GEOG 440: Property, Land, Society

This is a guide to suggested sources for students in Geography 440 - Property, Land, Society (Spring 2020). 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:


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

The Library also offers quick, chat-based assistance at all stages of your research via Ask a Librarian services.

Recommended information sources

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

A few sample Subject Heading searches that may be useful:

Journal articles

  • ScopusSearch 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 Sciencemajor 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.  
  • PressReader
    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.

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 what you find. 

  • 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 the recommended websites from your course reading list. Also pay attention to documents cited in reference lists and author affiliations—not everyone works at a university! 
  • 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 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

Government documents 

Housing Vancouver strategy
City of Vancouver's new housing targets, progress reports, council motions aiming to track and report on progress toward the new Housing Vancouver targets.  

Vancouver City Council documents ​
Recent and historical council decisions and reports, including meeting minutes, administrative reports by City staff, staff presentations, etc. 

Think tanks & research institutes 

CD Howe Institute

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Housing information

  • Urban Housing Policy
    A library guide by Nina Smart, the Librarian for Urban Studies.  A list of government and association sites, statistics and books to help you find informaiton on urban housing policy. 

Teach-in resources: participatory and active learning approaches

Creative approaches to research communication


    SFU Library's Media & Maker Commons

    The Media & Maker Commons equipment and tools include the following:

    Visual Communication

    Visual communication is often more effective than large slabs of texts. 

    Presentation skills 

    How to engage your audience 

    Library Student Learning Commons (SLC)'s resources on presentation skills 

    Plain/lay language resources

    Readability tools

    Use a readability index such as SMOGHemingway App

    Inclusive language (consider how others experience your words)

    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 format when citing sources. Please refer to the following guides:

    Questions about what constitutes plagiarism? Take the Plagiarism Tutorial.