Islam and the West

Course #: CT400X-BR

Familiarize yourself with the topic

  • Do some preliminary reading before deciding on your topic or narrowing it down
  • Read the introductions to books on you topic. Get ideas from your course readings
  • Acquire background information from one of Laurier’s online reference books. The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World and The Oxford Dictionary of Islam have useful information on your topics. Before clicking on the titles of either work, sign in by clicking on the off-campus login link (at the top of the page)

Choose keywords

  • Formulate a research question in order to focus your ideas about the topic. Please see our video tutorial on developing an effective research question
  • Write down the different concepts used in this question (“women's rights” AND "islam")
  • For each concept, think of similar terms that you might also use (“islam” OR “muslim”)
  • TIP: Find additional clues for terms in the titles and abstracts of books and articles
  • Locating the right combination of keywords takes time. You will need to go back and forth, revising the terms as you examine your search results
  • View our video tutorial on using keywords effectively

Find books

  • Search Laurier’s Primo library catalogue for books on your topic. The default search is both books and articles so choose the “books” tab if you want to eliminate articles
  • You can start with broad keywords (e.g. “women's rights” AND "islam") and then narrow down your results by clicking on one of the “refine your results” links on the left-hand side of the screen
  • For example, you could click on the subtopic “environmental policy”
  • You can also limit your results to the Brantford campus and/or books published within a specific time frame (for example, the last 2 years)
  • TIP: Are you unsure whether to type “muslim” or “muslims”? Use the * symbol as a shortcut. If you type muslim* you will retrieve the various suffixes of the word
  • TIP: For additional books on a topic, click on the title of a book that looks pertinent, and then click on the subject link(s) for that book (under “details”)
  • TIP: Are the books on your topic checked out? You can always use an e-book
  • TIP: You can also order a book or a photocopy of an article from another library. You can learn more in our video tutorial on requesting materials from other libraries. It will be sent to the Brantford Public Library at no cost and you will be notified by email when it arrives

Find eBooks

  • Laurier's eBooks are just as scholarly as our print books
  • They are available 24/7 from anywhere with an Internet connection
  • Some of our ebooks can be downloaded and read on mobile devices (but not on the Kindle). If a book is downloadable, it will have a download link
  • View this video tutorial on finding eBooks

Find articles

Databases with articles related to essay topics

Find theses

Too many search results?

  • If you get too many search results, use narrower search terms (e.g. “canada” instead of “north america”)
  • Try adding more concepts to your search (“women's rights” AND “islam” AND “canada”). Adding more terms that are linked by “AND” will decrease the number of search results

Too few search results?

  • Think in terms of broader categories (“western society" rather than "europe")
  • Add alternate terms for each concept (“muslim” OR “islam”). Adding more terms that are linked by “OR” will increase the number of search results
  • TIP: Look at the bibliographies of the most pertinent books and articles on your topic. One author can lead you to others in the field

Get help with writing the paper

Create the bibliography

Need help?

  • Don’t hesitate to contact me (Pauline Dewan); I am here to help you. For additional information, see my contact page
  • Email me at
  • Call me at 519 756-8228 ext. 5529
  • Drop in for help or make an appointment. My office is in the Digital Library and Learning Commons, on the lower level of Grand River Hall, room 108B
  • Instant message a Laurier librarian for help by clicking on “Ask Us” (from the homepage of the Laurier Library)

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