Database searching is NOT like Google! Most do not support natural language searching. You have to be precise in the words that you select.
Developing a good search strategy is important
Answer the following questions:
- what is your assignment?
- what is the main topic?
- who has an interest in that topic?
- what other language might they be using to talk about that topic? do they spell it differently?
- when was it relevant? is it a new idea, or a long standing issue?
- what other factors play into your issue? geography, government, people, etc.
Step 1: Write your topic out in sentence or question form
Step 2: Break your topic sentence up into main ideas or keywords
- Canada, government,Indigenous, native, Aboriginal, First Nations, Indian, Inuit, Metis, law, knowledge, self-determination
Step 3: Think of synonyms or alternate words to describe each concept
- law- policy, legislation
- administration, executive
- traditional knowledge, culture and beliefs, experience, social customs and traditions, recorded and oral history, globalization, colonial, settler
Indigenous governance, self-governance, jurisdiction, intergovernmental relations
Tip: Use dictionaries, encyclopedias, or a thesaurus to find alternate words.
Step 4: Add "Boolean operators" (AND, OR) to make a complete search statement
- Use AND to limit or narrow your search to results that mention all of your keywords.
- Use OR to broaden your search to include synonyms (OR terms must be bracketed)
A wildcard is usually represented by a *. This is also called truncation. Sometimes it is represented by a ?
- Canad* AND (law OR policy) AND (native OR aboriginal)
Step 6: Consider Key Phrase searching
Some databases search each word separately. To ensure that your words are evaluated as a key phrase, enclose them in double quotation marks.
- "traditional knowledge" or "oral history"
TIP: Check the About or HELP pages for each database to ensure you are using the correct Boolean operators for that database.
Step 7: Evaluate your results
If you are finding too many or too few results, try these tricks:
To broaden your search (find more):
- Find synonym for each keyword.
- Search for a broader concept ('dog' instead of 'poodle').
- Use wildcards/truncation.
To narrow your search (find fewer):
- Add another concept or idea to your search with AND
- Use more specific words ('poodle' instead of 'dog').
What is a Literature Review?
- Conducting a Literature Review
- Am I the Only One Struggling to Write a Literature Review? (Sage Research Methods)
Sage Research Methods
SAGE Research Methods supports beginning and advanced researchers throughout a research project, from writing a research question, choosing a method, gathering and analyzing data, to writing up and publishing the findings.
- Consult the News Guide for details of news sources
- Tips for searching newspaper databases.
For current Canadian newspapers/news
For historical Canadian & other newspapers
- Globe and Mail: Canada's Heritage from 1844
- New York Times Archives
- Toronto Star: Pages of the Past
- Times Digital Archive
- Government Information - covers a world of subjects including public policy issues, legislative documents and statistics that enrich research.
- Canadian Public Policy Collection
- LegisINFO - information about individual bills, government press releases and backgrounders (for government bills); legislative summaries from the Parliamentary Research Branch; important speeches at second reading; votes; and coming into force data
- Canadian federal government documents
Policy Reports and Working Papers
- Policy Commons
- Conference Board of Canada e-Library Covers areas of Economic Trends, Organizational Performance, and Public Policy.
- NBER (National Bureau of Economics Research) Working Papers
- Canadian Public Documents Collection
- Policy File Index Indexes research on U.S. public policy with content from public policy think tanks, university research programs, research organizations, etc.
- Find policy
Google custom searches for climate, economy, development, foreign policy, public policy, geographic pages and more.
- Alternative words to use instead of "policy": guideline, initiative, strategy, framework
For the fullest information on government policy, it is often necessary to search across the full range of government publications.
- The Debates cover arguments for and against policies
- Statutes codify policies
- The Budget sets out fiscal policy
- The Public Accounts track the money spent to realize the policies
- Annual reports (of departments, of programs, on acts) track implementation of policies
- Statistics measure the impact of policies
- Audit reports evaluate policy effectiveness
- News releases announce new directions in policy
Check the division of powers and responsibilities for different levels of government
Start with OMNI Search engine located on the library home page, allows you to search across many of the library's collections simultaneously.
America History and Life
Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database
Google Scholar For seamless access to the fulltext of articles that are part of the library's collection, take the link from the library page. If you run into difficulty, the instructions for a workaround are on the details page.
CPI-Q (Canadian Periodical Index)
Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
EI Engineering Village
IEEE Xplore Digital Library
SAGE Journals Online
Use the OMNI search engine to find books, government documents, conference proceedings, and journals.
Detailed instructions for using Omni can be found on the library's Omni Help Guide.
Contents of this guide include:
- Cambridge University Press eBooks.
- Canadian Publishers Collection Includes major Canadian University Presses, among them the University of Toronto Press, the UBC Press, Les Presses de l'Université du Québec and McGill-Queen's University Press.
- eBook Collection (EBSCOhost)
- Ebook Central (previously ebrary® e-books) Fulltext of books from academic publishers, as well as books and reports from Canadian research institutes, government agencies and university centres.
- Google Books
- Oxford Scholarship Online: ebook collections from Oxford University Press covering Economics & Finance, Business & Management, and Political Science.
- Scholars Portal Books Fulltext available for books from the following publishers: Springer, Oxford University Press, American Psychological Association, Cambridge University Press, Canadian presses and government and non-governmental organizations
- Springer eBooks
- UC Press E-Books Collection, 1982-2004
- Wiley Online Library
See a full list of ebook collections.
American Psychological Association Resources (APA)
What Needs to be Cited?
- Exact wording taken from any source, including freely available websites
- Paraphrases of passages
- Summaries of another person's work
- Use of another student's work
- Use of your own previous work
Why is Citing Sources Important?
- To give credit to ideas that are not your own
- To provide support for your argument
- To enable your reader to find and read the sources you used
- To avoid infractions
Commonly used terms
- Access Date: The date you first look at a source. Add the access date to the end of citations for all websites except library databases.
- Citation: The details about one source you are citing.
- Citing: The process of acknowledging the sources of your information and ideas.
- In-Text Citation: A brief note in your paper or essay at the point where you use information from a source to indicate where the information came from. An in-text citation should always match more detailed information that is available in the Works Cited List.
- Paraphrasing: Taking information that you have read and putting it into your own words.
- Plagiarism: Taking the ideas or words of another person and using them as your own.
- Quoting: Copying words of text originally published elsewhere. Direct quotations generally appear in quotation marks and end with a citation.
- Reference List: Contains details on ALL the sources cited in a text or essay, and supports your research