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SA 100: Perspectives on Canadian Society

Research help

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

This guide will provide assistance with finding scholarly material to support the research paper assignment. 

Steps in the process

  1. Think about your topic
  2. Look for background information (encyclopedias, handbooks, introductory texts).
  3. Formulate research question(s)
  4. Brainstorm about keywords for each concept for your topic
  5. Create a "Concept Map" for your topic
  6. Create a "search strategy" before entering words into the search engine(s)
  7. Find books and articles
  8. Evaluate sources
  9. Write your paper
  10. Cite your sources

Research question

Formulate a question, such as: 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?

Create a "Concept Map"

Identify key concepts and create a "Concept Map" (Concept Map Worksheet). 

This will assist you with combining keywords in a logical manner.    


Concept 1 Concept 2 Concept 3 Concept 4 Concept 5
anti-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      

Find background information

Get an overview of a topic by using encyclopedias, handbooks or textbook.  These types of resources identify key authors, theories and  important resources on a topic.  See side tab to this guide, "Background information.

Find books in the Library

Library Catalogue search guide | Catalogue search tips

Search the SFU Library Catalogue: Advanced keyword

Combine different concepts using AND
Combine same concepts using OR
quotation marks to search for a phrase
Use brackets for synonyms
Use asterisk (*) for different endings of words

Use pull-down menu and select, "Source Types" as "Books"

Note:  For Catalogue Search, when combining concepts, use CAPITAL letters ( "OR", "AND")


Research question: "What is the effect of the Anti-terrorism Act and how is it used for national security"

(anti-terror* OR national security OR border security)
(law OR legislat* OR regulat*)
(race OR racial OR islam*)

Another example:

  • canad* AND (race OR racial* or racism)  
    • Look at the titles in the "results list" and for those books that look relevant, click on their subject headings.
  • canad* AND government AND [your topic word]

Browse by subject

Catalogue Search / Browse

Change "Title" to "Subject" and enter:

Find journal articles in databases

For help, refer to the How to find journal articles

What is a scholarly journal? [guide]

Finding articles: Advanced search techniques [video 3:13 mins]

Searching the "Databases for a discipline" is a great strategy to view articles that have been written within the scholarly journals of that discipline. 

If full-text of article is not available from within the database, click on the "Get@SFU" to start a search.  If the Library does not provide access, then use the Citation Finder/ILL tab to request a copy from another library (free).

    Sociology / Anthropology perspectives

    Canadian topics

    Selected other

    More Sociology Databases

    Selected journals


    • Statistics Canada
      • Check out their pre-tabulated data tables under "statistics by subject." 
      • Check out the 2016 Census.  Try comparing 2016 Census with figures for Canada and Vancouver CMA.  This data can be downloaded (CSV format) into Excel. 
      • In addition to "data", check out their "Analysis" and other reports (see tabs at the top of the data tables).
      • Publications by subject

    Citing Government documents, Canadian - APA style | MLA style | Chicago style

    Directories of websites

    Library guides & writing help