GEOG 364: Cities and Crisis

This is a guide to suggested sources for students in Geography 364: Cities and Crisis (Summer 2021). Check the Library Catalogue and SFU Library Databases to find additional materials at SFU Library.

Library research overview and help

Library research basics

In need of a quick refresher? These resources will help:

Recommended information sources by type 

Grey literature

What is grey literature

Grey literature is information produced outside of traditional publishing, and can include reports, policy documents, working papers, newsletters, government documents, speeches, white papers, urban plans, and so on. 

This information is often produced by organizations "on the ground" (such as government, IGOs, NGOs, and industry) where dissemination of information and reporting on activities, often in the hopes of rapidly influencing decision-making and policy, is the goal before publishing an academic article or book.  For this reason, grey literature is often more current than literature in scholarly journals. Grey literature typically does not go through a peer-review process and as a result quality can sometimes be an issue, so be sure to critically evaluate your source

Techniques for searching for grey literature

The websites of organizations and government bodies that work in your topic area are an excellent, and reliable, way to locate grey literature. Look for website sections such as "Publications", Documents", "Reports", and "Library" to locate documents. To identify organizations, use Google as well as reference lists in readings. Also pay attention to author affiliations—not everyone works at a university! 

Start with Google

Google is great way to search for grey literature, and often the best place to start. To keep the amount of results from being overwhelming, refine your search by using the search techniques detailed in the Library's Search tips for Google and Google Scholar. Example search: refugees housing filetype:pdf

Google Custom Search

Carleton University Library's Find Canadian Government Publications on the Web
Google Custom Search that searches across Canadian government websites with the option to limit to federal, provincial, or municipal information.

NGO Search
Google Custom Search that searches across hundreds non-governmental organization (NGO) websites. NGO Search is a project of the International Documents Taskforce (IDTF) and the Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) of the American Library Association (ALA). This is a spreadsheet of NGOs included in the project.

IGO Search
Google Custom Search that searches across Intergovernmental Organization (IGO) websites. It is a project of the International Documents Taskforce (IDTF) and the Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) of the American Library Association (ALA). Here is the growing spreadsheet of IGO urls included in the search.

Library databases

Canadian Electronic Library
A library database that includes publications from Canadian public policy institutes, government agencies, think tanks, and research centres.

For more information, see also: SFU Library's guide Grey literature: What it is & how to find it

Background information sources 

Extremely useful for quick but thorough overviews of theoretical concepts and for the Further Reading / References lists at the end of entries. 


Use the Library Catalogue to find books. Keyword searches are a good way to start searching and are also useful for finding chapters in edited books on broader topics. When you click on an item in the Library Catalogue, pay attention to the hyperlinked subject headings. These function like hashtags and are a good way to quickly connect with other items on the same topic. In the Library Catalogue you can also:

  • Select Advanced Search and use the drop-down box to search by Subject
  • Choose Browse Search and use the drop-down box to browse by Subject

Journal articles

Search for journal articles in human and physical geography, earth sciences, ecology, geology, and environmental sciences.

Search for journal articles, conference proceedings, and other resources in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. Can also be used for cited reference searches, citation analysis of research, and searching by affiliation.

Web of Science
Major multidisciplinary academic database. Search for journal articles, citation counts, journal impact factors, and more across disciplines.

News media

Canadian Newsstream
Contains the full text of articles in major Canadian and small market BC newspapers, with coverage dating back much further than online newspaper sites.  

The Discourse
A Canadian digital news media company that brings together journalists, members, and partners to provide in-depth, collaborative journalism in communities underserved by media. 

Globe & Mail -- Canada's Heritage from 1844
Full-text archive including every image, advertisement, classified ad, birth and death notice, covering 1844-2000.  

Current issues of newspapers from around the world. Some newspapers include the provision for language translation and/or audio of stories, once selected.

See also: SFU Library's guides to News sources and Alternative news sources.


Statistics Canada The Canadian Perspective Survey Series 1: Impacts of COVID-19
Statistics Canada released this survey which examines the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. It covers an early period, with participants responding from March 29th, 2020 to April 3rd, 2020. The survey examines labour market impacts and behavioral and health impacts of the outbreak. 

CANSIM (Canadian Socioeconomic Information Management)
Statistics tables extracted from numerous surveys run by Statistics Canada. Browse a wide range of topics (choose "Browse tables by subjects"). 

A portal of downloadable statistics Sample Search: Vancouver housing
Examples: Residential Housing in Canada (Dossier) and
Rental vacancy rates in British Columbia from 2000 to 2018 (Graph based on CMHC information)

Canadian Census Analyzer
An easy way to choose and download Census data for a variety of geographic levels (from province, municipality, to neighborhood, among a few other geographic levels specific to Census). 

Finding Statistics on British Columbia
Library guide on data sources about British Columbia on a variety of topics.

More information sources by topic 

Housing crisis

Urban Housing Policy Guide
Library guide created by the Public Policy Librarian 

Overdose crisis

DTES (Vancouver Downtown Eastside) Research Access Portal
A portal to resources about Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. It covers academic materials such as scholarly articles and research summaries, as well as community materials such as reports, historical documents, and more.  Topics covered include: overdose/substance use, HIV/AIDS, housing and homelessness, and more. 

Canadian Health Care Policy Guide
Library guide created by the Health Sciences Librarian

Climate crisis

Metro Vancouver's Climate Change Programs
Emission Inventories & Forecasts, plans and reports on greenhouse gas emission. 

Find Climate Policy Custom Google Search 
Custom Google search to find publications from 12 leading think tanks working on climate change and environment, built by Transparity

Sanctuary and Abolition 

Immigration Law: Sanctuary Cities- a guide by Franklin County Law Library 
Sources of Law on Sanctuary Cities.

What is Sanctuary?  by American Library Association 
An overview to the history, policies, and the state of sanctuary in disparate spaces.

Sanctuary Cities: Policies and Practices in International Perspective
A journal article by Harald Bauder, aiming to show "how urban sanctuary policies and practices differ between national contexts and assess whether there are common features of sanctuary cities."

Ryerson Centre for Immigration and Settlement
Check its publications, many of which are related to sanctuary or migration in general. Try using advanced google search techniques to search the site! 

Writing and citing resources

Writing resources

Making Sense: A Student's Guide to Research and Writing: Geography & Environmental Sciences [print]

Methods in Human Geography: A Guide for Students Doing a Research Project  [print]

Student Learning Commons (SLC) at the SFU Library provides assistance with a wide range of academic writing strategies through one-on-one consultations, workshops, handouts, and online guides. See especially Student Learning Commons: writing handouts.

Citing resources

Citation management software: the Library offers support and consultations for Zotero and Mendeley.

Use APA or Chicago format when citing sources. Please refer to the following guides for APA style:

Please refer to the following guides for Chicago style:

Questions about what constitutes plagiarism? Take the Plagiarism Tutorial.