop:

• Information management

• Using news & social media for research

• Identifying relevant scholarship



• Organizing ideas + research materials

• Collaborating effectively

Information Management

Go to coggle.it

Individually, brainstorm some possible ideas and angles for your research. Use Coggle to record.


(In a few minutes, we'll have time for discussion.)

Information Management

With your group, share your research maps.

Discuss areas of overlap and difference in how you've been thinking about possible directions for your project.

Using news & social media for research

• Tools for monitoring social media

• International, national, local

News & Social Media

"In the overwhelming majority of newspapers across the continent, news about the rest of Africa comes via the usual sources, principally Reuters, the Associated Press, Agence France Presse (AFP) and the BBC."

- Simon Allison, The Guardian (2013)

News & Social Media

Go to Google News and search for your country.

Go to AllAfrica.com and go to the section for your country.

Search Google for:
your country name newspapers

Focus on the sources included in each. What do you notice?

News & Social Media

Compare recent social media posts with coverage in news outlets:

• Keep your news results open.

• Go to Trends24 and look up your country

   (or try a major city).

• How much overlap is there?  

• What else do you notice?

Identifying relevant scholarly research

• Practices for intentional searching

• Research tools focused on African Studies    and Political Science

Identifying research

"The search terms I have chosen   encode a tacit hypothesis..."  

Importance of searching intentionally

​- Ted Underwood, "Theorizing Research Practices We Forgot to Theorize 20 Years Ago"

Identifying research

Go to the Research Guide, then to Research Tools.


Click the S next to ProQuest Social Sciences (database)


Keeping your keyword the same, compare results for:
- Anywhere search
​- Anywhere except full text (ALL)
- Subject search 

Identifying research

Keep a list of search terms


Consider what search elements you can modify to improve your results:

- Date

- Subject / Location

- Type of source (journal, magazine)

- Research tool


Re-sort results to get a different view

Consider the relevant historical factors:

  • What are the origins of the issue/problem?  (When?)

  • Is this history contested?


Assess the political nature of the issue of focus:

  • What are the interests and policies of the most

     influential actors?
  • Whose interests may be marginalized? Under-represented?

Use research tools from guide to explore your topics further.  Share what you find with other group members.