SA 200W OL01: Power Conflict and Change in Canadian Society

Research help

This guide will provide assistance with finding scholarly material to support the research paper assignment.  For Library research help, please contact Moninder Lalli, Librarian for Sociology / Anthropology by email ( or Ask a librarian.

This guide was previously (prior to Sept 2022) published as SA 100.

Services for Distance Education students

Consult the guide Services for Distance Education students if you are off campus.


Start Your Research Here - This page gives you an overview of the research process, or in other words how to find materials for your essay.

Sample 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. E. g. Ask questions such as:

  • 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      

Selected encyclopedias and handbooks

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. 

Tip:  Check out the Further Reading lists at the end of each encyclopedia entry for citations to key works on that topic!

For more, try, "Background information - Anthropology" and "Background information - Sociology"

Find books in the Library

Catalogue search will find books, journal articles, videos, government reports and more.  After doing a search, you can limit your search results by "Resource type" of "Books."  

Library Catalogue search guide

Search the SFU Library Catalogue

   You can also use  SFU Library Catalogue: Advanced Search

Search for books by a specific author

Use Catalogue Search: Advanced keyword

Any Field: Author    Contains: Marx, Karl    Resource type: Books

Search for books on a topic

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) AND (law OR legislat* OR regulat*) AND (race OR racial OR islam*) AND canad*

    Limit search results (left-hand column) by "Resource type" of "books", and by "Subjects" (Canada, Canada. Human Rights Act)

More examples:

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

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

Look at the titles in the "results list" and for those books that look relevant, click on their subject headings to find more books on that topic.


Browse by subject

Browse by Subject    (change the default "title" to "subject").  Browse by Subject will only result in books, not book chapters or journal articles.

Find journal articles

For journal articles, it is useful to search within the databases for the discipline for which your are writing your essay.  It is a great way to find the current theories and critical debates. 

If the articles are not be available full-text, then use the "Get@SFU" icon to see if the Library has the journal. For journals  not owned by the Library, use the Citation Finder/ILL tab to request a copy of the article from another library (free).

For additional help, refer to the How to find journal articles, What is a scholarly journal? [guide], Finding articles: Advanced search techniques [video 3:13 mins]

    Sociology and Anthropology databases

    Tip: Limit search results to "scholarly", "academic", "peer-reviewed" articles.  You may also want to "sort" to view the "newest first"

    Canadian topics

    • CBCA Complete  - scholarly and popular journal articles for Canadian topics.  Limit the results to "scholarly."
    • Canada Commons (formerly, Canadian Electronic Library from desLibris) - for public policy documents from Canadian institutes, think-tanks and research groups.
    • Canadian Newsstream - covers the major Canadian daily newspapers.
    • Canadian Research Index - Canadian government publications.

    Other databases

    More Sociology Databases, Anthropology Databases

    Selected journals

    Both of the "annual review" journals (below) are useful to find literature reviews of anthropological and sociological topics.


    Statistics Canada is the major statistical agency for Canada but useful statistics can also be found on individual federal, provincial and municipal government department sites.

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

    Useful websites

    Below are some useful websites. 

    Search tips for Google and Google Scholar

    Search tips and techniques

    • Use "or" to combine same concept
    • Use "and" to combine different concepts
    • Use "quotation marks" to search for an exact phrase
    • Use asterisk (*) the truncation symbol, for variation on endings of words (work* will find: work, works, worker, working, workforce, etc.)
    • For Abbreviations, also use full names: ILO or "international labour organization"
    • Search Tips for Google and Google Scholar
      • Use intitle: to force Google to find those words in the titles of results.  Use quotation marks ("") to search for phrases
        • intitle:"airport security"
      • Use filetype: to tell Google to find certain filetypes
        • filetype:pdf
      • Use site: to specify results from a government web site
        • "Airport security”  site:gov

    Library guides

    Writing help

    Selected resources on writing essays: