Global & International Studies

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

Research Tip Sheet (pdf)

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
  • Do some background reading on your topic using Wikipedia

Identify key concepts

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.  Try using Wikipedia or the reference tool below to find key words.

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


  • Use keywords only, DO NOT search using a full sentence.
  • Combine keywords for different ideas with AND
    • Search by keyword for specific topics: Globalization AND women
    • Or by country: Globalization AND China
  • Combine synonyms or similar words for an idea with OR. Use as many synonyms as you want but they must be in brackets and have OR between each term.
    • (international OR global OR multinational)
  • Capitalize your AND and OR terms
  • Use the * at the end of the root of a word to find all the forms of that word
  • Use " " quotation marks to find a phrase such as "human rights"

Use Filters offered by the database

Controlled vocabulary

Some databases have a list of terms used to index articles in a consistent manner.  These terms can be used to search for relevant material.

This list may be referred to as:

  • Thesaurus
  • Subject Headings
  • Taxonomy
  • Synonyms

As you read through a list of search results, take note of any new terms that are relevant to your topic.  Search using these new terms.

Useful guides 

It is also important to understand the difference between Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources, including how to locate and use them.

Omni Searching

Covid 19 Updates: 

The library's search tool Omni lets you do just one search to find books, newspaper articles, journal articles, and other types of resources. 

See Boolean Search Tips above in Getting Started with Your Research

Narrow your search by:

  • Resource Type
  • Publication Date
  • Subject 
  • Language
  • Location

Fulltext eBook Collections: 

Journal Articles 

Academic Journals vs. Popular Magazines and Newspapers

Start with the Omni search box to search across most of the library's databases. Use the main keywords from your research topic. As you retrieve results, use the filters on the left of the screen to narrow or broaden your search. Guide on finding articles in OMNI.

Specialized Databases

Grey Literature

Grey literature is an important source of information for research. It provides access to a broad range of information and often contains new ideas. Searching grey literature also offers the potential to balance any tendencies for publication bias found in published literature. It helps introduce alternative perspectives that may not be represented in standard literature.

The main thing to know about grey literature is that it is NOT produced by a body whose primary activity is publishing.  So, if you see Oxford University Press, Random House, Penguin, Macmillan etc. etc. it is NOT grey literature.

Examples of grey literature include:

technical reports research reports committee reports
market reports conference papers white papers
posters pamphlets blogs
clinical trials podcasts government documents
speeches theses and dissertations newsletters

Grey Literature - the Best place to start

Other resources for finding grey literature

Policy Reports and Working Papers

Think Tanks

Government Information

Tips for Searching News Databases

  • Factiva (Globe and Mail, The Economist and the Wall Street Journal live here)
  • Nexis Uni
  • Canadian Newsstream  Access to over 280 Canadian news sources
  • PressReader provides pdf access to newspapers and magazines from more than 100 countries in over 55 languages. The collection currently exceeds 5,000 titles.
  • Global Terrorism Database - provides information on terrorist attacks around the world since 1970 with annual updates

A small sample of titles available online through the OMNI:

Content last reviewed: February 3, 2021