SA 100 Perspectives on Canadian Society

If you need help, please contact Moninder Bubber, Liaison Librarian at 778.782.4264 or or Ask a librarian.

Class Outline: Perspectives on Canadian Society



Back to top

Concept Map

Search Strategies -

Identifying Key Concepts:

Before you start researching your topic, sit back and think about what you want to write about. If you don't have an assigned topic, it's sometimes easier to create one by asking a question. For example:

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

Brainstorm.  Break down your topic into concepts or keywords.  Ask questions:

  • 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?
  • etc.

Library Research Concepts Worksheet (Concept Map / Keywords)

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 profi* civil right*
national security legislat* provin* color or colour deten* or detain*
public safety policy or policies      
Back to top

Starting From a Citation

If you find a citation for an article or a book, and you'd like to track it down, try the Citation Finder or use the Library Catalogue to search for your reference / citation. If not in the Library, use the Inter-library Loans form to request it. 

Library Catalogue can be found under  "Books, journals, media (catalogue), below the "Find" (4th) column

  • If a journal article ---> search for name of journal (e.g. does the Library subscribe to MacLeans, Time, etc.)
  • If a book chapter ---> search for "author/editor"  of the book (not the "author of the chapter") OR  "title" of the book (not the chapter")

Below are some citation examples:

Example 1 - Chapter in a Book (look for the clue "in")

Dacks, Gurston. (2003). "Reinventing Governance in the North." In Reinventing Canada : Politics of the 21st Century (eds) Janine Brodie and Linda Trimble. Toronto: Prentice Hall, pp.204-216.

Author (Last name, First name). Year of Publication. Title of the chapter. (editors) Place of Publication: Publisher, page numbers.

To locate print or electronic copies of the book, try the Citation Finder (choose "book" in the pulldown menu). You can also search for the book's title in the Library Catalogue by Title  ("Reinventing Canada: politics of the 21st century) --  to find print, electronic and microform formats.

Example 2 - Article in a Journal

Marchak, M. P. (1988). What happens when common property becomes uncommon? BC Studies, (80), 3.

Author (Last name, Initials). Year of Publication. Title of the article. Title of the Journal. Volume number, page number.

To locate print or electronic copies of the articles, try the Citation Finder. You can also search for a journal's title (B.C. Studies) in the Library Catalogue by  the Journal title link to find print, electronic and microform versions of that journal.

Back to top

Background information

An overview or summary from a general source such as an encyclopedia, handbook or textbook provides background, definitions, key ideas, and key authors. An overview will help focus your research. These types of sources often include a list of related books and articles for further reading.  Your textbook, Custom Courseware, and List of Readings (in the course syllabus) will provide much background information. In addition, see some of the following sources:

Other encyclopedias

Back to top

Search techniques

Before searching the Library catalogue and other databases, define your topic - narrowing it or broadening it, if necessary.  Once you have defined your topic, analyze it, breaking it down into  CONCEPTS or KEYWORDS. Think of synonyms for each idea.  Tip:  in order to get the best terms for your search, think of the title of the ideal article or book for your topic.  Use keywords from this title and synonyms for those keywords in your search.

When you search the library catalogue or article indexes, use TRUNCATION symbols to find all variations of a term.
     "$, ?, *, !" are common truncation symbols.  * is used in most searches.

BOOLEAN OPERATORS allow you to combine terms to narrow or broaden your database searches.

         AND requires BOTH terms to be found in search results (use this for finding two or more concepts)
         OR requires EITHER term to be found in search results (use this for finding synonyms)
         NOT eliminates term(s) from search results (be careful, you may eliminate worthwhile articles with NOT)
Modify your search terms as you search the databases and become aware of new terms to describe your topic. Look at the subject headings or descriptors used.  For example, the SFU Library Catalogue sometimes uses the term "youth" but other books can be found under the subject heading "young adults".
Be careful of spelling - most databases use American spelling - but you should try both versions (i.e. honour, honor or organization, organization)

Back to top

Find books

Ways to search SFU and other BC collections

1) FastSearch Tab, from the search box from home page, and

2) Library Catalogue, under link, "Books, Media" from home page. 

SFU Library

SFU Library Fast Search

New! What is Fast Search? | SFU Library - both books and articles


  • canad* AND society AND (race OR racism OR ethnic*)
  • Canad* AND immigr* AND ( visible minorit* OR ethnic*)
  • canad*  AND government*  AND policy  AND immigr*

- In the FastSearch engine, make sure the "boolean" connector words (AND, OR) are in "capital" letters.

- asterisk at the end of a root word picks up various endings of that word.  E.g. canad* will pick up "Canada", "Canadian", "Canadians", "Canadien", etc.
- use the "subject" listing in the left hand column to narrow your topic.

Back to top


Books - Searching via Library Catalogue

You can search by author (last name first, then first name):

You can search for topics

Use the Library Catalogue to find materials owned by SFU. 

Use the Advanced keyword search

  • 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
Back to top

Subject Headings

From the search results of a "keyword" search, look at the relevant book titles, and examine their "subject headings" more closely.  You can click on these headings to find similar books on the topic.

Back to top

Find articles

From the Library's Home page, under the column "Find", select "Journal articles & databases" and then use the pull down menu under "Browse databases by subject" to obtain listing by subject/discipline (e.g. Anthropology, Sociology, etc.).

In some cases you will be able to read journal articles or print/email them at your computer.  However,  you may find references to articles which aren't available online.  In these cases, the Library may have its own subscription to the journal and you can make a photocopy of it here.  Use this tool to locate print and online access to articles. From Citation to Article

Canadian topics

  • CBCA Full Text Reference : CBCA indexes popular and business magazines, and scholarly journals, and the Globe and Mail and National Post newspapers and is equivalent to the Canadian business index, Canadian magazine index and Canadian index. CBCA provides comprehensive coverage of Canadian topics, including business, politics, literature, history and news events.
  • Canadian Points of View Reference Centre 
  • is a full-text database designed to provide students with a series of essays that present multiple sides of a current issue
  • Canadian Public Policy Collection-- Full text of public policy documents from Canadian institutes, think-tanks and research groups.since you are searching fulltext, you can search for very specific concepts: "credential*" or "foreign trained"
  • Canadian Research Index - provides links to Canadian government publications (federal, provincial), parliamentary committees, royal commission reports, etc.
  • Canadian Newsstand
  • Covers the major Canadian dailies, including the Vancouver Sun.
  • Globe and Mail Newspaper (1991 to current)

Other databases

  • Sociological Abstracts : Sociological aspects of twenty-nine broad topics, including anthropology, business, collective behaviour, community development, disaster studies, education, environmental studies, gender studies, gerontology, law and penology, marriage and family studies, medicine and health, racial interactions, social psychology, social work, sociological theory, stratification, substance abuse, urban studies, and violence
  • Social Sciences Full Text
  • For a general, multi-disciplinary database.
  • Index to all aspects of criminal justice, including psychological.
  • Women Studies International Covers information from 1972 onwards. Provides abstracts from journals in women's studies covering topics such as sex roles and discrimination, family, and employment 
  • Academic Search Premier - Multidisciplinary index to academic & popular journals.
  • Bibliography of Native North Americans - Covers all aspects of Native North American culture, history, and life and including topics such as archaeology, multicultural relations, gaming, governance, legend, and literacy.
  • Google Scholar
Back to top


Statistics are collected by a variety of agencies and organisations on a variety of topics.   After collection, the data is processed and packaged for publication.  Part of the processing involves grouping the data (i.e. age groupings such as 15-19).

Statistics (sources)

  • Canadian Research Index  - Search for Canadian federal, provincial and local government publications, including Statistics Canada publications. The library owns a microfiche copy of the documents as part of the Microlog microfiche collection on the 6th floor of the Bennett library.  Use the "Microlog number" listed in the database.
Back to top

Directories of Websites

Back to top

Writing Essays

Back to top