GEOG 221: Economic Worlds

If you need help, please contact Sarah (Tong) Zhang, Librarian for Geography, GIS, & Maps at 778-782-9704 or or Ask a librarian.

Before you start searching

Tip #1: Think about what you're looking for.

  • Review the assignment guidelines.
  • Decide what questions you want to answer.
  • Write those questions down, circle the key concepts in each.
  • Think of synonyms, broader and narrower terms, alternate spellings, and related words for each of your concepts.
  • Use Subject Headings the Library Catalogue and Descriptors in databases for more precise searches.

Tip #2: Use a variety of sources and formats.

  • No single source will answer all of your questions.
  • Not everything is online. You may find some good leads, but you will need to develop your research skills "beyond Google". 
  • Use a variety of information sources: books, government information, statistics, reports from the corporate world, peer-reviewed journal articles, encyclopedias, personal accounts, etc.

Basic knowledge and research skills 

What is a scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journal?
Learn how to distinguish academic and popular sources. 

Library research tutorials and guides
These library research skills tutorials and guides will get you started with learning or refreshing your research skills including narrowing your topic, an overview of the research process, finding books, finding journal articles, advanced techniques, and so on.  

Finding information

Starting points 

Canadian Points of View Reference Centre
A database of essays that present multiple sides of a current issue. Start with Browse Category, pick a topic that interest you, read the Overview, and then check the Point and Counterpoint summaries to get a sense of the key issues and perspectives. 

CQ Researcher 
A good source for "... original, comprehensive reporting and analysis on issues in the news". The perspective is American, but the content may still be useful. Start with Browse Pro/Con Sections by Topic. Be sure to check out the Bibliography section as well. 

The Conversation
The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.  Search for a certain topic to find all the articles on the topic, for example, minimum wage

Newspaper articles

Background information


To find books at SFU Library, use the Library Catalogue. Start with a keyword search, trying various combinations of the terms you've already brainstormed for your main concepts. Use AND between concept terms.

When you find a book (or film or report or ebook) that seems appropriate, click on the title for the full record for the item. Towards the bottom of the record, you'll see Subject Headings. If you click on a subject heading that seems relevant, you will find additional books on the same topic.

For further information, see the SFU Library Catalogue Search Guide.

Databases for searching for journal articles

Recommended databases for this course:

For further information see the How to find journal articles guide, or watch this video Only 4 Steps: Researching in Academic Business Journals

Sources for searching for grey literature

Grey literature is information produced outside of traditional publishing—reports, working papers, government documents, urban plans, etc. This information is often produced by organizations "on the ground" (such as government agencies and NGOs) where dissemination of information and reporting on activities is the goal before publishing an academic article or book.  Grey literature takes the form of documents, reports, working papers, etc. produced by government bodies, IGOs, NGOs, research groups, institutions, associations, etc. 

For more information, consult our Grey literature: What it is & how to find it guide. 

Use our Search tips for Google and Google Scholar for to search Google, Google Scholar, and Google Custom Searches for grey literature.

Tips for searching for grey literature

  • Think about organizations that might be producing information on the topic you're interested in. Scan reference lists and notice documents produced by government bodies or other organizations. Find and search their websites. 
  • These areas of the websites of government bodies and other organizations often contain reports and other critical grey literature: Reports, Research, DocumentsLibrary, Data.
  • Pay attention to author affiliations: sometimes the author of a book or journal article is affiliated with an organization and going to the website for that organization will connect you with important grey literature.

Government and intergovernmental information

Governments are obvious stakeholders in such initiatives – which means that they'll have explored the topic and probably published their thoughts.
  • Look at the Canadian government web pages for the resource of your choice.
  • See also the Provincial government web page for your resource.
  • If you are doing a resource in another country, see the government web pages for that country.
  • Check out the international agencies such as the European Union, United Nations, International Monetary Fund, or World Bank.

Use the links to the government bodies provided above or see Finding Government Resources & Information for links to city, regional, provincial, and federal governments in Canada, to foreign governments and to international organizations.

Thank thanks & research institutes 

Think tanks & research institutes often deal with public/economic policy topics, and much of their analysis is available for free.
Before you use such reports, be sure to read any available "About" section on each organization's page and scan the titles of their other reports so that you have a clear idea of the perspective they are likely to take on such topics. Seek balance!

Three major Canadian think thanks: 

If you need more of this sort of thing: 

Harvard's Think Tank Search 
Search across many such think tanks, although it tends to cover more US-based organizations than others. 

Canadian Electronic Library from desLibris 
Search for government documents, think tank reports, and research institute analyses. 

In case you want to learn more about think tanks, read this guide Writing about think tanks and using their research: A cautionary tip sheet

Interest/advocacy groups 

Many people have strong opinions about major economic policy topics, and as soon as you get a critical mass of people with opinions, you inevitably get an interest or advocacy group.
Such groups often produce or at least collect research and news on a topic, saving you lots of work.


ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) Canada 
Living Wage for Families BC

Related SFU Library Guides

Writing & citing


The Student Learning Commons (SLC) provides writing and learning support to SFU students of ALL levels, whether you are an A student or a student who is struggling. You can book a consultation and/or attend a workshop

Writing handouts from the SLC: These handouts are excellent! They will guide you through the mechanics of academic writing and help with things like grammar, citing, transition words, and style. See especially the three handouts on integrating sources. Immensely helpful.

How-to books on academic writing: These are extremely useful books that will demystify the academic writing process. 

  • Making Sense: A Student's Guide to Research and Writing: Geography & Environmental Sciences [print]  *see especially Chapter 5: "Writing an Essay".
  • They say/I say: the Moves that Matter in Academic Writing [print]

Avoiding plagiarism: Questions about what constitutes plagiarism? Please read the SFU Library's What is plagiarism? page and then take our Plagiarism tutorial.


Writing & style guides. Follow a citation style guide. 

Use Referencing and citation management software to keep track of your resources and citations.​


Some content in the searching for grey literature section was adapted from the blog post Basic income & beyond: Researching economic policy topics by Mark Bodnar, the Librarian for Business & Economics.