GEOG 381: Territory, Power, State

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

1. Library research overview

The SFU Library Research Skills Tutorial provides an excellent overview of the research process and quickly teaches the skills you need to efficiently find and assess the sources you need for your work Geography 381 and other courses. Highly recommended. You will up your academic game by completing this 50 minute tutorial.

There is help available to you through the SFU Library at all stages of your research. You can Ask a Librarian. You can also contact me directly at

2. Choosing your topic

Look before you leap. Take some time to explore library and other resources before you commit yourself to a topic. If a topic is very current and/or of local interest, it may be difficult to find academic articles and other appropriate information on that topic.

3. Finding information

To complete your research project assignment, you will need to go beyond Google. Good research takes time and you are required to read academic sources (ie, academic journal articles, books, book chapters) that relate to and help answer your research question.

While focused on how to read a scientific article, this is actually a useful guide to how to read most journal articles, complete with a template for how to efficiently take notes. 
Purugganan, M., & Hewitt, J. (2004). How to read a scientific article. Rice University.

Visit Critically Analyzing Information Resources - Cornell University Library for guidelines on critically appraising the material you read.

A good place to start your research is with the Readings & Weekly Assignments for the course.

If you need help finding the items on the reading list .... contact me! (

Background information


Use the Library Library Catalogue to find more books. Keyword searches are useful for finding chapters in edited books on broader topics. They can also lead you to some good subject headings, which will allow you to do more precise searching. Here is a list books that have the subject heading Political Geography

Maps and Atlases are available in the Map Room on the 2nd floor of the Bennett Library. See the Map collection page. 

Searching for journal and newspaper articles (using databases)

For all topics

  • GeoBase: Articles on all topics in Geography.
  • Academic Search Premier: Comprehensive multidisciplinary database.
  • Web of Science: Multidisciplinary, with good coverage of the Social Sciences, Humanities, as well as the Sciences. Includes citation counts. 
  • Google Scholar: Searches scholarly literature across disciplines and sources. Use these Google search tips to have greater control over your searches.

For Canadian topics

  • CBCA Complete: Scholarly journals, popular magazines, and trade journals from 1982 to the present.
  • Canadian Newsstream: View the full text of articles for Canadian newspapers including the Province, Vancouver Sun and Victoria Times Colonist. 
  • America: History and Life: Covers the history of Canada and the United States from the earliest times to the present.

For International topics

  • Nexis Uni: Indexes and provides full text of articles from newspapers around the world. Also includes some periodicals.
  • Historical Abstracts: Covers the history of the world (except Canada and the United States) from 1450-present.
  • International Political Science Abstracts: (all aspects of Political Science including political geography)
  • Business Source Complete: Includes country reports from the EIU, Global Insight, ICON Group and CountryWatch.
  • Factiva: Global full text news and business database with search limiters by region, country, language and more.

Other databases may be more appropriate for your particular topic—access all the databases that SFU Library has here

Government information

Canadian local, provincial and federal information

For additional sources, see the Finding Government Resources & Information guide.

International information




Most official statistical agencies provide information at their websites. See International Statistical Agencies for a list of statistical agencies, from Afghanistan to Zambia. Depending what you're after, you may find some of these sites and databases useful:

  • OECD iLibrary: Information from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Topics include agriculture, developing economies, education, employment, energy, environment, migration, social issues, and sustainable development.
  • World Resources Institute (WRI) - Publications | Maps & Data International environmental, social and economic trends.
  • undata: A compilation of United Nations and agency statistics, covering economic, social, financial and development topics.
  • World Development Indicators (WDI) : social, business, environment, technology and economic variables for over two hundred countries. Produced by the World Bank.

Web resources

Many academic institutions and research institutions post working papers and other research on the web.  An example is the CAIN website in Northern Ireland, which has a wealth of information on all aspects of The Troubles, and INCORE: International Conflict Research, which has information on all trouble spots in the world.

4. Putting it all together


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 Write an Annotated Bibliography, an SFU Library guide, may also be handy for this course. 

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.


For your paper, you have been asked to use APA style for your citations. Please refer to the APA citation guide prepared by SFU Library.

Citing information gained from statistical sources can be tricky, so please check out our Guide to Citing Statistics.