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REM 801 - Advanced Library Research

If you need help, please contact Jenna Walsh, Indigenous Initiatives Librarian & Librarian for First Nations Studies, Archaeology, Environmental Science, and Resource & Environmental Management at 778.782.9378 or or Ask a librarian.

Other useful SFU Library links for REM grad students:

Citation searching

  • "Cited by" or "Times cited"
  • Web of Science
    • Use Web of Science database to find references that cite your "key" resources. Indexes over 8500 international journals in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. As a registered user, you can save searches to the ISI Web of Knowledge server, set up search history and citation alerts, and create custom journal lists for focused browsing and table of contents alerting.
    • Video -- Web of Sciences Cited References Searching Tutorial
  • Google Scholar
  • Other databases have also started to build this feature into their own databases, so watch out for it.

Current awareness

Stay up-to-date: full information in our Current Awareness guide.

  • Table of Contents alerts.  You likely have some journals that you track for articles of interest to you. We can offer you some automated alternatives for alerting you to new books & journal articles in your field.  Many of our databases, e-journals and e-journal providers will let you set up alerts for specific titles or groups of titles and email.

Search for specific titles or by publisher in our Electronic Journal Database. You can also browse a list of selected e-journals for REM. If SFU doesn't have a subscription to a journal that you want to track, go to the publisher's website to set up an alert. If you can't find it by searching, you can find it in Ulrich's Periodical Directory, which provides publication details for journals.

When you link to the journal website or publisher's homepage, look for a button or link labelled "alerts", "register", "login". For example, Elsevier Science Direct journals have a tab labelled MyAlerts. Fill in the form, set-up your preferences and wait for your emails to arrive.

  • Citation alerts
  • Search alerts
  • Web feeds and RSS - guide page
  • Conference Alerts (Academic Conferences Worldwide) - sign up to receive monthly emails about academic conferences of interest

Tracking your research

Citation or reference management tools can help you collect your journal article, book, or other document citations together in one place for future use and reuse: create collections, store citations, generate bibliographies and more.

There is a range of options currently available to researchers when choosing citation management software. These include Zotero and Mendeley, which both have a plug-in for Microsoft Word, helping you to cite and create bibliographies as you write your paper.

For more information about options for citation management, please visit Referencing and Citation Management Software

You may also wish to use a Qualitative Data Analysis software, like NVivo, to organize your literature review.

Grey literature

Grey literature is literature that usually isn’t published commercially, including publications such as position papers, technical reports, conference proceedings, institutional documents, theses, and consultant reports. Increasingly, the web is used by government bodies, organizations and scholars to provide access to documents that might never receive commercial distribution.  

To locate publications that might be classified as grey literature, try using the following research tools. Once you identify specific publications, you can sometimes find a copy by searching the web (use the title in quotation marks, to force a phrase search). Failing that, you can contact the author or institution to request a copy.

REM journal indexes and databases may contain references to grey literature. The reference list at the end of the article may also provide you with leads in your field.

Library catalogues, especially library catalogues of government departments and institutes, which are available for searching on the Web.

  • A good example of a government department library catalogue is the WAVES catalogue from Fisheries and Oceans Canada libraries.  It lists published and unpublished documents
  • Agricola cites journal literature, government and technical reports in agriculture and related areas acquired by the U.S. National Agricultural Library
  • For local issues, try municipal or regional libraries such as the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library.  The library usually receives consultation documents for public viewing when the provincial government is in the process of deciding on a major project and may be the only source that retains copies of such documents after the project is completed.

Dissertations & theses are usually not published commercially and are held only at the institutions where they were produced. All SFU theses and dissertations can be found in the Library catalogue. For more detail, see the library guide to Finding theses at SFU and other universities

  • Theses Canada
    Search for Canadian theses published since 1965; provides access for free the full-text electronic versions of Canadian theses and dissertations that were published from the beginning of 1998 to August 31, 2002.
  • Dissertations and Theses Abstracts and Index
  • OATD Open Access Theses and Dissertations 

Web sites of government departments think tanks or research institutes, non-governmental associations, activists and other interest groups:

Policy and government sources

Legislation and policy documents relating to the interpretation of legislation may be found in a variety of government publications and secondary sources. Try these sources for information on federal policy



  • Library of Parliament publications site "Staff of the Parliamentary Research Branch (PRB) of the Library of Parliament work exclusively for Parliament conducting research and providing analysis and policy advice to Members of the Senate and House of Commons and to parliamentary committees on a non-partisan and confidential basis."
  • Canadian encyclopedic digest, western [print] Provides a useful topical overview of legislation and significant case law. Also available through LawSource​
  • The Canadian Encyclopedia [print or online]
  • The almanac of Canadian politics [print]
  • Canadian parliamentary guide [print]
  • Canadian parliamentary handbook [print]

Background to bills and policy documents relating to the interpretation of legislation may be found in a variety of government publication sources. Government websites are often a very rich source of information on policy and practises in a specific country.

Policy document sources for all Canadian jurisdictions

  • Canadian Research Index
    Indexes government publications at all jurisdictional levels. If you don't know which ministry is responsible for your issue, the Canadian Research Index can be a great way to identify interested parties. The m# in the record will allow you to access this report on microfilm on the 6th floor of the Bennett Library. We may also have print editions of some reports which may be found in the Library catalogue.
  • LawCentralCanada Access to Legislative Materials by Jurisdiction
  • Canadian Electronic Library full-text policy documents, also searchable in the library catalogue

Federal policy and legislation

  • Government of Canada
    Try the search feature to find pages where your issue is mentioned. Or go directly to the appropriate ministry, through the list of departments and agencies, and search on this more specific website.
  • Canada's Parliament website
    Use the Parliamentary website to find the text of bills, reports from various governmental committees, record of debates (Hansard) and other legislative materials. You can use the search function to look for mentions of your topic on the site. You can also use the structure of the site to track specific documents. Select the appropriate category of document from the main page, e.g. Bills, Committee Business, Chamber business, etc. When you get to the page, use the menu on the left to find the right session of parliament and then select the type of document you want. Once a bill is passed, you can find it in the statutes of Canada.
  • Consolidated Statutes and Regulations of Canada

IMPORTANT NOTE: To find a federal bill & supporting discussion, you need to know the specific session when your bill was introduced. If you don't know this, you can often find references to new legislation in secondary sources, such as newspaper articles.

If you know the session and the name or number of the bill, you can use the Canada legislative index [print] or BC legislative digest [print] which lists the progress of bills and dates of various readings, passage, etc. Find the volume that covers the appropriate session of Parliament or Legislature, look up your bill by name or number and note down the dates listed for first, second and third readings.

You can often find the discussion of the bill at the 2nd reading by elected members (see Hansard, record of debates, for Canada and BC).

BC provincial policy and legislation

Canadian case law

For help finding and interpreting case citations, see Guide to Law Reports.

International policy and legislation sources

  • LexisNexis
    This database contains the full text of newspapers, legislation, and company information from around the world. The largest concentration of law materials is from the US and UK.

United States

  • A centralized place to find information from local, state, and U.S. Government Agency websites.

  • for Science. Two major types of information are included—selected authoritative science Web sites and databases of technical reports, journal articles, conference proceedings, and other published materials.

  • FindLaw
    US federal and state law, cases & codes; includes lists of resources by practise area

European Union

United Kingdom

  • Information for all levels of Government in the UK
  • UK Legislation since 1988, Regulations, and other official publications.

Directories of public policy sources on the web

Other policy documents are published by think tanks, research institutions (independent, university or government affiliated), NGOs (activists, professional associations, labour, industry associations, etc.) The web is a good source for tracking these down.

Writing guides

There is no specific style guide recommended for REM students. Check with your supervisor(s) as to their formatting preferences. You may also want to consult the SFU Library assistant for theses and the Theses Resources guide.

The SFU Library provides writing guides that include direction and examples for citing sources in APA, Chicago and MLA styles.

You may also want to consult these writing guides:

  • Enjoy writing your science thesis or dissertation! : a step by step guide to planning and writing dissertations and theses for undergraduate and graduate science students [print]
  • The Chicago guide to communicating science [print]
  • Scientific style and format: the CBE manual for authors, editors, and publishers [print]
  • Making sense: a student's guide to research and writing: geography & environmental sciences [print]
  • The scientist's handbook for writing papers and dissertations [print]
  • Writing and presenting scientific papers [print]
  • Effective communication for science and technology [print]
  • Science and technical writing: a manual of style [print and online]
  • Handbook of science communication [print]
  • How to write & publish a scientific paper [print or online]
  • Science and technical writing: a manual of style [print]
  • Scientific papers and presentations [print]
  • A guide to writing sociology papers [print]
  • The sociology student writer's manual [print]
  • Researching and writing dissertations in hospitality and tourism [print]

If you have a paper ready to publish, you may want to consider checking out the impact factors of various journals in your field, using the Journal Citation Reports, before deciding where to submit it.

Scholarly publishing: Maintaining your author rights

  • When you publish an article, would you like to retain the rights to include sections in later works, give copies to your class, place it on your website?
  • Use the SPARC Author Addendum, a legal instrument that modifies the publisher's agreement and allows you to keep key rights to your articles when submitting an article for publication. For more information contact your liaison librarian.

Style manuals and instructions to authors

There are many different style manuals available in the library. See Writing & Style Guides for the most commonly used ones.

Borrowing privileges

  • Graduate students are eligible for a semester loan period (books subject to recall by other students/faculty)
  • Renew books online (limited to 3 online renewals and if there are no requests/holds on the item)
  • Unlimited number of renewals when you renew books in person (materials must be present and no requests/holds on the item).
  • COPPUL Card (you physically go and borrow materials from other libraries)

Interlibrary loan

  • Where can I get this? Look for this link. It enables library patrons to view the SFU Library holdings in electronic and print formats as well as to see other library holdings. It also allows users to directly request articles and books for delivery via Interlibrary Loan.
  • Do you have a specific citation for an article, book or conference paper and don't know where to get it? Try Citation Finder - a handy tool for locating links to full text, print materials, and an Interlibrary Loan form.
  • If SFU Library doesn't have what you want, we can get it, at no charge to you! Fill out an interlibrary loan form (or look for the Where can I get this? link) to obtain items not found at the Library.