Refresh your search skills - developing a good search strategy is important
- what is your assignment?
- what is the main topic?
- what aspect of the topic is of interest to you?
- 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? climate, population, government, geography, etc.
- and each new discovery may mean you need to restart your search process
Sample search terms:
- public policy
- public opinion
- political institutions
Once you've decided which terms are the most useful for your search, combine them in a boolean search. For example:
- "public policy" AND ethics AND canad*
- putting quotes aroung a multi-word phrase will search specifically for those words in that sequence
- AND/OR will modify a component to narrow or expand your results (the capitalization of AND/OR varies from database to database, it is better to get in the habit of capitalizing them)
- the * will look for alternate endings
- Some filters to consider applying are: books, or Journals, or Scholarly and/or Peer Review
- If you need immediate results, select 'Available online' so that you only see e-results.
- If you are working on a literature review, then do not restrict your results this way, and include 'Add resources beyond Carleton's collection'.
- You can then narrow your search further by: Publication Date or Discipline, or Subject, etc.
- watch for other phrasing in your results that you can use for further searches
Borrowing from Other Libraries
- Can't find an item in our collection, you can request a print book or a digital article or chapter by searching the title or topic in OMNI or by logging into your library account and filling out this blank request form. Journal articles will be sent to you electronically. For more information please see Interlibrary Loans.
- CRL catalog (Center for Research Libraries): Collects research materials not targeted by other North American research institutions. We are a member which allows you long-term loans of much of their material.
- WorldCat: Search the library catalogues of 1000's of libraries around the world.
Citing and Citation Management tools
We offer a variety of support options for citing your sources and citation management. If you are not already using a citation management tool, I strongly suggest you look into one now. Most of these tools will also allow you to turn your references into properly formatted bibliographies, and with additional plug-ins they can allow you to easily insert your citations into your papers as you write.
- How Canadians govern themselves
- Canadian Parliamentary Guide
- Canadian Who's Who
- Dictionary of Canadian Biography
Research & Writing Guides
Refresh Your Database searching skills:
- Database searching video
A sample of relevant databases:
- Communication and Mass Media Complete
- Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database
- Policy Commons
- Columbia International Affairs Online
- Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
- PAIS Index
- International Political Science Abstracts
- Emerald Management eJournals
Good to know:
- Use RSS Feeds or Create Alerts to have citations sent to you as a database is updated. Search Alerts can be set once you're logged into Omni's My Library Account as well as in most databases. They can help researchers stay current with automatic e-mail alerts
- Within a database, limit your search to scholarly articles when it is appropriate to disregard other resources.
- Never limit to full-text only as we may subscribe to the journal you find from another vendor. Use the Get it! icon to search for the full text when it is not immediately available.
- For additional relevant databases, look at the Subject Guides that best relate to your topic, such as Public Policy and Administration, Canadian Studies, Business, Sociology etc.
Grey literature is an important source of information for research in public policy that:
- adds a valuable global perspective
- provides detailed overviews on specific populations
- may be only source of local information
Grey literature is defined as "information produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing" ie. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body." —ICGL Luxembourg definition, 1997. Expanded in New York, 2004
- Grey Literature Guide (Carleton Library)
- Omni (the Library's main search engine) (narrow results by resource type)
- Dissertations and Theses Global
- Google Scholar (change country, for example, to find international material)
- Databases such as Canadian Business & Current Affairs and Web of Science
- Business Source Complete (select publication type "Grey literature")
- Think Tanks guide
- Canadian Government
- Canadian Government Policy Cycle
- Public Finance: Budgets, Expenditures, Monetary Policy and Audits
- A Guide to the Estimates
- Legislative Process
The Canadian Population
- Government News - Government of Canada Press Releases
- Key Newspapers - Globe and Mail, National Post
- News Magazines - Economist, Hill Times Online, Maclean's
- Audio and Video Clips - CBC News, CPAC, CTV News, Radio Canada, TVA Nouvelles
- Key News Databases
Public Policy Collections and Working Papers
- Policy Commons
- Canadian Public Documents Collection (1996-2019) - publications in the area of Canadian public policy, health and medical research.
- Conference Board of Canada eLibrary - Centre for the North, Centre for Food in Canada, How Canada Performs, etc.
- National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Working Papers
- Policy File Index - Indexes research in U.S. public policy with content from think tanks, university research programs, research organizations, etc.
- Brookings Institute
- Social Research and Demonstration Corporation - develops, field tests, and rigorously evaluates new programs
- Think Tank Search from Harvard Kennedy School
- Think Tanks and Policy Centres from the University of Calgary Library
- GreyNet International directory of organizations in grey literature
- Grey Matters
- Grey Literature Database - Canadian Evaluation Society
- Finding the Hard to Finds: Searching for Grey Literature (University of British Columbia)