This guide is designed for students in Public Affairs & Policy Management, though anyone doing research on public policy may find help here. If you need further assistance, please use the links in the Contact box. I am available by email as well as for virtual meetings.
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? Try Choosing an essay topic
- Do some background reading on your topic using Wikipedia
- Using Wikipedia wisely (video)
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:
- International dictionary of public management and governance
- International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences
- Language of Canadian politics
- Oxford Reference Online
- Routledge Encyclopedia of International Relations and Global Politics
- The Canadian Encyclopedia
Video: Search strategies and Omni
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 discover may mean you need to restart your search process
- Some suggested subject headings or keyword search terms:
- public policy
- health policy
- environmental policy
Once you've decided which terms are the most useful for your search, combine them in a boolean search.
For example: "environmental policy" AND (evaluation OR assessment) AND canad*
- putting quotes around a multi-word phrase will search specifically for those words, in that sequence, side by side
- the brackets keep together a variation in phrasing
- the * will look for alternate endings/spellings
- 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)
Use database filters to narrow down and focus the results you find. For example:
- books, or Journals, or Scholarly and/or Peer Review
- Publication Date (past 5 years?)
- Canada's prime ministers, governors general and Fathers of Confederation
- Canadian parliamentary guide
- Canadian who's who
- Dictionary of Canadian biography
- CIA World Factbook
- World Competitiveness Online
- World Development Indicators
- Human Development Report
- Brill E-Books Includes publications covering Middle East and Islamic Studies, Social Sciences, Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, and International Law.
- Canadian Publishers Collection Includes major Canadian University Presses, among them the University of Toronto Press, the UBC Press, Les Presses de l'Université du Québec and McGill-Queen's University Press.
- Columbia International Affairs Online
- eBook Collection (EBSCOhost)
- Ebook Central Fulltext of books from academic publishers, as well as books and reports from Canadian research institutes, government agencies and university centres.
- Oxford Scholarship Online
- Scholars Portal Books Fulltext available for books from the following publishers: Springer, Oxford University Press, American Psychological Association, Cambridge University Press, Canadian presses and government and non-governmental organizations
- UC Press E-Books Collection, 1982-2004 Collection from University of California Press on a wide range of topics.
See a full list of ebook collections.
Other Library Collections:
- University of Ottawa
Catalogue of books and other materials in libraries worldwide. Offers Over 62,000,000 million bibliographic records.
- Library and Archives Canada
- Centre for Research Libraries (CRL)
- Library of Congress
- British Library
WATMEDIA is an extensive, searchable database of approximately 50,000 film and video titles which are held by other Ontario universities and can be borrowed.
- Asia-Studies Full-Text Online
- Business Source Complete
- Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database
- Columbia International Affairs Online
- Communication and Mass Media Complete
- CPI-Q (Canadian Periodical Index)
- Emerald Management eJournals
- Human Resources Abstracts
- Political Science Database
- Sociological Abstracts
- Web of Science (part of this is Social Sciences Citation Index)
- Women in Politics
- World Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology Abstracts
Good to know:
- Within a database, limit your search to scholarly (peer-reviewed) 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.
- Look for the option to set up an RSS feed or to Create an Alert. You are then notified when a new entry is added to the database that meets your search criteria.
- Use the Interlibrary Loans RACER form to request items not held at Carleton’s library.
- Brookings Institute
- Canadian Public Documents Collection
- Conference Board of Canada e-Library In addition to the e-Library, look to particular Centres for research on specific topics. Go to Conference Board of Canada and scroll down to the bottom of the page. Select Sitemap. Under Special Projects you will see Centre for the North, Centre for Food in Canada, How Canada Performs, etc.
- National Bureau of Economics Research (NBER) Working Papers
- Policy File Index
- Social Research and Demonstration Corporation A non-profit research organization, created specifically to develop, field test, and rigorously evaluate new programs.
Web of Science
Select Cited Reference Search from top tool bar.
You have the article
Randell Hansen and Desmond King, 2001. "Eugenic Ideas, Political Interests, and Policy Variance... " World Politics 53.2:237-263.
Enter author in cited author box
Hansen R* (use surname, first initial and truncation symbol)
Retrieve abbreviation of journal name from list provided, and enter year of publication. World Polit
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
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 the Library search, 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.
- Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database Provides full text to Canadian business journals and magazines.
- Canadian Newsstream Access to over 280 Canadian news sources
- Eureka Fulltext Canadian French and English newspapers from Alberta, the Atlantic provinces, Québec and aboriginal communities.
- Factiva (Globe and Mail and the Wall Street Journal live here)
- Continuum Economics excellent international news montioring service
The following titles are a small sample of news sources available online through the Library catalogue:
- The Economist
- Financial Times (London) (most recent month not available)
- The Globe and Mail
- National Post Online (includes the Financial Post)
- Wall Street Journal
Find theses and dissertations in our databases, starting with:
- Theses Canada / Thèses Canada
- Dissertations and Theses Global Covers all the same theses from the former Dissertations & Theses Full Text (full-text of North American theses) and Dissertations & Theses: UK and Ireland (selected full-text, others may be found in the EThOS database listed below) plus it now adds more international coverage of some European and Chinese theses.
- Dissertations and Theses@Carleton (a subset of the full Dissertations and Theses database)
- EThOS The UK’s national thesis service, provides a record of all doctoral dissertations with a growing number of them in full-text
- Foreign Doctoral Dissertations
The library has many data sources available. Get help at the Research Help Desk (main level), or consult the library guide for Data.
Relevant databases include:
- The Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC)
- poliTwitter.ca -the Canadian political twitter & social media site
- iPolitics - is independent, non-partisan and committed to providing timely, relevant, insightful content related to political developments in Ottawa and the provinces. Database is free for students.