Human Geography research guide

Accessing assistance 

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

Check the main Geography resource page for links to library research guides prepared for specific courses (under Help with course assignments). 

Services for Faculty

SFU Library Research Skills Tutorial: Up your academic game by completing this 50 minute tutorial.

Specialized encyclopedias for background information

Finding books

Use the Library Catalogue to find books on your topic. Try a Keyword search first. Select a title to display the record for a book that matches your topic, then look at the Subject terms in the record. Click on a Subject that matches your topic to locate more relevant books. 

Article databases

Core databases

These databases are the best places to start when searching for journal articles on Human Geography topics:

Web of Science
Major multidisciplinary database with excellent coverage of Human Geography topics. Includes forward and backward citation counts

Major database for journal articles in Human and Physical Geography as well as Environmental Studies.

Environment Complete
Database containing environmental studies research, including Human Geography topics.  

Canada Commons (formerly, Canadian Electronic Library from desLibris) 
Canadian health and public policy documentsand Canadian e-books. Includes three major components: Canadian Health Research, Canadian Public Policy documents, and fiction and non-fiction e-books from Canadian publishers.

Additional databases

Google Scholar
Searches scholarly literature across disciplines and sources and includes some grey literature. Search commands differ from those in academic databases, so use the Google search tips here

Social Sciences Full Text
Coverage of both applied and theoretical aspects of the Social Sciences, including Economics, Environmental Studies, Gender Studies, Geography, Planning & Public Administration, Policy Sciences, Political Science, Sociology, and Urban Studies.

Global Health
Database with coverage that includes International Health, Public Health, non-communicable diseases, nutrition, and much more.

Some coverage of health-related topics in Geography such as epidemics, global health, social determinants of health, and climate change issues. 

Economics database with coverage of Economic Geography topics. 

Academic Search Premier
Multidisciplinary database. Includes both scholarly and popular sources. 

Geography journals

Searching for grey literature

Grey literature is information produced outside of traditional publishing and distribution channels, and can include reports, 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 and inter-governmental agencies, NGOs, and industry) to store information and report on activities without the delays and restrictions of commercial and academic publishing. 

NGO Search
NGO Search is a Google Custom Search that searches across hundreds non-governmental organization (NGO) websites. NGO Search is a project of the International Documents Taskforce (IDTF) of the American Library Association (ALA). For more information on this project, including a growing list of NGOs included in the search, please see the IDTF wiki

IGO Search
International governmental organizations (IGOs) are organizations made up of more than one national government—examples include NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the WHO (World Heath Organization). The governments are the members. IGO Search is a Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) that searches across IGO websites. It is a project of the International Documents Taskforce (IDTF) of the American Library Association (ALA). For more information on this project, including a growing list of IGOs included in the search, please see the IDTF wiki.

Carleton University's Find Canadian Government Publications on the Web
A Google Custom Search that searches across Canadian government websites with the option to limit to federal, provincial, or municipal information.

For more information on finding grey literature, see the Library's Grey Literature: What it is & how to find it research guide.

Government information

Selected government pages: British Columbia

Selected government pages: Canada

For information on additional government sources, see the Finding Government Resources & Information research guide.

Statistics and demographic sources

Official Canadian and U.S. Government statistics agencies

International statistics agencies

For more information on locating statistics and demographic information, consult the Library's Statistical resources research guide.  

Putting it all together: Study, writing, and citing 

The Student Learning Commons (SLC) provides writing and learning support to SFU undergraduate 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

The Research Commons provides extensive writing services for SFU graduate students of all levels, as well as workshops and consultations for all stages of the research lifecycle. 

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.

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

Related SFU research guides

See the following related SFU research guides for sources for special topics in Geography: