CMPT 322W: Library research guide

This web page is intended to help you with your CMPT 322W assignments. 

If you need help, please contact Holly Hendrigan, Liaison Librarian, Faculty of Applied Sciences at 778.782.8023 or or Ask a librarian.

Slides available from the Fall 2019 library research workshop.

Getting started

Identify your research topic

For your scholarly analysis, you should initially brainstorm some potential interesting topics before committing.  

Identify search words

Once you have investigated your topic know the research questions you want to answer, spend a bit of time brainstorming keywords.  If my topic is privacy concerns about Facebook, here are some possible related keywords:

  • Facebook: social networking, online social networks, Twitter (and other online social networks that may have different policies about sharing user data) 
  • privacy: data mining, legislation, rights

BEAM approach*: Background information sources

  • "materials whose claims a writer accepts as fact, whether these 'facts' are taken as general information or deployed as evidence to support the writer's own assertions." 
  • This information is often found in reference books (e.g., encyclopedias, handbooks).  

The reference books that are useful to you will depend on your topic.  Here are some online reference books that might include background information on your topic:


 SFU Library Catalogue.  When you find a book on your topic, look at its SUBJECT HEADINGS.  (Note: you can limit your results to books by checking the Books link under "Resource Type" on the left side of the screen.)  Each book has several subject headings that you can use to find more books about your topic.  

Also note that subject headings often include subheadings that could improve the relevance of your search results. For example:

Artificial Intelligence -- Social Aspects

Educational Technology --  Social Aspects

Social Media -- Moral And Ethical Aspects

Technological innovations -- Moral and ethical aspects

For help with the catalogue, ask a librarian or see the SFU Library Catalogue Search Guide.

BEAM approach: Evidence sources

  • "materials a writer uses for explication, analysis, or interpretation." 
  • examples or cases of an event occuring


Ethics and information technology

Journal of Information, Communication & Ethics in Society

IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Science, Technology and Engineering

Multidisciplinary databases

Academic Search Premier
Includes articles from a range of academic journals and popular magazines. Covers a broad range of topics.

Sociological Abstracts
Academic content (articles, book chapters, etc.) related to the study of society. 

Web of Science
Articles from scholarly journals in scientific fields.

Humanities and Social Sciences Index
Includes articles from a wide range of academic journals in the social sciences and humanities. Good for almost any topic.

Science Indexes
Articles from scholarly journals and popular magazines on a wide range of science topics.

Google Scholar
Google Scholar enables you to search for scholarly literature, from broad areas of research though mostly in the science and technology fields. Searching is not as focused as in the other article databases.

News sources

Canadian Newsstream
Full text access to major Canadian daily newspapers 

Wide range of information from newspapers, newswires, industry publications, websites, and company reports. 

Nexis Uni
International news coverage, business news, legal cases and law reports from early 1970's to present. Content is strongly American with significant coverage of Canadian and international topics.

Subject-specific databases

Scholarly articles from psychology journals. Good for any topic with a psychology angle.

Communication & Mass Media Complete
Indexing & abstracts for over 550 journals in the fields of communication and mass media studies.

Education Source
Education and education-related journal articles.

ACM Digital Library
Academic articles from the Association for Computing Machinery. Mostly "hard-core" computer science, but some material on computing & society.

IEEE Xplore
Fulltext of all journals and conference proceedings published by the IEEE. Includes material on computer science and computer engineering.

BEAM approach: Argument sources

  • "materials whose claims a writer affirms, disputes, refines, or extends in some way. 
  • "argument sources are those with which writers enter a 'conversation.'

Finding argument Sources 

Method Sources

  • Theoretical approaches to a phenomenon (eg, feminist, Marxist approach)

Finding Method sources

Pro tips

Time-saving search tip: truncation ( * )

Truncation symbols allow you to search for all variations of a word at once by searching for all the words beginning with the letters before the symbol.

  • For example, social network* will search for social network, social networks, social networking, etc. 

You can use truncation symbols in SFU Library's online resources, including the catalogue and most databases. 

Evaluating your sources

It is important for you to understand the differences in the type of publications you will encounter. Often popular science magazines will summarize recent reports from the primary scholarly literature for the general public. Scholarly publications report on new research or ideas and are used for scholarly communication. Each of these types of publications can be found in print and on the web.

See SFU Library's What is a Scholarly Journal? guide to help you distinguish between popular and scholarly sources. 

For a more detailed overview of the peer review process, see the Library's What is a peer-reviewed journal FAQ.

To help you evaluate information you find on the internet, see SFU Library's guide Internet Research: Finding and Evaluating Resources.

Citing sources

Citing your sources allows you to give credit to the original researchers, to point your reader(s) to where you found information, and to show that you know how to correctly cite sources.  For your papers, you will be using APA style.

It is always important to cite your sources. Take the SFU Library's Plagiarism Tutorial via the Canvas course management system if you haven't already.

You should be able to find the answers to most of your questions about APA style in the following Citation guide.

If the document you are trying to cite is not included in this APA guide, you should consult the latest edition of the APA Publication Manual

If you have questions about doing research or citing your sources, please ask a librarian.


* Bizup, Joseph. “BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing.” Rhetoric Review 27.1 (2008): 72-86. Communication & Mass Media Complete.