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Research Guides

GGRB03: Writing Geography

This guide will help students in GGRB03 with finding scholarly and popular sources for your essay assignment on writing a personal story about a place you lived or visited.

The Research Process

Remember the research process is not linear. You will inevitable move back and forth between focusing your topic, research, and writing before completing your assignment.   

Step 1: Choose a Topic

Pick a topic that interests you or is meaningful to you:

It can be:

  • Geographical place - city, neighbourhood, global, etc. - you decide on the scale
  • Abstract/Conceptual - issue, theory, geography concepts

Look to your course readings for ideas and jumping off points, or maybe it's something you read about on social media, what are ways that we investigate issues in human geography, think about how we write about places.

Google Web Search

Step 2: Find the who, what, where, when and the why/how to develop your topic

1. Write down your topic idea on the Developing your Topic worksheet.

2. Think about the following questions to help you brainstorm:

  • Who does this issue impact? Men/Women? Youth? Certain race?
  • What about the issue is interesting, and perhaps controversial?
  • Where does this issue take place? Urban/Rural? Country or City?  
  • When does this issue happen? Present/Past, when did it develop over time?
  • Why is this issue important or in the news? Why care about this issue?
  • How did this issue arise? 

You may use you background research and anything you may have found to scope out your researching and writing idea.

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Step 3: Identify Search Strategy with Keywords

A. Describe your Topic
How has legislation changed access to the market for farmers in Punjab, India?
B: Identify keywords for your topic.
Main Concept 1 Concept 2          Concept 3       
India  farmers  legislation 
C. Find synonyms 
Main Concept 1 Concept 2          Concept 3       
Punjab agriculture farm bills
Northern India crops  


D. Build a search 

Main Concept 1

(India OR Punjab)

Concept 2

(farm* OR agricultur* OR crop*)        

Concept 3

legislation OR "farm bills"   

Other keywords:

  • working conditions 
  • private property
  • land ownership
  • neoliberalism
  • political ecology
  • geography
  • women
  • migrants
  • capital or capitalism

Example article found in IBSS database:

Shrimali, R. (2016). Accumulation by dispossession or accumulation without dispossession: The case of contract farming in India. Human

Geography, 9(3).