Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Master of Community Planning

A guide supporting VIU MCP students.

Advice from Orientation Day

1. Getting Organized

  • Know your logistics before starting
  • Plan
  • Gather necessary materials
  • Outline/Concept Map
  • Get to know your librarian, make an appointment
  • Schedule your time wisely
  • Figure out a reference management solution before you start (i.e. RefWorks, Flow, Mendeley)
  • Colour coordinate materials

2. Choosing a Topic

  • Know your question
  • Not too narrow/broad
  • Start broad and narrow your topic if you don't already have a narrow focus.  If you have a narrow focus to start, expand as necessary.
  • Evolving topic
  • Look for "future research questions" section of other research (not always a specific section, but usually near the end of articles).
  • Try different terminology for searches
  • Pick something you like!
  • Pick a topic that you can work with within your time constraints (i.e. don't pick a topic that requires the library to bring in books from other places when the assignment is due in 2 days).

3. Search Strategies/Finding Material

  • Once you find one good source, follow up on the references cited (i.e. snowball)
  • Try four different searches: LibrarySearch (books), LibrarySearch (articles), Google Scholar, Google
  • If you're going to use Google Scholar, do so via the link on the library's main page.  This allows you to avoid paywalls when accessing content the library owns.
  • Interviews with stakeholders and staff
  • Start with initial readings and look at references
  • Find research and primary sources
  • Network
  • Look at centres of knowledge in community
  • Learn to look at interdisciplinary source
  • NEVER, EVER pay for access to material.  The library can bring it in for free for you via interlibrary loan

4. Evaluating Material

  • Look for recent, peer-reviewed material.
  • Think about assumptions in the article

5. Citing

  • OWL Purdue is a great resource
  • Look for the Library's Citation Guide
  • There's a grey area in including sources for general ideas.  If in doubt, ask your professor, a librarian, or the Writing Centre.

6. Writing

  • Make sure to have a thesis statement.
  • Create an outline, ask your professor to look over.
  • Have others review/edit your work.
  • Try not to repeat the same word over and over.  Use a thesaurus.
  • Keep a regular schedule of deadlines (i.e. I'll write on Tuesday afternoons)

As brainstormed by the first MCP cohort, September 2015.

VIU Footer