Public Policy & Administration

Literature Review

There are many excellent online guides to doing a lilterature review.  Samples include:

Introducing Summon 

The library's search tool, Summon, allows you to search for books, journal articles, media, and more with a single search. You can access Summon from the library's homepage.  Also try the Advanced Search.

Because there will be many results, it is important to narrow your search using the filters offered along the left hand side.  

However, Summon doesn't search everything that the library owns so you will still need to search other resources to find everything that you need. Summon also doesn't let you do sophisticated searches that you may be used to doing in specific databases or the library catalogue.  

Use Summon when starting research on a topic or when you are not sure which databases to use.  

Encyclopedias, Dictionaries & Handbooks

Consult other library subject guides for additional sources.

Key Databases for Journal Articles: 

Additional Databases: 

Good to know:

  1. Within a database, limit your search to scholarly articles when it is appropriate to disregard other resources.
  2. 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.
  3. Use available options to search more than one database at a time.
  4. 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.
  5. Use the Interlibrary Loans RACER form to request items not held at Carleton’s library.  
  6. For additional relevant databases, look at the Subject Guides that best relate to your topic, such as  Global & International Studies,  Philanthropy & Nonprofit LeadershipGovernment InformationCanadian Studies, Business, Sociology etc.​

News Sources

For current news 

  • PressReader - easy to use global coverage pdf format.  The backfile varies by title.
  • Continuum Economics (formerly Roubini Global Economicsexcellent news monitorinig service.  Create an account for global economic news and analysis.

Tips for searching newspaper databases.

Other sources

For historical Canadian & other newspapers:


Use citation databases to find if a particular author and/or paper has been cited by other authors.


Web of Science    

  • Select Cited Reference Search from top tool bar.
    • You have the article
      • Burstein, P.  2003   "The impact of public opinion on public policy: A review and an agenda."  Political Research Quarterly  Volume: 56   Issue: 1   Pages: 29-40
    • Enter the  author in cited author box
      • Burstein P*  (use surname, first initial and truncation symbol)          
    • Retrieve abbreviation of journal name from list provided, and enter year of publication.  POLIT RES QUART 2003
      • From the list, select the ariticle and click on Finish Search at the top of the list.
      • Results show the article has been cited 325 times - the most recent in Aug 2018.
  • Note the option Create Alert to be notified of any future citings of this article.


  • Choose Author Seach from top tool bar.
    • Enter author's name and affiliation if known
      • Pal L*
      • Enter Affiliation if known.
    • Select displayed result.  All published articles by the author will be listed.  Click on article for citing references.
  • Remember to see if an citing article has itself been cited.

Journal Ranking   

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

  • Public Administration 
  • Economics
  • Political Science

Grey literature is an important source of information for research in public policy.

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


Policy Reports and Working Papers

Think Tanks

Search the catalogue for reference works and texts for background information on your topic, to find good keywords to use when searching databases or useful handbooks and introductory resources:

By keyword:

 Or use subject heading such as

Suggested reference resources

Additional sources:

Software Availability/Licensing

NVivo is a software package that helps with qualitative data analysis. Keep track of all data associated with your project, code your data, create models to help organize your research, run queries on your coded data, create charts and reports for sharing with others.

Follow the instructions on the library's NVivo page to download the software, get information about training, and more help options.  We offer NVivo workshops to the Carleton University community either for individuals, small groups, or classes. Contact to arrange a workshop.

Content last updated: October 29, 2019