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A guide to sources for assignments in Geography 442: A World of Cities.
1. Getting started: background information in specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries
Extremely useful for overviews of theoretical concepts and for the Further Reading / References lists at the end of entries. Also excellent for identifying the vocabulary surrounding your topic.
- International Encyclopedia of Human Geography
- Encyclopedia of Urban Studies [print]
- The SAGE Handbook of Social Geographies [print and online]
- The Dictionary of Human Geography
2. Search strategies
You will be doing several searches using a variety of online tools. Use the Library Catalogue to find books owned by SFU Library, use databases to find journal articles, and use a variety of sources to search for non-academic literature. Generally, we keep searches in the Library Catalogue more simple than searches in databases.
Before searching the catalogue or databases, think about your topic, and break it down into concepts or keywords. Think of synonyms for each keyword or concept. Try new or alternative words that describe your topic.
To identify which terms you should use to search for books and articles, write down the proposed title of your project (or an imaginary title of an ideal article) and highlight the important/meaningful words. For example:
Vancouver: Towards becoming a Smart City
Use the highlighted words and think of any variations, synonyms or related terms (e.g. sustainable, smart growth, Vancouver, urban, city, design, environment).
The simple terms AND and OR allow you to combine terms to broaden or narrow your searches.
To narrow your search: combining with AND requires ALL terms to be found in each search result. For example:
Vancouver AND "smart city"
To broaden your search: combining with OR requires ANY term to be found in each search result (use this for finding synonyms). For example:
"smart city" OR "connected city" OR "digital city"
* The asterisk: the asterisk is used for a word that may have several endings.
For example: cit* will find city or cities
Use parentheses to control the order of the search and search with more than one concept. Think back to high school math: this is order of operations. For example:
Vancouver AND("digital cit*" OR "smart cit*")
Remember these three steps when searching the Library Catalogue for books: 1) Use keyword search, 2) select a book from the list that appears to meet your needs, 3) click on the subject headings for that book to find similar materials. Subject headings are terms — or tags — that have been assigned to each book. They are useful for locating books on the same subject regardless of the terminology used by the author. Using subject headings in your search can lead to more accurate results but it's almost always easier to start with keyword searching first.
Need more help? See SFU Library's Start your research here guide.
3. Databases: Finding journal articles
To find journal articles on your topic, you'll need to use one or several article databases. Use the information above to construct your search strings.
Here are a few suggested databases:
- Web of Science: Major multidisciplinary database with excellent coverage of the social sciences. Includes backward and forward citation linking as well as citation counts.
- Academic Search Premier: Multidisciplinary.
- GEOBASE: Human and physical geography.
- Google Scholar: Searches scholarly literature across disciplines and sources. Includes some grey literature.
- Sociological Abstracts: Theoretical and applied sociology, social science, and policy science.
- TRID: Transportation research, both academic and non-academic.
- Environment Complete: Search for journal articles in the area of environmental studies in this database.
4. Sources for searching for grey literature
- Canadian Electronic Library: Publications from Canadian public policy institutes, government agencies, advocacy groups, think tanks, university research centres, and public interest groups.
- Carleton University'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 - Custom Google Search of NGO websites for reports and other publications.
- Government Resources: Selected print and electronic information sources. Includes a list of indexes to government publications and statistics.
- Metro Vancouver: Provides regional planning and services for the Greater Vancouver area. Search Metro Vancouver's Harry Lash Library here.
- City of Vancouver: Information and links to current city projects and initiatives.
- BC Stats: Access to BC Statistics by subject.
- Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) Publications and Reports
- Tourism Research: Selected print and electronic resources relevant for research on tourism.
- Olympics & Paralympics 2010: Research material on the history, economic, political, social & environmental aspects of the Olympics, with special attention to materials about the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.
5. Sources for searching for news articles
- Canadian Newsstream: Fulltext of major Canadian newspapers and Canwest's small-market BC papers.
- PressReader: Canadian and International newspapers, with coverage of the last 30-60 days only, in full colour.
6. Citing & writing
- Citation style guides: APA (6th ed.)
- Writing for University: Learn or review the strategies and processes involved in academic writing and research, including writing for specific genres or disciplines, drafting your paper, self-editing, and writing.
- Writing Handouts: Find quick tips on how to structure your research and essay from this series of two-page handouts provided by the Student Learning Commons.
- How to Write an Annotated Bibliography
- What is Plagiarism?