Contemporary Canadian Government & Politics:
A Practical Research Guide

Introduction   Starting   Clarifying   Bibliographies   Finding & Evaluating
Primary Sources   Special Topics   Citing Sources   Ask Your Librarian!   Detailed Table of Contents
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. 

Introduction: the role of bibliographies in the research process 
A bibliography is a list of books, articles, government documents, manuscripts and other publications on a subject, described and arranged in some systematic order. Bibliographies may be book-length, and are also found as lists of publications in individual books, articles and entries in encyclopedias, etc. Bibliographies are so useful in the research process because they are a means to locate material on a certain subject. (Gates 1994, 129-130). 
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 important
It has been argued that published bibliographies have become passé because they have been replaced by online searches of databases, library catalogues and the Internet.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.

• Bibliographies can organize citations in a helpful manner and make it possible to find relevant information quickly. The best bibliographies provide subject grouping to give some indication of the schema of the discipline with a keyword index for quick access. 

• They may include valuable information from sources not covered by databases (eg. chapters in books, government documents, conference proceedings, dissertations, primary sources, etc.). 

• Even seasoned researchers don’t always use search engines effectively and miss relevant resources. 

• Bibliographies save the need to repeat a search in many different databases and indexes. 

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 

Bibliographies are invaluable tools for researchers to quickly access the literature of a subject. 

Works cited 
Gates, Jean Key. Guide to the Use of Libraries and Information Sources. 7th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1994.
Jones, Lois Swan. Art Information and the Internet: How to Find it, How to Use it. (Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 1999).
Mahler, Gregory. Contemporary Canadian Politics: An Annotated Bibliography, 1970-1987. (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988).
Mann, Thomas. The Oxford Guide to Library Research. Revised ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).
Whiteley, Sandy, Ed. The American Library Association Guide to Information Access: A Complete Handbook and Directory. (New York: Random House, 1994).

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How to find bibliographies 

1. Use a library catalogue. 

Subject searching
Most material in a library catalogue has been classified by standard subject headings to permit people to find items on the same subject. The most popular subject headings for college and university libraries are the Library of Congress subject headings. 
Some useful Library of Congress Subject Headings for Canadian government and politics are listed in Part 4: Finding Information: Books 
Book-length bibliographies have the Library of Congress subject heading subdivision “bibliography” listed after the subject heading. Therefore, bibliographies can be found by means of a subject search using a relevant LC subject heading and  “bibliography”. 

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. 
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Further research tips concerning bibliographies:

Bibliographies are everywhere 
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. 

Some bibliographies are comprehensive and collect all material published on a certain subject between specified dates. Other bibliographies are selective and only list what they consider to be the best or most useful sources. It is a good idea to scan the introductory material in bibliographies (this would include preface, introduction, user's guide, etc.) for information about inclusion criteria, dates covered etc. 

Consider the date the bibliography was published. Research with a bibliography usually has to be supplemented by searching a library catalogue or index to find the most current material. In addition, check the endnotes or bibliography of the journal articles and theses you find, as these likely provide access to the most current material the authors could find. 

Intellectual organization
The organization of a bibliography can be very useful for increasing the understanding of the subject. The schema and categories used by longer bibliographies can provide an overview of the structure of the subject and indicate helpful ways a subject can be broken down. 

Excellent for historical research
Bibliographies are particularly important for historical research as they often include older and less common sources not likely to be found using online databases. This also highlights one of the limits of bibliographies: they are not so helpful for research on very current topics. 

Use with your local library
Bibliographies should be used in conjunction with the catalogue at a local library. Someone has put together a list of material, you just have to try to locate the items. Bibliographies will probably contain references to sources not available in your library. Interlibrary loan service should be used at this point (if you have time to wait for the books and articles to arrive). 

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). 
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An annotated list of selected bibliographies in Canadian government and politics:

(All offer broad coverage of Canadian government and politics. More specialized subject bibliographies in Canadian government and politics are listed in 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.)

Bibliographical Guide to Canadian Government and Politics, 1968 to 1980. By Jan Gregor. Montecello, Ill.: Vance Bibliographies, 1986. Public Administration Series: Bibliography P 1918 to P 1926. 9 vols

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. 
Coverage:  Selective, 5,033 entries. 
Includes: Monographs, doctoral and masters dissertations, government and public documents and research papers published in the period 1968 to 1980. Serial monographs are included but periodical articles are excluded. 
Tips: Entries are listed in alphabetical order by author. No title or keyword index but 9 sections and 31 subsections (overall) mean it is not difficult to find what you are looking for. Numerous subsections means that lists of publications are not too long and the researcher is saved from scrolling through a lot of literature.
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. 
Description: Main page includes a table of contents with 8 subsections: Généralités, administration publique, politique canadienne, nouvelle questions politiques (écologie, féminisme), méthodologie, politique comparée, relations internationales, théorie politique. 
Coverage: All literature up to 1998, notes also indicate the intended audience is undergraduate students. 
Includes: Books, journal articles, and some reference works (dictionaries, etc). Does not include: most works in English, classic texts and specialist writings 
Tips:   French language material is sometimes not well covered in commercial databases made for the English language market. In addition, the bibliography goes back in time beyond the reach of most commercial databases. This makes this a useful research resource. However, no annotations are provided. 
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.
Coverage: Selective. 1867-1980.
Includes: Publications of Parliament, government agencies and departments, statistics, Reference books, policy papers, etc.
Tips: Good subject index in the back.
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.
Coverage: Over 8,000 entries published up to 1970. 
Includes: Books, articles, theses. 
Tips: Has subject and author indexes. 
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. 
Coverage: Selective.
Includes: Mainly books and articles. 
Tips: This bibliographic essay is a good place to start research since it provides an overview of the discipline as well as recommended readings. If you have trouble finding this item, a modified and updated version of this is in the widely available James Bickerton and Alain-G Gagnon, Canadian politics. 2nd ed. (Toronto: Broadview Press, 1994). Chapter 1: The study of Canadian politics, pages 9 to 36.  Unfortunately, this chapter is not included in Bickerton and Gagnon, Canadian politics. 3rd ed. (Toronto: Broadview Press, 1999), or in the 4th ed. 2004. However, the lengthy lists of suggested readings at the end of each chapter make these a useful resource as well.  
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. 
Includes: Does not include government publications 
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.
Coverage: Selective, 1930-1971. (Supplements: to 1982.) 
Includes: Books, articles, theses and government publications, except annual reports.
Tips: Use Table of Contents to find topics of interest. Lists other related bibliographies and reference works that cover related 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. 
Coverage:  Selective - all entries are predominantly political in focus (not historical, sociological or economic), 
Includes:  Books, articles and government documents. (Not included are biographies, political history where publication is more history than politics, studies of political sociology and political economics which are also not predominantly political, collections of political cartoons, government documents and reports which are too statistical.) 
Tips:   Strongly recommended - provides an excellent access point into the literature. 14 chapters organized by subject and a comprehensive keyword index at the back make it very easy to find what you are looking for. 
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. 
Coverage:  Selective - all entries are predominantly political in focus (not historical, sociological or economic), 
Includes:  Books, articles and government documents. (Not included are biographies, political history where publication is more history than politics, studies of political sociology and political economics which are also not predominantly political, collections of political cartoons, government documents and reports which are too statistical.) 
Tips:   Strongly recommended - same as above. 
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 
Coverage:  Selective, 1929 to 1996 and 200-2003, but with emphasis on materials published 1960 to 1994 and 2000-2003. No entries after 2003. 
Includes:  Journal articles, proceedings, reports, symposia, festschriften, data files and dissertations. 
Tips:   See main page for search instructions. 

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.)
Coverage: Selective - includes thousands of entries considered the most significant new material published during the year. 
Includes: Books, journal articles, government publications, articles, pamphlets in many languages. (Does not include previously published materials including translations, textbooks, articles from newspapers and news magazines, material which is primarily the presentation of primary data, legislative and judicial texts and material which is mostly of local interest.) 
Tips: Use the place name index to find material about Canadian government and politics. Not particularly well indexed so users have to work through a long list of numbered citations and check each one to see if it is relevant. (There is also a subject and author index). However, the fact that this bibliography is ongoing and covers a broad range of international publications makes it a useful place to look. 
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Introduction   Starting   Clarifying   Bibliographies   Finding & Evaluating
Primary Sources   Special Topics   Citing Sources   Ask Your Librarian!   Detailed Table of Contents

Created and maintained by Anita Cannon, Librarian  
R. P. Bell Library   Mount Allison University   Mount Allison Centre for Canadian Studies
Last Updated: January 3, 2008