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Geography 221: Economic Geography

If you need help, please contact Sarah (Tong) Zhang, GIS&Map Librarian | Librarian for Geography | Librarian, Data Services Team at 778-782-9704 or or Ask a librarian.

Before you start searching

Tip #1: Think about what you're looking for.

  • Review the assignment guidelines.
  • Decide what questions you want to answer.
  • Write those questions down, circle the key concepts in each.
  • Think of synonyms, broader and narrower terms, alternate spellings, and related words for each of your concepts.
  • Use Subject Headings the Library Catalogue and Descriptors in databases for more precise searches.

Tip #2: Use a variety of sources and formats.

  • No single source will answer all of your questions.
  • Not everything is online. You may find some good leads, but you will need to develop your research skills "beyond Google". 
  • Use a variety of information sources: books, government information, statistics, reports from the corporate world, peer-reviewed journal articles, encyclopedias, personal accounts, etc.

Finding information

Background information


To find books at SFU Library, use the Library Catalogue. Start with a keyword search, trying various combinations of the terms you've already brainstormed for your main concepts. Use AND between concept terms.

When you find a book (or film or report or ebook) that seems appropriate, click on the title for the full record for the item. Towards the bottom of the record, you'll see Subject Headings. If you click on a subject heading that seems relevant, you will find additional books on the same topic.

For further information, see the SFU Library Catalogue Search Guide.

Databases for searching for journal articles

Recommended databases for this course:

What is a scholarly journal? Learn how to distinguish academic and popular sources.

For further information see the How to find journal articles guide.

Newspaper articles

Sources for searching for grey literature

Grey literature is information produced outside of traditional publishing—reports, working papers, government documents, urban plans, etc. This information is often produced by organizations "on the ground" (such as government agencies and NGOs) where dissemination of information and reporting on activities is the goal before publishing an academic article or book.  Grey literature takes the form of documents, reports, working papers, etc. produced by government bodies, IGOs, NGOs, research groups, institutions, associations, etc. 

Use our Search tips for Google and Google Scholar for to search Google, Google Scholar, and Google Custom Searches for grey literature.

Tips for searching for grey literature

  • Think about organizations that might be producing information on the topic you're interested in. Scan reference lists and notice documents produced by government bodies or other organizations. Find and search their websites. 
  • These areas of the websites of government bodies and other organizations often contain reports and other critical grey literature: Reports, Research, Documents, Library, Data.
  • Pay attention to author affiliations: sometimes the author of a book or journal article is affiliated with an organization and going to the website for that organization will connect you with important grey literature.

Selected Google Custom Searches for grey literature

Selected associations, research groups, non-governmental organizations (NGO's) and lobby groups

Search these websites for grey literature:

Government information

  • Look at the Canadian government web pages for the resource of your choice.
  • See also the Provincial government web page for your resource.
  • If you are doing a resource in another country, see the government web pages for that country.
  • Check out the international agencies such as the European Union, United Nations, International Monetary Fund, or World Bank.

Use the links to the government bodies provided above or see Finding Government Resources & Information for links to city, regional, provincial, and federal governments in Canada, to foreign governments and to international organizations.

Related SFU Library Guides

Writing & citing


The Student Learning Commons (SLC) provides writing and learning support to SFU students of ALL levels, whether you are an A student or a student who is struggling. You can book a consultation and/or attend a workshop

Writing handouts from the SLC: These handouts are excellent! They will guide you through the mechanics of academic writing and help with things like grammar, citing, transition words, and style. See especially the three handouts on integrating sources. Immensely helpful.

How-to books on academic writing: These are extremely useful books that will demystify the academic writing process. 

  • Making Sense: A Student's Guide to Research and Writing: Geography & Environmental Sciences [print]  *see especially Chapter 5: "Writing an Essay".
  • They say/I say: the Moves that Matter in Academic Writing [print]

Avoiding plagiarism: Questions about what constitutes plagiarism? Please read the SFU Library's What is plagiarism? page and then take our Plagiarism tutorial.


Writing & style guides. Follow a citation style guide. 

Use Referencing and citation management software to keep track of your resources and citations.​