Finding resources

 Where to find resources

Finding publications on the open web 

More and more, governments, scholars, corporations, non-profits, and others are making their publications freely accessible on the open web, including scholarly articles, reports, and primary source materials.

So depending on your topic you may be able to do at least some of your academic research with a basic search engine, in addition to accessing scholarly resources through the Library's electronic journal and database subscriptions.

Because it's easy for anyone to publish anything online, it's more important than ever to know how to evaluate the reliability and credibility of what you read and view. 

And when a basic search can return millions of results, it's helpful to know some advanced search techniques to help you find the right resources -- and filter out what you don't need. 

Finding books, journal articles, background information, and more at the Library

Looking for Library materials? Start with Library Search to look for Library materials, including tips and guides created by librarians -- or dive into Library research tutorials and guides for self-paced tutorials, search strategies, and more. 

The Library Catalogue search guide will help you get started finding books, journal articles, and more available in the Library's collections and via subscription -- and includes advanced tips for power searchers.

 Search techniques

Almost all search engine searches are keyword searches, and search engines will often search for synonyms or related terms at the same time. Use your initial search to learn additional terms you can use in future searches, on the web, in the Library Catalogue, or in the Library's article databases

For more focussed searches, and to reduce the number of irrelevant results, try one of these techniques:

Phrase searching

To search for exact names, quotes, and other phrases, try placing quotation marks around your search terms. For example:

"fat tax"

This search will find Web resources in which the exact phrase "fat tax" appears.

Combined searching

You can also search for combinations of keywords and phrases. For example:

"fat tax" Canada

This search will find resources in which the phrase "fat tax" and the word Canada appear.

Other tips

 Google Scholar

Google Scholar allows you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports. Many resources found in Google Scholar are available for free online or through SFU's paid subscriptions. Enter Google Scholar via the Library (you can also find it at SFU Library's Databases page) to search, then use the citation information to search the Library Catalogue for the resource itself.  

Need help? See From citation to article for more details, or Ask a librarian.

Tips for searching Google Scholar

For tips including searching by author or publication, restricting the article by date, and other techniques, see SFU Library's Search tips for Google and Google Scholar and Google's Advanced Scholar Tips

 Evaluating sources

See Evaluating sources for:

  • quick tips for fact-checking
  • links to more in-depth strategies and resources.