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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 essay writing

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

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?

Identify key concepts

Create A Concept Map using the 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 an asterisk (*) the truncation symbol for variation on the endings of words (child* will find: child, children, childless, childlike). Although "$, ?, *, !" are common truncation symbols, most use an 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 ________)
  • NOTE: SFU Library "Catalogue Search", to combine terms, use capital "OR, and capital "AND"

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.

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 pulldown 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*)

Other topics:

You can limit "Resource Type" to "Books"

  • 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 Library guide
  If fulltext of article is not within the database, click on the "Get@SFU" to start a search for it.  If the Library doesnot provide access, then use the Citation Finder/ILL tab to request a copy from another library (free).

    Sociology / Anthropology perspectives

    Canadian topics

    Other 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