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Economics

A guide to major reference works, scholarly article databases and data sources in Economics.

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About the Underground Economy Guide

  • This research guide groups various resources that can help with finding information on obscure topics and underground topics in economics. 

What is the Underground Economy

The Underground Economy, also know as the Informal Economy or Shadow Economy, according to Investopedia can be defined as the following :  

  • The underground economy refers to illegal economic activity. Transactions in the underground economy are illegal either because the good or service being traded is itself illegal or because an otherwise licit transaction does not comply with government reporting requirements. The first category includes drugs and prostitution in most jurisdictions. The second includes untaxed labor and sales, as well as smuggling goods to avoid duties. The underground economy is also referred to as the shadow economy, black market (not gray market) and informal economy. Source: Investopedia

Image Source
Wikimedia Commons

Not All Information is Available

When doing research on topics that are underground or obscure, you should keep in mind the following : 

  • Your topics may not be well-documented and thus, little may have been published on your topics 
  • You will have to QUESTION every piece of information that you find
  • You will have to look at many different types of sources, such as, but not limited to :
    • News : Newspapers, News networks (Radio-Canada, France 24, etc.), News feeds, etc. 
    • Social media : Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc. 
    • Blogs : Wordpress, Blogger, Tumblr, etc. 
    • Video services : YouTube, Google Video, Vimeo, dailymotion, etc. 
  • Language skills : if you read in multiple languages, search in those languages

Supplementary tip : Ask yourself the following question when looking for a particular information : 

  • If I were in their position, would I want / allow for such an information to be published?

Image Source
Wikimedia Commons

Pro Searching Tips : AND / OR

Example search string :

  • ("la familia michoacana" OR "la familia michoacana" OR "la famille michoacana") AND (dinero OR argent OR money) AND (religion OR catholique OR catholic OR católico OR catolicismo OR Catholicism OR catholicisme) site:facebook.com

Search operators of the search string :

  • Parentheses 
    • Helps visualize the order of the search (kind of like order of operations in algebra)
  • Quotation marks
    • Force the search engine to search for our keywords / ideas in that exact order
  • OR
    • Link synonyms or like concepts together 
  • AND
    • Links key / principal ideas together
  • site:facebook.com
    • ​See the Advanced Google Searching section of this guide below. 

Image Source
Library of Prince George Community College

Advanced Google Searching

  • Search within a specific website : 
    • [Insert keyword here] site:twitter.com 
    • [Insert keyword here] site:facebook.com 
    • [Insert keyword here] site:gouv.qc.ca / site:gov
    • [Insert keyword here] site:gouv.fr
  • Search for a specific file type : 
    • [Insert keyword here] filetype:pdf 
    • [Insert keyword here] filetype:ppt 
    • [Insert keyword here] filetype:doc
  • Other advanced Google search techniques : 

Databases for Law Sources

Databases for News and Newspaper Sources

Sources for Background Information on the Underground Economy

Critique and question what you are reading!

The CRAAP test can be a useful tool to try and evaluate if an article or document is legitimate or not. 

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
    • examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government), .org (nonprofit organization), .net (network), .qc.ca (Québec government) .gouv.qc.ca (Québec government) or .gc.ca (Canadian government)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Original Source: Meriam Library, California State University-Chico

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