During COVID-19 I am available by email as well as for virtual meetings. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you need assistance, or have any questions. Margaret.
Pick a research topic
- Read your assignment instructions carefully
- Pick a topic that interests you and meets the criteria of the assignment
- Identify key concepts of your research topic
- Need extra help? Click on Choosing an essay topic
- Do some background reading on your topic using Wikipedia
- Using Wikipedia wisely (video)
Subject specific dictionaries and encyclopedias are useful for helping you figure out the jargon of a discipline and can give quick overviews of a topic to get you started. You can often pick up keywords to use in your search strategies from these sources:
- New encyclopedia of Africa
- Dictionary of African Biography
- Oxford research encyclopedias. African history
- Encyclopedia of twentieth-century African history
- Student encyclopedia of African literature
- The African studies companion : a guide to information sources
- A Political and Economic Dictionary of Africa
Note: Historical dictionaries exist for almost all of the African Nations. To find them, do a TITLE search in the OMNI
- Example: Historical Dictionary of Algeria
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.
Once you've decided which terms are the most useful for your search, combine them in a boolean search.
For example: Africa* AND (poetry OR literature OR composition)
- the brackets keep synonyms together
- the * will look for alternate endings
- 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)
- if you had a multi-word phrase, putting quotes around it will search specifically for those words, in that sequence, side by side such as "Human Rights"
Filters in the databases you probably want to apply include: Scholarly/Peer Reviewed
Use this worksheet to write out your research topic and identify key ideas.
Explore your topic
Introducing the library's search engine (OMNI) - which makes it possible to search across many of the library's collections simultaneously. Including books, ebooks, journal titles, games, music, videos, government information, maps, and more.
However, it doesn't search everything that the library owns or subscribes to so you will still need to search other resources, such as the subject related databases found below, to find everything that you need.
Read the section on developing a good search strategy and using boolean searching above.
When to use the library's search engine:
- When starting research on a topic
- If you are not sure which databases to use
Find background information about a specific African country in EIU.com (Economist Intelligence Unit) which provides country reports and country profiles.
Key Subject related databases for Journal Articles
- Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
- International Political Science Abstracts
- Columbia International Affairs Online
- Business Source Complete
Additional journal article databases found in the library:
- Africa Development Indicators
- African Journals Online
- Anthropology Plus
- Historical Abstracts
- Quarterly Index of African Periodical Literature
- PAIS Index (previously PAIS International)
- Sociological Abstracts
- World Bank e-Library
- Web of Science
- World Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology Abstracts
- Literary Sources
- ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
- Gender Studies Database
- Women Writers Project
- Political Science Database (previously ProQuest Political Science)
- Dissertations and Theses Global
Other Databases found online:
- Africa by ELDIS (Electronic Development and Environment Information System)
The best online database on topics related to development and the environment in Africa. Use the document search to find Africa relevant documents.
Tips for effective searching
If you find one relevant article for your research it can lead to other relevant papers by the following:
- using the databases, including OMNI, look to find all papers & books published by the author or co-authors.
- Explore the bibliography in the paper for more sources.
Fulltext eBook Collections:
We house a major research collection of official publications for the study of Africa. This collection has been actively developed since 1970 and has received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Extensive coverage is given to documentation from: Countries which were former British colonies: Examples: Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Algeria | Angola | Benin | Botswana | Burkina Faso | Burundi | Cameroon | Cape Verde | Central African Republic | Chad | Djibouti | Egypt | Equatorial Guinea | Eswatini (formerly Zwaziland) | Ethiopia | Gabon | Gambia | Ghana | Guinea-Bissau | Ivory Coast | Lesotho | Liberia | Madagascar | Malawi | Mali | Mauritania | Mauritius | Morocco | Niger | Nigeria | Republic of South Sudan | Rwanda | Senegal | Seychelles | Sierra Leone | Somalia | South Africa | Tanzania | Tunisia | Uganda | Togo | Zambia | Zimbabwe |
African Union (AU) (formerly known as Organization of African Unity)
- Resolutions of the ... ordinary session of the Council of Ministers
- Decisions and declarations of the assembly
- Decisions and declarations of the executive council
- African Court on Human and People's Rights
- Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA)
- OAU/AU Treaties, Conventions, Protocols & Charters
- Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)
- African Union handbook 2014
Historical documents may have been included in the Africa Contemporary record which we hold for 1968-1983.
- The Commission
- The Community Parliament
- The Community Court of Justice
- ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID)
- United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
- United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization for Africa
- United Nations Habitat Regional Office for Africa
- United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe
Government offices and international agencies with an interest in Africa include:
- The Commonwealth
- UK National Archives catalogue
- U.K. Parliamentary Papers (1801-)
- U.S. Central Intelligence Agency see the World Fact Book
- U.S. Department of State
- U.S. Office of Strategic Services. O.S.S./ State Department Intelligence and Research Reports
- National Archives Catalog, University Publications of America
- Internet Archive - Open Library - University Publications of America
- World Bank in Africa - see also World Bank e-Library
- World Health Organization (WHO) - Regional Office for Africa
- Africa Resources - Research Guides at United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library
What is the Difference Between Data and Statistics?
Data are the raw materials out of which statistics are produced, usually available as digital files for manipulation in statistical software. To find data resources available to Carleton faculty, staff and students see Find Data. Statistics are facts or figures that tend to be aggregate counts, totals, sums, or averages.
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
- ECOWAS data and statistics
- West African Monetary Agency Data portal
- West African Power Pool statistical dashboard
- ECOWAS Observatory for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency: Analysis & charts, also features Country profiles, Maps viewer and Analysis & trends
A portal for statistical data collected by the United Nations and its related international organizations containing over 55 million data points that cover a wide range of themes. Found here is the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Databank.
Links to a wide range of data resources including Africa Development Indicators freely available from the World Bank. Find here Sub-Saharan Africa data
Access to selected free statistics via Stat.Extracts. The Library also subscribes to the more comprehensive OECD i-Library.
Data about international economic development assistance.
Carleton Archives and Special Collections
- Douglas Anglin fonds
- The Uganda Collection
- Archives and Research Collections (the Uganda collection)
- Gemini - Uganda Asians, c. 1972
Library and Archives Canada Collections
- Thematic Guides - South African War
- South African War, 1899-1902 - Service Files, Medals and Land Applications
- Archives de l'Afrique Équatoriale Française
- Archives of WHO
- International Monetary Fund Archives
- National Archives UK
- UNESCO Archives
- United Nations Archives
- World Bank Group Archives
How to search for primary sources:
Search your topic (or historical person of interest) using the library's main search box to find primary sources (or reproductions) in our collection. Keyword searches that include the following terms will identify primary materials most of the time.
- Diar* (for diary or diaries)
- Personal narrative
Other search tips:
Use bibliographies and footnotes of secondary sources on your topic to help identify primary source material.
Original documents can also be found by searching our archival collections or by contacting the Archives and Special Collections (ASC) staff for help. The library has many microform collections of primary sources as well. Please ask for assistance at the Research Help Desk.
Carleton University Library is a member of the CRL consortium. It regularly acquires and preserves newspapers, journals, documents, archives, and other traditional and digital resources for research and teaching and makes them available to member institutions through your RACER account. Especially explore the Cooperative Africana Materials Project (CAMP) and other material found here.
Online Primary Sources
- AGSL Digital Photo Archive: Africa (University of Milwaukee)
- Africa Oral Narratives
- Africa Through a Lens (The National Archives, UK)
- African Activist Archive
- African National Congress Historical Documents Archive
- African Online Digital Library (Michigan State University)
- Ancient Manuscripts from the Desert of Libraries Timbuktu (Library of Congress)
- Apartheid South Africa 1948-1980
- Archives and Primary Sources Databases
- Archives de l'Afrique Équatoriale Française
- British Pathe Film Archive
- Colonial Film Database
- Digital Innovation South Africa (DISA)
Freely accessible online scholarly resource focusing on the socio-political history of South Africa, particularly the struggle for freedom from 1950 to 1994.
Documents dealing primarily with the British Empire including Africa.
- Genocide Archive of Rwanda
- HathiTrust Digital Library
- Images of Colonialism (Harvard)
- International Mission Photography Archive
- Internet Archive
- Library of Congress Digital Collections
- Malcolm X , the FBI Files
- NAACP: A Century in the Fight for Freedom, 1909-2009
The Library of Congress's largest single collection is the NAACP papers. This exhibition shows documents from this collection which have been digitized.
- Nelson Mandela Archive
- New York Public Library Digital Collections
- Periodical Archive Online
- The Rwanda Documents Project
- Ross Archive of African Images (Yale)
- South African History Archive
- South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid Building Democracy
- The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission Videotape Collection
- South African Medical Journal 1884-2002
- Say it Plain, Say it Loud A Century of Great African American Speeches
- Slavery Abolition and Social Justice
- Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora
- Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture & Law
- Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
- World Digital Library (UNESCO)
- Africa Confidential
- African Newspapers (coverage 1800-1922)
news, analysis and advocacy
- Africa | IPS Inter Press Service
- African Union: What's Happening
- BBC Focus on Africa Magazine Archive
- BBC News | Africa
- African News from World Press Review
- Africa Review
online news magazine
- Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports
- The Guardian (1821-2003) [U.K.]
- Historical Papers held by the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
- Kenya Gazette 1906-2011
- The New Humanitarian: Africa
- The Observer (1791-2003) [U.K.]
- Think Africa Press (African Research Institute)
- Times Digital Archive (The London Times) 1785-1985 [U.K.]
- World-Newspapers - Africa
Consult the News Guide for details of news sources.
International news sources:
- Continuum Economics excellent news monitoring service
- World News Connection Archive
- The Story of Africa (BBC)
- Africa in Focus (Brookings)
- Africa Portal
- Africa South of the Sahara: Selected Internet Resources
- African Studies Association
- Guide to Africa on the Internet (Nordic Africa Institute)
- H-Africa: Africa Past and Present
- Index on Africa (Norwegian Council for Africa)
- African Human Rights Resources (University of Minnesota)
- South African History Online
- The Story of Africa (BBC)
- African Arguments
- African Books Collective (index of major African publishers)
- 16th-20th Century Maps of Africa
- AfricaMap (Harvard)
- Africa Maps (Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas)
- Animated Atlas of African History (Brown University)
- Boer War Maps (Canadian War Museum)
- Evolution of the Map of Africa (Princeton University)
- Historical Maps of Africa (University of Texas)