|3. Looking for a "Jewel": The Role of Bibliographies in the Research Process|
How to find bibliographies
Research tips on the use of bibliographies
An annotated list of selected bibliographies in Canadian government and politics.
First step to faster research: find published bibliographies
Research tip: Search for bibliographies at the beginning of the research process. They provide information on what has been published in a given subject area and can save hours of research.Bibliographies are often overlooked in the research process but they are a valuable tool. The compiler, in most cases, a professor or librarian, has gathered together a list of sources on a specific topic which means that a good deal of research has already been completed. As pointed out by Gregory Mahler, author of two of the best bibliographies on Canadian government and politics, the main advantage of a bibliography is that it reduces the more tedious and mechanical part of doing research - the process of pouring over many indexes and databases searching for relevant information (Mahler 1988, ix). Unfortunately, there are too few subject bibliographies published, but look carefully and you may be able to find one of these “jewels” (Jones 1998, 114).
Why bibliographies are still importantIt has been argued that published bibliographies have become passé because they have been replaced by online searches of databases, library catalogues and the Internet. Online searches can gather together a pool of relevant resources without the need for a bibliography. While it is true the power of search engines make this possible, it is a superficial argument.
Published bibliographies can not be replaced in the research process for a number of reasons:
• They are the work of experienced scholars, librarians and researchers who can judge the significance of the material. This indication of quality provides a remedy to the proliferation of published literature.All this being said, it is difficult to convince people of the need to consult a bibliography. Indeed, Thomas Mann, a seasoned reference librarian at the Library of Congress, notes that almost every researcher uses a bibliography at the end of a book or article which happens to come their way but it is comparatively rare that a researcher starts out by looking for bibliographies. A secret of professional researchers is that they start their investigations by looking for published bibliographies (Mann 1998, 131). However, it is worth noting that people are generally much more willing to use an online bibliography with a search engine. Some of the bibliographies listed in this section have taken this approach
Research tip: For example do a subject search on Political parties - Canada - bibliography, or Canada - politics and government - bibliography.Keyword searching
Books with a significant bibliography should have this mentioned in the notes field of the library catalogue record. If your library catalogue indexes this field, a keyword search will find books with a bibliography section even if it did not have the bibliography subject heading. These books would also be well worth looking at.
Research tip: Doing a keyword search on the terms “Canada and federalism and bibliography” will result in a set of items on Canadian federalism containing a bibliography. Limit by date to retrieve a current bibliography.2. Browsing the shelves in a Library
In Library of Congress and Dewey classification schemes subject bibliographies are not shelved with the books on the same subject. Most bibliographies are usually kept in an entirely different section of the library. While this may cause them to be overlooked - it does permit researchers to see all the bibliographies in one place - many of which many have been missed if they were dispersed throughout the collection. A helpful way to think of this section is that it serves “as kind of an index to the rest of the classification scheme, much like the index volume at the end of an encyclopedia” (Mann 1998, 120).
Research tip: The Library of Congress classification for bibliographies on Canadian government and politics is Z1365 to Z1401 (bibliographies on Canada) or Z7161 to Z7166 for political science. Look at the shelves in this section of the library to find bibliographies.3. Use a bibliography of bibliographies.
“Bibliography of Canadian Bibliographies”, 3rd ed. Ernie Ingles ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994). Look in the section: politics, government and public administration and other sections as appropriate (e.g. area bibliographies). Entries are in English or French and are listed in chronological order by publication date. For bibliographies published after 1994, supplement research with searches in a library catalogue (as above).
In addition, Gregory Mahler’s two bibliographies - Contemporary Canadian Politics: an annotated bibliography, 1970-1987 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1988) and Contemporary Canadian Politics: an annotated bibliography, 1988-1994 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995) list general and specialized bibliographies in Canadian government and politics - check the index under bibliographies.
Every time you find a relevant resource, check the bibliography and notes (Whiteley, 6). For example, the works cited at the end of encyclopedia articles are short but are usually selected for authority and quality. Similarly, recommended reading lists and bibliographies in textbooks are helpful introductions to the literature of the discipline. Thus the works cited in all kinds of resources can lead the researcher to more relevant material. Keep an eye out for leads.
Excellent for historical research
Use with your local library
Research tip: “After a while, you should start recognizing some items in a new bibliography as things you have already read or seen listed elsewhere. When that happens, you’re getting a handle on the literature of the subject. If you have been reading for several weeks and aren’t beginning to notice this kind of closure, perhaps you should place some additional limitations on your topic.” (Whiteley 1994, 6).Part 6: Special Topics).
NOTE: Similar to these bibliographies, but listed separately, are government publication catalogues (See Part 4: Finding Information: Government Publication Lists), and listings of certain types of government documents, such as green papers, royal commissions, etc. (See Part 5: Selected Primary Sources and their Finding Aids: What was Written: Government Publications.)
Description: Includes 9 sections by subject: 1. Reference literature and general political readings, 2. Canadian constitution and national institutions, 3. Foreign political and economic relations, 4. Issues in Canadian politics and federal-provincial responsibilities, 5. Political parties and elections, 6. Political behavior and public policy, 7. Canadian ethnic mosaic, 8. Provincial government and politics, 9. Municipal government and politics. Sections futher divided into subsections by subject.biblioPOL: banque bibliographique pour l’enseignement en français de la science politique. By François-Pierre Gingras and Ricky G. Richard, Département de science-politique, Université d’Ottawa).
Subjects: Political science literature in French with emphasis on Canada, Canadian government and politics and Canadian authors.Canadian Official Publications. By Olga B. Bishop. Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1981. 297 p.
Description: Describes the major types of publications issued by the federal government and the information in them. Provides a succinct and clear introduction to historical federal documents.Canadian Political Parties, 1867-1968: A Historical Bibliography. By Grace Heggie. Toronto: Macmillan, 1977. 603 p.
Description: An excellent bibliography for political history. Sections cover biographies, individual political parties, the Constitution, federal-provincial relations and more. Has some annotations.Canadian Politics. By James Bickerton and Alain G. Gagnon. Ottawa: Canadian Studies Directorate, Department of the Secretary of State of Canada, 1992. Canadian Studies Resource Guides. Second series. 28 p.
Description: Includes an introductory overview of the subject, commentary on significant works and suggestions for further reading.Canadian Politics, 1950 to 1975: A Selected Research Bibliography. By John Dreijmanis. Monticello, Ill.: Council of Planning Librarians, 1976. 16 p.
Coverage: Selective listing of 241 scholarly books.Canadian Public Administration: Bibliography / Administration publique canadienne: bibliographie. By W. E. Grasham and Germain Julien. Toronto: Institute of Public Administration of Canada, 1972. 261 p. (Supplements: Vol. 2, 1977, Vol. 3, 1978, Vol. 4, 1979/82.)
Description: Bilingual bibliography, no annotations. Entries in alphabetical order within each subject. Subject sections include municipal administration, public finance, administrative sectors, etc. subdivided into more specific topics.Contemporary Canadian Politics: An Annotated Bibliography, 1970-1987. By Gregory Mahler. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988. 400 p.
Description: Contains almost 4,000 entries. Designed for students and scholars starting research in Canadian government and politics.Contemporary Canadian Politics: An Annotated Bibliography, 1988-1994. By Gregory Mahler. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995. 204 p.
Description: Contains over 1,500 entries. Designed for students and scholars starting research in Canadian government and politics.CPOL (Bibliography of Canadian Politics and Society). By Iza Laponce, Librarian, University of British Columbia.
Description: This bibliography is “designed to provide a starting point for research in Canadian government and politics”. It contains over 33,000 entries
A broader bibliography which could also be useful:
International Bibliography of Political Science. London: Routledge, 1953- .
Description: Annual volumes designed for retrospective research. (Volumes are published a few years after the fact.)
|Last Updated: January 3, 2008