SA 255: Introduction to social research

Research help

This guide will provide assistance with finding scholarly material to support the research paper assignment.  For Library research help, please contact Moninder Lalli, Librarian for Sociology / Anthropology by email or Ask a librarian.

See also SFU Library guide: Research Methods for Anthropology and Sociology


Start Your Research Here - This page gives you an overview of the research process, or in other words how to find materials for your essay.

Selected encyclopedias and handbooks

Get an overview of a topic by using encyclopedias, handbooks or textbook.  These types of resources identify key authors, theories and  important resources on a topic. 

Tip:  Check out the Further Reading lists at the end of each encyclopedia entry for citations to key works on that topic!

For more, try, "Background information - Anthropology" and "Background information - Sociology"

Research question example

Question: What are the causes of teen homelessness?

  • Break down your topic into concepts or keywords.
  • Are there other words that could describe each of these concepts

Create a concept map

Library Research Concepts Worksheet (Concept Map / Keywords)

Concept 1 Concept 2
homeless* teen*
Related Terms Related Terms
runaway youth

Combine concepts

homeless* AND (teen* OR youth) AND (poverty OR poor) AND (BC OR British Columbia)

Databases for journal articles, newspapers and government reports

  • Sociological Abstracts: Key database for Sociology.
  • Anthropology Plus: Key database for Anthropology. 
  • Social Sciences Full Text - access to social science journals
  • Canada Commons (formerly: Canadian Electronic Library from desLibris) - Contains the full text of public policy documents from institutes, think-tanks and research groups.
  • CBCA Complete - indexes Canadian journals
  • Canadian Newsstream - indexes Canadian newspapers
  • Canadian Research Index - indexes Canadian government reports.  All documents found in the database are available in the Microlog microfiche collection (JL 044 37) on the Sixth Floor of the Bennett Library. Individual reports are filed by the MICROLOG NUMBER.   Also try doing an internet search for the report and the name of the government department.
  • Women's Studies International - The key database for women's issues with a feminist perspective.
  • Ageline - indexes articles from journals and magazines, books, research reports, and videos related to issues of ageing and life at 50+.
  • Sage Research Methods Online - Reference books by Sage on social sciences research methods.

Find books in the Library

Catalogue search will find books, journal articles, videos, government reports and more.  After doing a search, you can limit your search results by "Resource type" of "Books."  

Library Catalogue search guide

Search the SFU Library Catalogue

homeless* AND(teen* OR youth)AND(poverty OR poor)AND (BC OR British Columbia)

From the results list, check the Subject Headings of books that look relevant. Click on the "Subjects" links to find other books on the same topic.


Subject headings for books

Browse Search by "Subject".  Change the default "title" to "subject" and enter your subject term(s).  Browse by Subject will only result in books, not book chapters or journal articles.

Community Research

Nature and society

Public spaces

Research methods

For more: Information on research methods for Anthropology and Sociology

Social conditions


Urban design

Find journal articles

Use the Where can I get this? link to find digital copies or print copies of articles. See also  How to find journal articles Library guide.


    Statistics Canada 

    Statistics Canada is the major statistical gathering agency of the federal government. It publishes the "whole range of statistics on the economic and social activities of the Canadian people". There are daily, weekly, quarterly, annual and irregular publications. They also publish the Census of Canada at five-year intervals. They also have an  Advanced Search Engine.

    National Census Information

    Start by looking at the Canadian Census Program.

    Postal Code Search

    Library guides

    Provincial Census -- British Columbia

    BC Statistics collects and publishes reports of statistics from Statistics Canada, provincial government ministries and agencies and from administrative files.

    For more details check out the Library guide on BC Statistics.


    Library guides

    Writing help

    Selected resources on writing essays: