URB 696 : Seminar in Urban Studies

This web page is intended to help you find information for URB 696.   If you need help please contact Nina SmartLiaison Librarian, at 778.782.5043 (Tuesdays and Thursdays) or nsmart@sfu.ca (Monday to Thursday), or Ask a librarian.

Methodology Resources

or: How will I do my research?

Sage Research Methods Online

SRMO is "designed to answer methods questions that arise during the various steps of the research process, including the literature search, review, research design, data collection, analysis, and write up"

Examples: Encyclopedia article: Conceptual Framework (DOI); Video: Tips for Conducting a Qualitative Interview  (DOI); Book chapter: "Asking Questions: Effective Elite Interviews..." (DOI
For visual learners see: Methods Map to see how  research concepts are related
Note: This excellent resource can now be accessed by SFU alumni!


  • Fundamentals of social research [print]  aka "The Babbie" - older editions of this classic work also available
  • Research design in urban planning : a student's guide [online]

Literature review

or: How will I find materials for my Thesis literature review and References sections?

Remember that graduate research is generally not a straight line, but involves iterative searching - you are not doing anything wrong if you are taking an indirect path, searching many resources, and using different kinds of materials

General guides:

General database search tips:

  • use truncation, e.g. transport* to find transportation, transported, etc. all at once
  • syntax: use AND to narrow and OR  to broaden search
  • pearl-growing, or starting with a good article and finding more (see YouTube tutorial, which uses an EBSCO database)
  • search the database's Thesaurus to find useful subject headings/descriptors
  • More search tips in How to find journal articles

Journal articles

Examples of academic article databases (for more databases see listing Urban Studies Databases):

Human geography, urban planning

Environment Complete
Urban planning, public policy 

Sociological Abstracts
Urban sociology, social policy

Transportation research, also covers conference and trade resources (for their subject headings see TRT - Transportation Research Thesaurus)

Citation indexes

or: travelling forward in time

To find newer articles when you have a good but older article:

Major source for research for cited references - not even UBC has it, but we do, until at least the end of 2022!

Web of Science
another classic citation database

You can also use  Google Scholar (this link includes SFU journal access) to see the "Cited By" results

Some  databases, such as GEOBASE, also have the "Cited by/Times cited in this database" function

See also Backwards and forwards citation chaining post from Radical Access

Newspaper article and other databases

While a literature review very often covers academic research in the form of journal articles and monographs, an Urban Studies literature review can also include newspaper articles,  primary resources, grey literature and maps/GIS.  Some links:

News resources: Finding newspaper articles and newspapers
Examples: CBCA Complete fulltext index on Canadian topics, including newspaper articles; Canadian Newsstream national and local papers

Primary sources for the Humanities SFU guide
Examples: City of Vancouver Archives and Vancouver Public Library's Vancouver History

Grey literature: What it is & how to find it  finding materials such as government reports and urban plans
Example: Canada Commons. Canadian public policy documents from government and nonprofit organizations as well as think tanks

Resources on information literacy and evaluating sources

What is information literacy?

"An information literate individual is able to:

  • Determine the extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally."

From:  Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), American Library Association

See also

Introduction to Scholarly Communication
video from the University of Guelph
Research is a Conversation
video from the NVL library
In brief, the Research Lifecycle consists of:  Ideas > Partners > Proposal writing > Research process > Publication


Evaluating sources

In brief, consider:  Authority; Content; Scope; Currency; Objectivity

Finding and evaluating resources
SFU guide: who, what, where, when and why

What is a scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journal?
SFU guide "will help you identify and evaluate scholarly (also known as peer-reviewed) journals, magazines, and trade publications — both print and online"

How do I assess a publisher, journal, or conference?
Section  "Publishing choices" of the Scholarly publishing page, but also useful for researchers to evaluate publishers and journals

Critical Appraisal for Skill Program (CASP)
Including CASP Checklists for systematic reviews, cohorts or qualitative studies, and more.  Created for healthcare workers, but useful for many researchers

Designing social research: a guide for the bewildered  [online and print] See Chapter 2, "Reviewing What Other People Have Said – or How Can I Tell If Others' Research Is Any Good?"

All about journals

A-Z journals
SFU's complete journal listing; search by title keyword or ISSN, including

Is a journal peer-reviewed and where is it indexed? To find out, start with FAQ:

What is peer review? What is a peer-reviewed journal? 

Key journals for Urban studies
Quick links for titles held at SFU

Beall's List of Potential Predatory Journals and Publishers continuing the work of Mr. Beall


Keeping track of your research and citing

Thesis writing

Beware of patch writing!  See this SFU Library example.

(Fall  2022: nothing listed) RC's  Paraphrasing with Purpose and Integrity


Other useful resources: