Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership (PANL)

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:

  • nonprofit
  • leadership
  • management
  • philanthropy
  • charities
  • voluntarism
  • entrepreneurship
  • social surveys
  • qualitative research

Once you've decided which terms are the most useful for your search, combine them in a boolean search. For example:

  • (philanthropy OR nonprofit) AND canad*
    • the brackets keep together a variation in phrasing
    • 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
  • 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 any other words that are being used in your results, for example, 'charity' may be more common in some contexts than 'philanthropy', search both

Borrowing from Other Libraries

  • RACER is our online Interlibrary Loan system.  Use it to search for and order books, journal articles, and other items that you can't find in our collection. Journal articles will be sent to you electronically. For more information please see Interlibrary Loans. You can also Borrow directly from other libraries.
  • 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.

Other aids for writing

You can also search for Academic writing or Dissertation writing in the Library's search box.

Refresh Your Database searching skills:

A sample of relevant databases:

Databases for theses and dissertations:

Good to know:

  1. 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
  2. Within a database, limit your search to scholarly articles when it is appropriate to disregard other resources.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.​

Find missing citations, track references and find related articles

Why is this important?

  • Cited Reference Searching guide
  • keeping track of how many times and where a publication is being cited can help you gauge the impact that article has in your discipline
  • if the article has been cited, you may find a link to the citing article/author
  • to locate current research based on earlier research
  • to find out how a particular research topic is being used to support other research
  • to track the history of a research idea
  • to track the research history of a researcher
  • to determine how well your own published research is cited for promotion/tenure considerations
  • don't forget to keep track of your searches! Literature Reviews: Keep Track (UBC)      

Web of Science    

  • Select Cited Reference Search from just above search box.
    • You have the article        
      • "Street Credentials and Management Backgrounds: Careers of Nonprofit Executives in an Evolving Sector" by  Suarez, DF (Suarez, David F.)  Nonprofit and voluntary sector quarterly  Volume: 39   Issue: 4   Pages: 696-716   AUG 2010
    • Enter the author in cited author box
      • Suarez, D*  (use surname, first initial and truncation symbol)          
    • Retrieve abbreviation of journal name from list provided, and enter year of publication.  NONPROF VOLUNT SEC Q   2010
      • From the list, select the article and click on Finish Search - top right.
      • Results show the article has been cited 30 times - the most recent in  2018.
  • Note the option Create Alert to be notified of any future citing of this article.


  • Choose Author Search from top tool bar.
    • Enter author's name and affiliation if known
      • Waters, R.D.
      • North Carolina State University
    • Select displayed result.  All published articles by the author will be listed.  Click on article for citing references. "What do Stakeholders Like on Facebook? Examining Public Reactions to Nonprofit Organizations' Informational, Promotional, and Community-Building Messages" by Saxton, G.D., and Waters, R.D..   Journal of Public Relations Research Volume 26, Issue 3, May 2914, Pages 280-299
    • Look to the right hand side of the screen - this article has been cited 87 times.  Click to 'view all citing documents'. 
      • Note #2: "Do CSR Messages Resonate? Examining Public Reactions to Firms' CSR Efforts on Social Media" Journal of Business Ethics  Volume 155, Issue 2, June 2019, Pages 359-377  has been cited 3 times. 
  • Remember to see if a citing article has itself been cited! 

Journal Ranking   

Journal Citation Reports - Provides citation-based metrics to rank journals within a given discipline.  Choose Select Categories and limit by subject areas.

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 sources
  • using Web of Science or Scopus, look for articles that cite the article you found. Remember, some databases will also list citing articles but those lists are limited to the current database. The Web of Science and Scopus are more comprehensive, with coverage from multiple databases. 
  • Remember to see if a citing article has itself been cited.

Jump toThink Tanks | Public Policy | News 

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

Library resources

Government Information 

Think Tanks

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News & Current Events

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Public Policy Collections and Working Papers

Further resources

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What is a Literature Review?

​A literature review is both a summary and an explanation of the complete and current state of knowledge on a narrowed topic as found in academic books and journal articles.

Am I the Only One Struggling to Write a Literature Review? (Sage Research Methods)

What are the Purposes of a Literature Review?

  • situate your work in its discipline/area/subfield 
  • develop an understanding of how knowledge in your discipline/field/area has changed over time
  • develop mastery of what's known in your area, and part of the larger discipline that contains it
  • compare different conceptual or sub-disciplinary approaches to your topic
  • compare and contrast different theoretical schools or leading researchers in your area
  • identify methodologies that you might use in your work

Types of Literature Reviews

Keep Track of your searches

Search for pre-existing literature reviews

Some databases include "literature review" as one of the limit options you can set before or after doing your search: your search will retrieve only literature reviews. PsycInfo allows for this under Advanced Search.

However in most databases, you will have to add a term for "literature review" to your search. Other search terms that may be helpful:

  • review article
  • systematic review
  • critical review
  • literature
  • bibliography
  • meta-analysis, meta analysis 
  • re-analysis of data

Guides to literature reviews


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.  Statistics are facts or figures that tend to be aggregate counts, totals, sums, or averages.



Open Data Repositories: CanadaInternational

United StatesNational Center for Charitable Statistics

InternationalWorld Giving Index

Qualitative and quantitative analysis

NVivo is qualitative data analysis software intended to help researchers organize and analyze data, identify trends, and cross examine information in a variety of ways.  Consult the NVIVO service web page for more information about this tool and training workshops.

Sage Research Methods supports researchers throughout a research project, from writing a research question, choosing a method, gathering and analyzing data, to writing up and publishing the findings.

SPSS and Stata

The library offers a statistical consulting service to help students, faculty and other researchers in the Carleton University community with their questions regarding quantitative data. 

Content last reviewed: May 14, 2021