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Finding information on Comparative World Politics, Culture, and Society

If you need help, please contact Baharak Yousefi, Librarian for History, International Studies, Liberal Studies, & Political Science at 778.782.5033 or byousefi@sfu.ca or Ask a librarian.

Ways to look for academic sources

Take a look at the pages below to help you get started with your search process:

Generating search terms

  1. Think about words or terms to use to begin searching for your topic. This may be the the key words from your project title or a research question. Example topic: "Voting behaviour in Catalonia"
     
  2.  Next, think of words that relate to your topic. In this example, it might be useful to include types of behaviours you may already know of, such as "civil resistance." Or if you want to research different types of behaviors relating to voting in Catalonia, you can be more specific and include "political behaviours" as a keyword.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  3.  When you find a resource you like, you can get ideas for more keywords through the content itself or the description on the catalogue page.

Note: Depending on the combination of terms you use, your results may look quite different. Also, be mindful that as language evolves, words we use today to describe something may not have been used in the past.

Background sources (listed below) and on the general background information page for IS are good places to start to become familiar with your topic. 

To ensure your search is focused and relevant to your topic, try using the filters, which are usually located on the left side of the search results page. You can do this both when searching the Library Catalogue and most databases,

Using AND, OR, asterisks (*), and quotation marks ("x and y") with your search terms can also help you focus your search and get different combinations of results.

  • Searching for  voting AND Catalonia will connect these different ideas and show results that contain both terms anywhere in the text.
  • Searching for  Catalonia OR Barcelona will connect these related words and show results that contain either term anywhere in the text.
  • Searching for vot* will search voting, voter, voters, etc.
  • Searching for "civil resistance" will only show results where these two words appear together.

Using subject headings

Subject headings are standardized words or phrases used to find library material in a particular area. Using subject headings will increase your chance of finding materials that are specific to your topic. After you have located a resource that is of interest to you, you can sometimes use the subject heading which is assigned to that item to find similar items. On the resource details, this is labeled as "subject."

Examples of subject headings relating to comparative world politics, culture, and society:

Places to look for information

Background sources

Background sources help you become familiar with your topic by providing facts and information.

Examples of background sources focusing on comparative world politics, culture, and society:

    To find more background sources, use keywords in the library catalogue and under the filter "Resource Type," select "Reference Entries." Visit the general International Studies background information page for more sources

    Article databases

    Article databases are collections of information and are an excellent tool for academic research. They may include academic, newspaper articles, images, and primary sources. The benefit of using article databases is that as they are often topic or format-based, they limit your results to a particular subject area or field of study. Here are some examples of databases in this area:

    • Political Science Complete
      Covers political theory, comparative politics, law and legislation and non-governmental organizations.     
    • Anthropology Plus
      Journal articles, reports, commentaries, edited works, and obituaries covering topics such as social and cultural studies.
    • Sociological Abstracts
      Abstracts of journal articles, books, chapters, association papers, dissertations, and book, film, and software reviews related to theoretical and applied social sciences.

    Please also take a look at the general International Studies suggested databases.

    As International Studies crosses other disciplines, you might find it helpful to take a look at research guides of other fields, such as: