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Political Studies:

Briefing Note Assignment to the Minister of Foreign Affairs


The first task for this assignment is to identify and focus on the issue or event about which you will inform the Minister by writing a briefing note.  You will choose one area from the three topic areas given:  Ballistic Missile Defense (with the U.S.), status of NAFTA negotiations, or Canada's Women, Peace and Security agenda. (From Prof. Charron's assignment.)

The best database to browse potential issues/events on a given topic is Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database (CBCA).  You can also search the Hills Times below separately to find what are the issues addressed and covered on your topic.

Searching CBCA 101:

1) Type in your search strategy: [ keyword 1] and [keyword 2]  (You can replace key phrase with keyword by placing it in quotation marks, e.g., "Ballistic Missile Defense" and debate. In this instance, "Ballistic Missile Defense" is [keyword 1] and "debate" is [keyword 2]. When you are ready with your search strategy, Enter. The below shows search results displayed, as an example.Showing the screen display when you enter "Ballistic Missile Defence" and debate as your search strategy.

  • Note that you retrieved 418 results in this example.
  • Before you start browsing, let's narrow down to the most recent years.

2) Scroll down the page. You will see, on the left-hand side, "Publication date" covering your search results.

Publication date covering all the 418 results are shown in the left-hand side of the page.  Now you can move an arrow to view the most recent years.

  • ​It shows that the initial search results retrieved 418 items cover from 1985 to present. (The first red arrow.)
  • The position was moved to the beginning of the last graph block.  (The second red arrow).
  • Now we are ready to click Update to narrow down the date coverage.
  • Now you will see the publication date coverage is 2010 - 2017.  Your results are down to 74. (At the time of this instruction, November 8, 2017).
  • You want to move the arrow further to the beginning of 2016 so that you can focus the coverage from 2016 to present.  Now you have 35 results.

3) Look up "Source type" on the left side.  (Refer to the first graphic in this section.)  Here your search results are organized by “Source type."

  • If you don't have your focus well defined, select Newspapers or Wire Feeds (news reports supplied by a news agency to news organizations) to browse what are being reported. 
  • Skim through the materials, then identify and target your focus.
  • Look now for other sources such as scholarly journals to see if any research papers are written on the topic and assess whether any scholarly sources inform you about your targeted issue.  You might want to search scholarly sources older than 2016 to identify historical or on-going trends/issues surrounding the topic for your background information.


Other Publications

Citing Your Sources

While you are using Canadian Business & Current Affairs (CBCA), the database (ProQuest platform) helps you to create a citation for each source.

When you open up each source, you will find "Cite" link on the right-hand side of the page.  See below.

"Cite" hyperlink that is located on the right-hand side of each record.


Click "Cite."  In a new window, you can choose which citation style you want to display.  The example below is in APA:

When you click the Cite hyperlink, a window opens up and displays the citation of the source in a chosen style.

Make sure that you know how to create a bibliography in your chosen style as well as how to use in-text citations to complete your assignment.  For more information, refer to the Writing & Citing tab of the Subject Guide.  It's also important to take notes as you gather information.  You can refer to some tips for taking notes under the Writing & Citing tab.


Peer-Reviewed Sources Listed in the Course Syllabus

Unfortunately, no easy way to search all the peer-reviewed sources listed at once and then to browse the results.  

For the following journals, search by typing your keyword (or phrase, usually use quotation marks (e.g., "ballistic missile defense") or a combination of keywords in searching box on their respective web site:


  • For Canadian Military Journal, do Google site search adding the journal's url, plus your keyword(s) or phrase(s).  The following example shows that one added keyword: "asia."

The site search for the Canadian Military Journal using an example of search a keyword, asia.

For the following journals listed, search ProQuest platform.  You can search each journal title by typing in the search box as listed below.  Once you located the journal page, search your keyword(s) or key phrase or the combination :

  • Canadian Foreign Policy
  • Canadian Journal of Development Studies
  • Canadian Journal of Political Science
  • Canadian Public Policy
  • Policy Options

Below is the Canadian Foreign Policy page on ProQuest platform.  As you can see, you can search within the journal's issues by typing in your keyword(s), etc, at the bottom of the page.

The Canadian Foreign Policy page on ProQuest platform

Canada Among Nations

Canada Among Nations is a book series published by the Centre for International Governance Innovation.  The best way to search this publication series is Google Books.  You can add appropriate keyword(s)/key phrase(s) to browse and skim through the contents of a selected book.  It also helps to review the Table of Contents to understand the overall coverage of the book.  By searching keywords, you will be able to identify useful section(s) or pages for your research.

Links to Government and Think Tank Websites