I get a lot of students who are studying specific countries through international development, conflict resolution and other courses.
Here is my best set of web sources based on 1000s of scrambles.
I have crosschecked my experience with other librarian's favourites and other authorities.
I have verified that the links are currently working.
I have tried to group them in quality, logical and scope order (from broadest to most narrow)
ELDIS Regional & Country Profiles (developing countries only)
Portals to the World (Library of Congress)
Contains selective links providing authoritative, in-depth information about the nations and other areas of the world. Arranged by country or area with the links for each sorted into a wide range of broad categories.
Nations Online - http://www.nationsonline.org/
Comprehensive portal to sites in various countries throughout the world.
Country Reports http://www.countryreports.org/
BBC country profiles
CIA World Factbook
Country Studies - Area Handbook Program (Library of Congress) (often dated)
World statistics (by country)
OFFSTATS - Offical statistics on the web
a massive central data source and a handy way to graphically compare nations
World in Figures table package contains 28 Excel tables of country-specific structural data on all the countries of the world. The number of countries is 241 and themes 253. The data can be found easily by means of a separate index.
Atlapedia Online contains full color physical maps, political maps as well as key facts and statistics on countries of the world
National Geographic Xpedition Maps - Printable page-size black & white maps
Governments on the WWW
Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments
World Audit Reports - Democratic profiles using Freedom House rankings.
International Crisis Group
The ICG is an independent, non-profit, multinational organisation, with 90 staff members on five continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.
Sources of International and Foreign Law in English: JaneWilliams
Elections Around the World - Includes data going back to 1995
The World Bank Group - Countries & Regions
International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Country Information
World Economic Forum Competitiveness Profile Rankings
Index of Economic Freedom - From the Heritage Foundation
Country profiles from a Canadian perspective
Permanent Missions to the United Nations
Armed Forces of the World (UK Ministry of Defense)
Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. Use Google Scholar to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web. (from http://scholar.google.com/scholar/about.html#about)
While Google Scholar is freely available to anyone connected to the Internet, many full-text results are not freely available to all. Some of this full-text content may be available to members of the UWinnipeg community. Google Scholar has been added to our proxy service. Off-campus UWinnipeg researchers should definitely use the proxy-prefixed link and login to our proxy service with their UWinnipeg Library barcode to make sure they're accessing all the subscription material they'd be able to access when on-campus.
To understand the importance of the proxy service in accessing subscription publications from off-campus, visit http://scholar.google.com/ and enter author:andrews lysistrata peace sex politics as a search and try accessing the article; then try accessing this article via our proxy service by visiting http://cybrary.uwinnipeg.ca/proxy.cfm?url=http://scholar.google.com/ and repeating your search and accessing the article -- the difference: free and immediate access and a big savings ($37.95 US)! A proxy-prefixed link is currently available to Google Scholar from Cybrary under Find > Google > Google Scholar and will be added to our Find > Articles and Databases pages this week. Following these links from the Cybrary Web site and Library Catalogue, especially when off-campus, UWinnipeg scholars can be sure they have maximum access to any UWinnipeg subscription found in the search results.
Of course maximum access is relative and may be a bit misleading in terms of the Google Scholar search interface. One advantage many of our subscription databases have over Google Scholar is custom configuration especially for cross-linking. Many of the UWinnipeg databases are GODOT enabled. The Where can I get this? Ask GODOT button/link/graphic seen in many of our index and abstract and partial full-text databases provide links to full-text objects which may be in other databases to which we subscribe. It also points to print or microform collections which still exist and our available in our collections. If no results are available from UWinnipeg Library, the GODOT results page provides a Request an InterLibrary Loan link, which allows the citation data to be passed to a InterLibrary Loan/Document Delivery request form which will allow UWinnipeg scholars to request the item from another institution usually within a couple days at no cost to them. While not all of our databases are GODOT-enabled and Google Scholar certainly provides multiple sources, UWinnipeg scholars are getting maximum access for no cost to them with our service (and despite Google Scholar's response to But I need the article now and the library is closed for Founder's Day, Libraries know that information comes with a cost and are always looking at minimizing cost while maximizing access to quality resources).
There are advantages and disadvantages to using a generalized search tool. Google Scholar falls into the category of being generalized and has no clear scope as to what domains of knowledge it is is indexing. Using an index and abstract database such as EconLit, which is a comprehensive database of Economics literature, adding the keyword/concept economics would be redundant and would be assumed given the knowlege domain that is indexed, however, in a generalized database such a keyword may quite likely be required. Even in a Google search interface, the results may be very poor or unexpected depending on the topic and the search terms used. Developing and revising search strategies and providing alternative terms and tips for searching particular databases is commonplace in Libraries. Many of our databases have links to our LiveHelp virtual reference service which allow scholars to connect with reference staff and get assistance with revising their search strategy. One advantage certainly with a generalized database is the ability to discover content that may be directly related to a topic or knowledge domain, but still of interest from a multidisciplinary standpoint. Google Search, like any other interface will require interaction and time to get familiar with. Certainly, Google's design and search algorithms have shown itself superior to many other search engines in the past and Google Scholar will likely become an important research tool. As with any search tool, however, scholars need to be aware of limitations and need to critically evaluate their results and look for ways to improve their search and get as much as possible that is meaningful and relevant without missing anything critical...and they sometimes need a helpful second opinion.
The world of scholarly publishing and publishing in general has changed and is continuing to change dramatically: it is both an exciting and frustrating time for all researchers and scholars. While ePublications can provide instant access, many collections are fractured in other non-eAccessible formats such as print journals and books as well as microform (Google Scholar even highlights this issue with citations to books located in Library catalogues). While Google Scholar may be seen as duplicating our index and abstract databases especially as these only provide citations to the non-subscriber just as Google Scholar, it is a tool that is freely available and it will be interesting to see which publishers will allow Google to harvest data and which publishers will contest it (under copyright and IP policies). Many commercially available subscription index and abstract databases for which Libraries still pay a significant amount could become obsolete and Libraries may cancel their subscription to many of them and free up much needed budget money for other collection and resource priorities. Nevertheless, competition may also lead to better products from commercial database vendors with many new tools and features. For now Google Scholar is certainly a new tool worth looking at, but whether it proves useful depends on the results.
(links provided by Paul Nielson)
Google Scholar vs. Real Scholarship
Big News: "Google Scholar" is Born
By Shirl Kennedy and Gary Price