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This guide includes tips on how to effectively and efficiently search for HR-related books and journal articles in the SFU Library's collection. Use this guide as a starting point for your research, but remember that there are many more sources than those listed here.
If you need assistance using the resources mentioned in this guide or finding further/alternative sources, please don't hesitate to ask for help. Visit the help desk at any of our campus libraries, or contact our reference librarians by telephone/chat/email via our Ask a Librarian services.
Before searching the databases, analyze your topic and break it down into concepts. Think of synonyms, broader terms, and narrower terms for each idea. Your research will be more successful if you think of several synonyms for the words in your topic. You may also want to use terms that are broader or narrower as you refine your topic.
When searching library catalogues or other databases, use truncation symbols to find all variations of a term.
The asterisk (*) is the most common truncation symbol. It's used by many of the databases available through the SFU Library. For example, the Library Catalogue, Business Source Complete, and PsycInfo all use it. A search for "employ* " in any of these databases will result in items containing any of the following: employee, employment, employer, and employed.
Boolean operators allow you to combine terms to narrow or broaden your database searches.
- AND requires BOTH terms to be found in search results
- OR requires EITHER term to be found in search results
- NOT eliminates term(s) from search results
Sample Search Question
- Topic: What are the current HRM practices in Japan?
- Concepts: human resources AND japan*
- Synonyms: (personnel OR human resource management) AND (asia or japan)
To find books and reports in the SFU Library, search the Library Catalogue by KEYWORD or SUBJECT using the terms analyzed from your topic. It's always a good idea to search first by KEYWORD. SUBJECT searching is more precise, but you might miss useful titles if you don't search the exact subject heading(s) used by the Catalogue or other databases.
For example, if you do a KEYWORD search for human resource* japan, the system will look for any book or report that has those three words in its title, author names, subjects, or notes. The three words don't have to be together and you may get some completely unrelated items -- you could get a book published in Japan about the huge amount of resources that humans use! Nevertheless, some of the search results will probably be relevant and you can use the subject headings from those items to refine your search.
Examine the subject headings of the items that you get from your search for human resource* japan. You'll find that some of your search results have such subjects as Comparative Industrial Relations, Employees -- Training of -- Japan, Personnel management -- Japan -- Case studies, and Personnel management -- Japan.
Although it is certainly possible to use the broad Library Search feature on the SFU Library Homepage to find articles, that approach is not very efficient when you need to find key articles on a topic. It's almost always better to use a more subject-focused database, such as those below.
Business Source Complete
Business Source Complete (BSC) covers academic journals and magazines in all business areas, including many major HR-focused publications such as Human Resource Management Journal and Personnel Psychology.
A few common HRM-related subject headings to start you off:
- personnel management
- industrial relations
- employees - recruiting
- quality of work life
- diversity in the workplace
- employee relations programs
- job evaluation
- supervision of employees
PsycInfo is the main journal article index for any topic that involves psychology, and many HR topics would fit that description. It covers such academic business journals as the Journal of Vocational Behavior and the Journal of Applied Psychology.
A few HRM-related subjects to start you off:
- human resource management
- organizational effectiveness
- organizational behavior
- management personnel
- job performance
- employee attitudes
- personnel training
Moving beyond business-focused databases
Covers such academic sources as Social Science Research; Work, Employment and Society; Journal of Applied Behavioral Science; and Human Relations.
Covers such academic sources as Training & Development; Performance Improvement Quarterly; Human Resource Development Quarterly; and the Journal of Career Development.
The Moving from citation to article guide explains how to find the actual article(s) after you have searched the periodical indexes.
- This is a sample list of some key publications in the HR field. See your assignment and talk to your instructor to confirm which journals are acceptable for your paper.
- For a clear discussion of the difference between scholarly and non-scholarly sources, see What is a scholarly journal?
- You might want to scan recent online copies of a few of these journals to get ideas for potential topics.
Examples of acceptable journals -- search for them by title in the Library Catalogue's A-Z List of Journals:
- Academy of Management Journal
- Academy of Management Review
- Organization Science
- Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences
- Human Resource Management
- Human Resource Management Journal
- Human Resource Management Review
- Industrial and Labor Relations Review
- Industrial Relations/Relations Industrielles
- Journal of Applied Psychology
- Journal of Management
- Journal of Organizational Behavior
- Journal of Managerial Psychology
- Personnel Psychology
- Journal of Occupational Health Psychology
- Journal of Vocational Behavior
- Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
- Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
- Harvard Business Review
- Academy of Management Executive
- Human Relations
- European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
- Organizational Psychology Review
- Journal of Applied Social Psychology
BUS 272 (Organizational Behaviour) has significant overlap with the resources used for BUS 381. A quick viewing of this 6.5-minute video on key research skills Only 4 Steps: Researching in academic business journals will give you a solid foundation for your BUS 381 assignment.
Detailed discussions of the criteria to use when looking at any information source can be found in How to critically evaluate sources.
Research is only half the battle!
You also need to communicate your findings in a clear, well-structured paper. Check the SFU Library guide to Business writing and the SFU Student Learning Commons resources for Writing for university for resources to help with paper structures, grammar, spelling, and more.
You need to correctly cite all of the resources that you used in your research.
Some of our article indexes (e.g., Business Source Complete and PsycInfo) can create APA-formatted citations for the articles you find. However, some of those auto-generated citations contain errors, so you still need to take the time to learn how to properly format your citations.
Learning how to properly credit others when you use their ideas is a difficult, but important part of your research. Start with the Library's interactive tutorial Understanding and avoiding plagiarism to test yourself and to learn more about plagiarism. Also, read the Library guide on plagiarism for further discussion of this critical topic and for links to other plagiarism guides.