Develop a search statement to search databases (including news databases), the catalogue, and other academic sources
A search statement includes a list of keywords, combined using Boolean Operators (AND; OR; NOT)
- AND - this will combine concepts, all of which must be found in your list of results
- media AND children
- OR - either this concept or that concept (or both). This is helpful for generating a list of synonyms. Use synonyms to anticipate the different ways different authors may refer to the same idea. A thesaurus can be helpful for this
- internet OR web OR online
- NOT - do not include this concept
- Mexico NOT city
- Quote marks - find a specific phrase
- "human rights"
- Truncation - any other combination of letters to follow
- Canad* - will find Canada, Canadian, Canadian's, etc.
- journalis* - will find journalism, journalist, journalistic, etc.
- Combine one or more of these operators
- Put a list of synonyms in brackets
(smartphone OR "mobile phone" OR "cell phone") AND (societ* OR cultur*)
Pick a research topic:
- Read your syllabus (assignment instructions).
- Pick a topic that interests you and meets the assignment instructions.
- Narrow or broaden the scope of your topic so that it is "doable."
What's scope? Scope refers to the "people, places and things" or "who, what, when and where" that you are studying.
Identify key concepts:
Define and get an overview of your topic or find definitions of key terms and concepts:
- Oxford Reference - Use dictionaries to help with terminology. Encyclopedias provide background information, an overview of topics and issues and often lead you to further readings
- Encyclopedia of Government and Politics (online)
- Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations
- Encyclopedia of International Relations and Global Politics (online)
- Internet censorship a reference handbook
- Handbook of public policy agenda setting
- Routledge handbook of public policy
- The Routledge handbook of global public policy and administration
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)
- Think Tank Search - search limited to think tanks dealing in public policy, including NGOs (non-governmental organizations)
- Google.ca (advance)
- site: - limits your search to a specific site
- site: - limits your search to a specific site
- Google Newspaper Archive
- Google Alerts
- Google Trends
What's wrong with Google?
Google returns results on the basis of popularity. While popular beliefs are sometimes correct, we can all think of many instances when they are not correct. Since the internet itself -- the source of all of Google's results -- includes all sorts of misinformation, one cannot be certain that results returned from Google are absolutely reliable.
Google is fine for our everyday use: In everyday life, we often use Google to find generally agreed upon facts about a topic. But generally agreed upon topics aren't the focus of academic scholarship: scholars make arguments that often challenge presupposed facts, and need extremely reliable sources to strengthen their arguments. But all too often, the sources produced by Google do not provide enough evidence to verify the reliability of the information and facts they publish.
Also, academic articles often will not to appear on websites searched by Google, because they are stored in subscription-only databases that provide limited access.
Did you know that you have a filter bubble around you right now? That every time you do a search on Google, it tailors the results based on your previous search history? Did you know that your search results will look different if you use Google on campus as opposed to using it at a cafe? It's because Google is making certain assumptions about you based on your IP address. While we all like customized information there is a real danger of being so trapped inside your filter bubble that you never see the other side of a story. In order to be better informed, we need to know what each side is saying about an issue and not fall for confirmation bias (reading only sources that already fall in line with our current views). Here are two free resources to help you do just that!
- All Sides
Unlike regular news services, AllSides exposes bias and provides multiple angles on the same story so you can quickly get the full picture, not just one slant.
"Promoting critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, primarily pro-con format."
- All Sides
Other search engines
- Government Information - Canadian or International background information
- LegisINFO -information about individual bills, government press releases and backgrounders (for government bills)
- Government of Canada InfoBase - federal data converted into visual stories
- Bank of Canada
- Government of Canada- Departmental results reports
- Government of Canada Spend data by department
For more information explore the guide Canadian Government Information and Statistics
- Looking for a specific newspaper
- From a single country, a good strategy is to span the political spectrum:
- In Canada: Globe and Mail (centre), Toronto Star (left), National Post (right)
- Wikipedia tends to list a newspaper’s political alignment
- Paper of Record: major newspaper of a country considered an authoritative record of events:
- For international topics:
- Globe and Mail (Canada)
- New York Times (United States)
- The Times of London (United Kingdom)
- Le Monde (France)
- search in OMNI to find a specific newspaper title
- Not all newspapers we subscribe to are indexed in the OMNI
- Once you find newspaper, ensure that coverage goes back far enough
Newspapers, Magazines and Trade Publications(use Boolean Operators)
- Canadian Newsstream - Canadian
- Factiva - Canadian and international
- Nexis Uni - Canadian and international
- PressReader (Full-image international newspapers)
- Academic OneFile
- Business Source Complete
- Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database
How a topic was discussed on television/radio broadcasts; great for interviews/panel discussions with experts
- For international topics:
|Lean left/center left||Center||Lean right/ center right|
Information based on the https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/
Explore News Guide for more news-related resources
This guide lists selected sources of alternative perspective on topics and events. For the purposes of this guide "alternative" means that which does not represent society's mainstream or dominant ideology. However, some alternative media sources are widely read and could be considered mainstream. Both progressive and conservative resources are included, as both are arguably excluded from the mainstream media.
Selected news publications
- Briarpatch | website
- Canadian Dimension | website
- The Dominion
- Adbusters | website
- The American Prospect | website
- Christian Science Monitor | website
- The Intercept [US]
- In These Times | website
- Mother Jones | website
- Middle East Report | website
- The Nation | website
- New Left Review
- The Patriot Post (conservative)
- ProPublica: Journalism in the Public Interest.
- Utne Reader
- Z magazine | website
These sites compile links to news stories from other sources:
- Alternet provides a mix of news, opinion and investigative journalism; a project of the Indepdendent Media Institute.
- AltWeeklies.com news and arts reporting from more than 100 US and Canadian alternative newsweeklies.
- Bourque Newswatch Canadian breaking news and media links.
- CNSNews.com Conservative news portal.
- Common Dreams News Center US based "Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community" member funded.
- Drudge Report Popular US news site maintained by controversial, self-styled reporter Matt Drudge; includes numerous links to newspapers, newswires and columnists.
- Institute for Global Communications (IGC) With links to PeaceNet, EcoNet, WomensNet, and Anti-racismNet, the IGC "is a gateway for people who want quick access to alternative news and political analysis, or an easy way to search for information and web sites of progressive organizations."
- Inter Press Service News Agency International, non-profit organization formed of "a network of journalists in more than 100 countries....focuses its news coverage on the events and global processes affecting the economic, social and political development of peoples and nations" no national or political base and pursues the objectives of balanced geographical, ethnic and gender representation.
- Oneworld.net International network of values-based co-operative centers with news from global sources.
- WikiNews News source that anyone can contribute to; searchable by region, country or topic.
Directories of alternative publications and organizations
Use these directories to find alternative news sites and publications by name ( e.g. The Tyee), by type (e.g blog or news weekly), by topic (e.g. health policy or GLBT), or by location published (e.g. Canadian or US publications)
- Alternative Press Centre's Alternative Press on the Web Organized by site name or category.
- BlogsCanada Directory of Blogs Canadian blogs categorized into topics such as Politics, News and Information, Beliefs, Business & Finance, Society, etcetera.
- Care2.com News Network Resources organized by issues such as Environment, World, Business, etcetera.
- independentmedia.ca "A directory of non-corporate journalism" lists Canadian print, online, radio, and TV news, "independent" weeklies, student press, a list of of Canadian directories, and opinion websites.
- Newpages.com Categorised list of independent bookstores, independent publishers, literary periodicals, alternative periodicals, independent record labels, alternative newsweeklies and more.
- ZComm Portal for a range of ZCommunications (ZMag, ZNet, ZBlogs, ZVideo) alternative media operations and projects, including news, print, blogs, and video.
Media watchdog and activist sites
- Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives "Independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justice".
- Friends of Canadian Broadcasting Includes Media Monitor, a database of news stories on the broadcasting system, media ownership and cultural policies.
- Your Media.ca Information on Canada's largest media conglomerates; launched 17 March 2004 by Canada/CWA, one of the country's largest media unions.
- Centre for Research on Globalization (globalresearch.ca) an independent, non-profit research and media group of writers, scholars, journalists and activists based in Quebec, featuring news feeds sorted by region and by topic.
US and international
- Adbusters "Articles as well as activist commentary from around the world addressing issues ranging from genetically modified foods to media concentration".
- Accuracy in Media (AIM) Non-profit, grassroots citizens watchdog of the news media that seeks to balance a perceived liberal bias in the mainstream media.
- Centre for Digital Democracy "Preserving the openness and diversity of the Internet in the broadband era, and realizing the full potential of digital communications through the development and encouragement of noncommercial, public interest programming".
- Consumers Union Reports
- FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) US-based "national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986".
- FreePress (US-based) - "a national nonpartisan organization working to increase informed public participation in crucial media policy debates, and to generate policies that will produce a more competitive and public interest-oriented media system with a strong nonprofit and noncommercial sector".
- Media Democracy Project (annual conference Media Democracy Day)
- Media Lens a UK-based media-watch project.
- Media Matters for America "Not-for-profit, progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media".
- Project Censored "Media research group which tracks the news published in independent journals and newsletters and compiles an annual list of 25 news stories of social significance that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the country's major national news media".
- Pew Research Journalism Project "An initiative by journalists to clarify and raise the standards of American journalism"
- Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch Project to investigate and expose public relations spin and propaganda. Includes the archives of the PR Watch, a quarterly investigative journal; and SourceWatch, a wiki-based directory of the people, organizations and issues shaping the public agenda (formerly Disinfopedia).
Television, video and radio
- AR: Alternative Radio
- Democracy Now! independent TV and radio news programming.
- Free Speech TV
- Paper Tiger Television "PTTV programs analyze and critique issues involving media, culture and politics."
Blogs, wikis and podcasts
- Between the Lines Weekly podcast of news stories and interviews marginalised by the mainstream press.
- BlogsCanada Directory of Blogs Canadian blogs directory organized into categories. Topics include Beliefs & Causes, News & Media, Politics and Opinions, etcetera.
- BriarBlogs Blogs from the Briarpatch magazine website.
- Columbia Journalism Review "Critique of political journalism; analysis of the larger forces -- political, economic, technological, social legal -- that affect press performance day in and day out; monitoring and critiquing the journalism of the business and financial press."
- Dooney's Cafe: an alternate news source Canadian based opinion, analysis and writing; contributors include Stan Persky, Myrna Kostash, and George Bowering.
- Ethical Martini A look at media ethics, intended for students, journalists, media consumers, and other newsworkers.
- SourceWatch A wiki-based investigative journalism resource from the Center for Media and Democracy.
- Z Blogs Bloggers include Noam Chomsky and Michael Albert.
Explore the guide for Fake News and Content Evaluation
Factual Reporting vs. News Analysis
"Evaluating news sources is one of the more contentious issues out there. People have their favorite news sources and don't like to be told that their news source is untrustworthy.
For fact-checking, it's helpful to draw a distinction between two activities:
- News Gathering, where news organizations do investigative work, calling sources, researching public documents, checking and publishing facts, e.g. the getting the facts of Bernie Sanders involvement in the passage of several bills.
- News Analysis, which takes those facts and strings them into a larger narrative, such as 'Senator Sanders an effective legislator behind the scenes" or 'Senator Sanders largely ineffective Senator behind the scenes.'
Most newspaper articles are not lists of facts, which means that outfits like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times do both news gathering and news analysis in stories. What has been lost in the dismissal of the New York Times as liberal and the Wall Street Journal as conservative is that these are primarily biases of the news analysis portion of what they do. To the extent the bias exists, it's in what they choose to cover, to whom they choose to talk, and what they imply in the way they arrange those facts they collect. The news gathering piece is affected by this, but in many ways largely separate, and the reputation for fact checking is largely separate as well." [italics and emphasis added]
Data and Statistics Literacy
Becoming an astute user of news content in the media means learning to understand the proper use of data and statistics in the news. Watch Mona Chalabi's TED talk, "3 Ways to Spot a Bad Statistic."
Explore this brief article, written for journalists, to increase your general media literacy. Learn to spot the misuse of numbers! "Become Data Literate in 3 Simple Steps."
Start with the OMNI search box on the library's homepage: searches most databases and other resources simultaneously
Other useful databases to find journal articles for this course include:
- Business Source Complete
- Communication and Mass Media Complete
- Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
- International Political Science Abstracts
- America History and Life
- Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database (previously CBCA Complete)
- Canadian Public Documents Collection
- Political Science Database (previously ProQuest Political Science)
- Dissertations and Theses Global