Sociology and Anthropology Graduate Students Library Research Guide

This guide is an introduction to some of the tools and resources useful for graduate students in Sociology and Anthropology. See also guides, Services for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and Research methods for Anthropology and Sociology.

Contact info

For Library research help, please contact Moninder Lalli, Librarian for Sociology / Anthropology by email ( or Ask a librarian.

Databases for journal articles

Databases for Anthropology and Sociology

If the full text of an article is not within a database, then use the Get This button to check to see if SFU Library has a copy.  If SFU Library does not own the journal then request a copy of the article through SFU Library's Inter-Library Loans Service.

How to find journal articles [guide]

Citation Finder Tool to locate journal articles, books, etc. when you have a specific citation but don't know where to find the item.

  • AnthroSource  - journals of the American Anthropological Association
  • Anthropology Plus - main database for anthropological journals
  • ProQuest Sociology Collection - International literature in sociology. Searches multiple databases including: Applied Social Science Index, ProQuest Sociology Database, Social Services Abstracts, and Sociological Abstracts.
  • Social Sciences Full Text - database for social sciences journals
  • Social Theory - full-text of documents from prominent social sciences theorists such as Max Weber, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim

In addition to journal article databases, it is useful to use the bibliographies of recent theses.

More databases:  Anthropology, Sociology databasesPrimary Documents databases

Other relevant databases

Literature reviews and current awareness

Current awareness

Many academic journals and websites offer search alerts as a convenience to their audiences.   Sign up for an account or register with your favourite ejournal or article database to receive search alerts and/or table of contents by email. 

Guides: Current awareness resources

                Search alerts, web feeds, and RSS


  • BrowZine - brings scholarly, academic journal content together from multiple publishers and platforms into a single place, where you can save your favorite journals, view the tables of contents, and read or save articles, as new issues are released.   Use the BrowZine App to set up table of contents alerts for your favorite journals.  Use BrowZine Web to browse recent issues of journals by subject.
  • LibKey Nomad browser extension - allows you to easily download articles that are available through the library
  • Citation Management software:Zotero, Mendeley, EndNote, other 
  • NVIVO -software to assist with organizing your research (quantitative & qualitative)

Guide: Current Awareness Resources

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.   For an extensive list of the types of documents that might be considered grey literature, see Document types in grey literature (from GreyNet International).

  • Canadian Research Index - to find Canadian government publications
  • Canada Commons (formerly, Canadian Electronic Library from desLibris) - for public policy documents from Canadian institutes, think-tanks and research groups.

Type your search terms into these pre-built searches to limit results to specific organisation types. Use Search tips for Google and Google Scholar to create your search strings. 

  • 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) and the Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) of the American Library Association (ALA). This is a spreadsheet of NGOs included in the project.
  • 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, try the guides: Grey literatureGovernment resources, and internet sources for government information for Other Countries.

Journal rankings

Scholars frequently wish to publish in scholarly journals that are important in their fields.  The resources below rank journals for various disciplines.

For ideas on publishing in Open Access journals, try:

  • Directory of Open Access Journals open access  An index to high quality, peer reviewed open access research journals, periodicals and their articles' metadata.  Each journal must exercise peer-review with an editor and an editorial board or editorial review (particularly in the Humanities) carried out by at least two editors and/or report primary results of research or overviews of research results to a scholarly community.

Catalogue search (SFU) and union catalogues

Books can provide a more in-depth look at topics. 

Search SFU Library Catalogue

As a part of your literature review process, use the SFU Library Catalogue for books, articles and more.  Using the "expand" box will provide results from other libraries that also use the same Integrated Library System (ILS) as SFU Library.  For search tips, try: SFU Library catalogue search guide.

The video provides a short demonstration of Basic and Advanced Searches for SFU Library Catalogue [14:42 mins]. For more search tips, try: SFU Library catalogue search guide.

Image below shows how you can search using SFU Library Catalogue and then select the box to "expand results beyond SFU Library collection.  However this expanded search is limited to libraries which use ExLibris, the same Integrated Library System (ILS) as the one used by SFU Library.

Search other library catalogues

Searching the catalogues below will provide you with resources from other academic and public libraries.

  • WorldCat (restricted to SFU users) - provides information about content of over 9000+ libraries.  If you search WorldCat and SFU does not have the item, use the "Get@SFU" icon to initiate and inter-library loans request from within WorldCat.
  • Library and Archives Canada - provides information about content of Canadian libraries
  • Illume - provides information about the content of BC libraries
  • Center for Research (CRL) Libraries Catalog - collects resources in four major domains: News, Law & Government Information, Science Technology & Engineering, and the History and Economics of Agriculture. Print and digital resources from the CRL collection are available to member institutions through electronic delivery (look for links in the CRL catalog) or through Inter- library loan. SFU Library is a CRL member.

Books on research methods

Guide:  Information on research methods for Anthropology and Sociology

Archival research

An archive preserves the historical records (evidence) and they can be found at local (municipal), provincial or national levels. They could be private or public. Not everything in an archive is available in the digital format.  In addition, some material may have restricted access or have an embargo period before the material is allowed to be viewed.  An archivist tries to maintain the "organization" of the collection which was created by a donor of a collection.  Materials are organized by "fonds" (collections) and usually archivist create finding aids for these collections.

For sources, see Archives

Newspapers and magazine sources

Many times newspaper stories could be the only sources of information on a topic. It is good to figure out if there are indexes for newspapers from a geographic region or a time period.  Although past years of some newspapers have been digitized, many may not have been digitized.  A case in point are the "ethnic" newspapers.  While some newspapers may have their own historical archives, some may not.  Some of the older issues of Canadian newspapers may be available in print or microform (microfilm or microfiche) formats. 

For sources, see Newspapers and magazine sources

Government documents, statistics and data sets

Governments collect and produce information on a variety of topics. You many need to find laws, legislation, regulations, data, statistics, policy documents, reports, budgets & expenditures, etc. The documents may be produced by different levels of the government. This section provides some links to Canadian, USA and international levels of governments.  In addition to searching for documents from different governments, also try seaching the Statista database (captures freely available government data), and the two special search engines from Google (NGO Search, IGO Search)

For sources, see Government documents, statistics and data sets

Finding theses on your topic and submitting your own

Find SFU theses

Finding SFU theses and projects

Summit Institutional Repository

Search syntax: Theses Department of Sociology Anthropology

Watch for name of department in the right-hand column of search results

Find non-SFU theses

Finding theses and projects from other (non-SFU) universities

  • Proquest Dissertations and Theses Abstracts and Index - Database of more than 2 million citations, dating back to 1861, to dissertations accepted for doctoral degrees. Abstracts are available for all records since 1980.
  • Open Access Theses and Dissertations (OATD) open access  Open access graduate theses and dissertations published around the world from colleges, universities, and research institutions.
  • EBSCO Open Dissertations open access  A open-access index to historic and contemporary dissertations and theses primarily in the United States but also from select institutions from around the world. Some citations include links to the full text when available.
  • Theses Canada Free access to the full text of Canadian theses and dissertations that were published from 1998 to August 31, 2002. Citations since 1965.

SFU guidelines for submitting thesis


Open Access and publishing

Citation searching

"Citation searching" is a technique to find scholarly clusters for a research topic.  Take the citation for a key book or journal article and try to see who might have used that citation in their bibliography.

Web of Science  

  • Topic alerts - set up alerts in any category or sub-specialty and receive regular updates of the latest research.
  • Citation Alerting -keep track of particular citations, to see if anyone is citing it in recent journals.
  • You can set up a citation alert whenever you’re reading a full-text article by clicking on "Save as Citation Alert."
  • Web of Science - How to do a Cited Reference Search tutorial [4 min 16 seconds]

Google Scholar

  • For Cited Reference Search.  Look at the link "cited by".
    • search for your "key" article.  Check the link "cited by" right beneath the reference to that article
  • "Citation alerts"
    • TIP: to avoid an overload of irrelevant stuff, set up an alert on the page where you list out "cited references"
      • captures a "wider" range of journals and also includes "book chapters" etc.
  • SFU Authorized users can obtain full text links to SFU Library resources, by going to Google Scholar Settings and clicking on Library links. Then type and select Simon Fraser University - Get@SFU and Save.
    OR use the Off Campus and Wireless Access Bookmarklet to gain access to the full text licensed by SFU Library.

Google Search tips

Search results limited to words in the title of document, using "intitle:".  Use capital "OR" for synonynms. Put braces "()" around words that mean the same thing. 

intitle:Madagascar intitle:(feminist OR feminism)


intitle:Madagascar intitle:Christianity


Search for documents from a particular country's domain.  The example below is for India, with country code of ".in"
  Web country codes

Two special search engines from Google

  • 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) and the Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) of the American Library Association

  • 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).

Inter-Library Loans (ILL) Service

To find out if SFU Library owns a particular book or if it subscribes to a specific journal:

SFU Library has reciprocal borrowing agreements that allow SFU users to borrow materials in person at select post-secondary libraries in BC and across Canada.  See the below agreements for more information:


Research Commons assistance for graduate students

Research Commons  provides support for academic writing and learning at the graduate level


  • Citation Management software:Zotero, Mendeley, EndNote, other
  • NVIVO -software to assist with organizing your research (quantitative & qualitative)
  • Tableau - a data visualization tool that is being used to help analyze data and illustrate the patterns and insights behind them.  Students can request a one-year student license as part of the Tableau for Students program. Request your license.

More software

Writing your dissertation

Library books on writing process


VR (Virtual reality) Studio: Media and Maker Commons

The VR Studio is a space to experience and create augmented and virtual reality content. We use HTC Vive Pro with a wireless adaptor together with a high-end PC that offers the tools: SteamVR, Vive Port, Unity, Autodesk, and Adobe Suite.

Printing and Scanning

Selected library guides