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SA 100: Perspectives on Canadian Society

Contact Info

For Library research help, please contact Moninder Lalli, Librarian for Sociology / Anthropology by email () or Ask a librarian.

Library Guides & Help with Writing Essays

Steps in the process

At the start

  1. Think about your topic and
  2. Look for background information (encyclopedias, handbooks, introductory texts).
  3. Formulate a research question
  4. Brainstorm about keywords for each concept for your topic
  5. Create a search strategy before entering words into the search engine(s)
  6. Make a note of any key authors or references (citations)

Research question

What is the effect of the Anti-terrorism Act and how is it used for national security?


Brainstorm about your question.   

  • Why was it introduced?
  • When did it come into effect?
  • How has it been applied by the police or Canada's Border Agency? 
  • What is the effect on people?
  • Has any particular group been the focus or target or has there been racial profiling?
  • Has it affected people's rights?

Identify Key Concepts

Create A Concept Map using the worksheet

Concept Map Worksheet

Concept 1 Concept 2 Concept 3 Concept 4 Concept 5
anit-terror* act canad* islamic human right*
Related Terms Related Terms Related Terms Related Terms Related Terms
border security law or laws or regulations federal* racial profil* civil rights
national security legislat* provinc* "people of color" deten* or detain*
public safety policy or policies      


Search Tips & Techniques

  • Use "or" to combine same concept;   Use "and" to combine different concepts.  
    • Use asterisk (*) the truncation symbol, for variation on endings of words (child* will find: child, children, childless, childlike).           "$, ?, *, !" are common truncation symbols. Most use asterisk.
    • Use "quotation marks" to search for an exact phrase
  • When using one line search box, also put braces "()" around your synonyms.  E.g. (elderly or seniors or aged)
  • Alternate spellings: use American/Canadian spelling (honour or honor).  Use abbreviations and full words (TV or television)
  • Geographic concepts: Specific to broader ( Vancouver or BC or British Columbia or Canada or North America)
  • Alternate terms: Subject headings/Descriptors/Thesauri words (youth or adolescents or teenagers or young adults);
    • Thesauri words increase relevancy.
  • If there is only "one-line search box", try using combining different concepts in the following way:
    • (____________ or __________) AND (__________ or ________)


Selected encyclopedias

Get an overview of a topic.  Use encyclopedias, handbooks or textbook for overviews, definitions, and to identify key authors and ideas.  

General Reference

Subject-Specific Encyclopedias

Other encyclopedias

Find Books in the Library

Search the SFU Library Catalogue: Advanced keyword

For help, see the Library Guide,  "How to use the Library Catalogue".

Search for Topics Using Key Words

Keywords To Consider:

  • canad* AND society AND (race OR racism OR ethnic*)
  • Canad* and immigr* and (visible minorit* or ethnic*)
  • canad* and government* and policy and immigr*
  • canad* and society and social policy
  • foreign work* and canad* and governm*
  • seasonal work* and canad* and governm*
  • social assistance and Canada and policy
  • live-in care and canad*
  • Anti-Terrorism Act
  • (anti-terror* or national security or border security)
    (law or legislat* or regulat*)
    (race or racial or islam*)
    (human rights or detain* or deten*)
  • The Indian Act

Sample search:

Canad* AND society AND (race OR racism OR ethnic*)

book jacket To right historical wrongs : race, gender, and sentencing in Canada

Subject Headings:

Subject Discrimination in criminal justice administration -- Canada.
  Prison sentences -- Canada.
  Indigenous peoples -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Canada.
  Minorities -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Canada.
  Reparations for historical injustices -- Canada.
  Race discrimination -- Canada.
  Canada -- Race relations.


Tip: For additional books on the same topic, click on the subject headings.

Browse Books in the Library Catalogue Using Subject Headings

Tip: For a really long list of books under a specific subject heading, press: Limit/Sort by "newest first"

Find Journal Articles in Databases

  • How to Find Journal Articles.
    • "Where Can I Get This?"  will search for print or electronic version of the item.  If SFU Library does not own it, then request a copy through the Document Delivery Service (free).

Canadian topics

Sociology / Anthropology perspectives

Other databases


Directories of Websites

File attachments / images