On this page
- Library research overview and help
- Recommended information sources
- Writing and citing resources
Library research basics
In need of a quick refresher? These resources will help:
- SFU Library Research Skills Tutorial - Up your academic game by completing this 50-minute tutorial.
- Start your research here - An overview of the research process and tips for where and how to look for information.
The Library also offers quick, chat-based assistance at all stages of your research via Ask a Librarian services.
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 what you find.
Techniques and sources 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!
Google is great way to search for grey literature, but the amount of results can be overwhelming. Refine your search by using the search techniques detailed in the Library's Search tips for Google and Google Scholar. Example search: site:gov.bc.ca refugees housing filetype:pdf
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.
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.
Google Custom Search that searches across 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.
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
Extremely useful for quick but thorough overviews of theoretical concepts and for the Further Reading / References lists at the end of entries.
- International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, Second edition (2020)
- International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, First edition (2009)
- The SAGE Handbook of Social Geographies
- The Dictionary of Human Geography
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
A few sample Subject Heading searches that may be useful:
- Human beings -- Migrations
- Emigration and immigration
- Unaccompanied immigrant children
- Refugee camps
- Students, Foreign -- Canada
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.
Contains the full text of articles in major Canadian and small market BC newspapers, with coverage dating back much further than online newspaper sites.
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.
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.
Citation management software: the Library offers support and consultations for Zotero and Mendeley.
Use APA format when citing sources. Please refer to the following guides:
Questions about what constitutes plagiarism? Take the Plagiarism Tutorial.