Welcome to the Downtown Eastside Research Access Portal (RAP) help page.

The RAP provides access to research in and about the Downtown Eastside. Here is some information about the DTES neighbourhood and its history.

Get started with our tips for using the RAP below. They’re organized by task to make it easier to find what you’re looking for, and we’ve made videos that show how to do some of these tasks.

If you would like support using the RAP, finding relevant research, or accessing items found on the RAP, please contact our team at One of our friendly staff will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thanks for visiting!

Search the collection

Our search feature helps you find relevant items from the DTES RAP collection. Follow these steps to use it effectively.

Read more or watch this video about searching the RAP

1. Find the search bar

You can find the search bar at the top of the DTES RAP homepage.

You can also find our search feature by clicking the Search button, the third option in the website menu.

2. Start a list of keywords

Your keywords, or search terms, will help you find relevant items. They should describe the main ideas, people, places, or organizations you want to research. Strong keywords are full words that are specific to your topic.

For example, “gentrification” could be a more helpful search term than “renos.” Basic search will automatically return results for all forms of your keyword. In this example, your results would include matches for “gentrification” and “gentrified”.

Think of some similar or related words to add to your list of keywords. For “harm reduction” you could add “risk mitigation” and “safe supply.” Some items in the collection will also list suggested keywords. You can use these possible keywords in later searches. They might bring up other relevant results.

3. Type a keyword into the search bar

4. Press the Search button

5. Review your results

Learn how to review your search results.

6. Search again

After you have reviewed your search results and saved any relevant items, try another search using a different keyword. You can make your search more precise by using filters or advanced search. Remember that searching is a process. It can take a few attempts to find what you’re looking for.

Review your search results

Your search results are a list of items in the collection that match your keyword. Learn how to explore and understand your results in this section.

Read more or watch this video about navigating and understanding your search results

1. The number of matches/results
Do you have too many matches? Or not enough? If you have too many matches, you can make your search more precise by using filters and advanced search queries. If you get too few matches, you should try a different keyword from your list or try adding another keyword using an AND search condition.

2. Sorting options
Your results are automatically set to Sort by Relevance. If you’d like, you can sort your results alphabetically by title or by the date they were created instead.

3. Page navigation
Click Next and Previous to view more results.

Each result will include some important details:

1. Title
To view more details or read something you’ve found, click on the title. Learn more in the Get Items tab.

2. Format
This could include text, image, audio, or video.

3. Date published

4. Creator(s)

5. Brief description
Read a short summary of this item. Click the Show More icon to see the full summary.

6. Topics
We’ve tagged each item with one or more topics. You can click on the tag to see other items tagged with this topic.

7. Access restrictions
Free Use means that anyone can access the item. Restricted Use means you may need a subscription, special permission, or support to access the item.

If you are unable to access a restricted use item, please contact us at and we will help. Learn more about the kinds of access we provide: Access Statement (PDF).

Search tip: If you’re looking for all items by a particular creator, try searching for just their last name. Some items only include an initial for the creator’s first name. We are unable to edit this information about all items, so searching for a creator’s full name may miss some matches.

Use filters

Filters can help you narrow down your search results. You can use them to limit your results to certain publishing dates, affiliations, and more. To use filters on your search results, start by clicking the Show Filters button on your search results page.

Read more or watch this video about using search filters

You can apply these filters to your search results:

  • Topics are general subject areas in the collection. Items are tagged with one or more topics.
  • Affiliations are the organizations connected to the creators of an item. Some examples are Department of Geography, UBC; Hives for Humanity; and the Planning Institute of British Columbia.
  • Date filters limit your results to a certain time period. For example, if you only want to find items published in the last year, you would select 2019 to 2020.
  • Genres describe the form or style of an item. Some examples of genres include book, thesis, and artistic performance.
  • Categories describe why an item in the collection was created. Some examples of categories include academic research, creative work and news and information.
  • Types describe the format of items in the collection. Some examples of types include text, audio, still image, and video.

Topics, Genres, Categories, and Types are assigned to items in the collection by the Making Research Accessible initiative using a fixed list of labels. This list is called a “controlled vocabulary.” These consistent terms group related items together.

Select a term listed under a filter type to apply that filter. The term will be in bold and your search results will update automatically.

Search tip: If you want to find all of the items in the collection that match a certain filter, start with a search for *. This is called a wildcard search. Then, on your results page, apply the filters you would like to use.

Use advanced search

Are you searching for items by a certain creator? Are you only interested in finding podcasts? Get more relevant items with our advanced search feature. You can search by particular kinds of information like title, affiliation, or creator.

Read more or watch this video about how to do advanced searches

Find Advanced search

Find the Advanced search feature by selecting the link below the search bar.

Return to Basic search by selecting the link below the advanced search bar.

Create an advanced search query

You can select which information about the items in the collection you would like to search. Each type of information is called a field. See the types of filters and choose from these options by selecting the downwards arrow next to “Any field.”

  • Any field – Search all of the fields of information we have about the items in the collection.
  • Title – Search titles of items in the collection.
  • Creator – Search the names of the creators of all the items in the collection.
  • Affiliation – Search the organization(s) connected to the creator(s) of an item.

Use quotation marks

Use quotation marks around your search terms to find exact matches. This can be helpful if your search term is more than one word.

For example, if you were to enter “shared spaces” in the title field, your search results would only include items where these two words are next to each other in the title.

If you add this term without quotation marks, your search results would include items where shared or spaces are anywhere in the title. Some of these results may not be relevant.

Unlike basic search, keywords used in advanced search will not return matches for different forms of the keyword. For example, “shared spaces” will not return matches for “sharing space”.

Add other search conditions: AND, OR, NOT

You can make your search more precise by adding conditions. For example, you may only want to find items with “shared spaces” in the title field that were created by Kathleen Leahy.

The blue and purple sections of this diagram show search results for “shared spaces” in the title field. Some of these results are items created by Kathleen Leahy (purple), but some are not (blue).

On the second line of your search query, you can make your search more specific. Our advanced search feature uses AND, NOT, and OR to help refine your search.

Using AND narrows your search results. Items must match all of your search terms to show up in your results.

For example, if you search for “shared spaces” in the title field AND “Kathleen Leahy” in the creator field, you will see results only in the purple section of this diagram. These are items containing the phrase “shared spaces” that Kathleen Leahy created.

Using OR broadens your search results. Items can match all, some, or one of your search conditions.

For example, a search for “shared spaces” in the title field OR Kathleen Leahy in the creator field would match items in all three sections of this diagram. You would see results with only “shared spaces,” only Kathleen Leahy as a creator, OR both together.

Using NOT excludes items from your search results. Only results that match your first condition and do not match your second condition will be included.

For example, the blue section of this diagram shows search results for items with “shared spaces” in the title field NOT Kathleen Leahy in the creator field. These are items that contain the words “shared spaces,” but that are NOT created by Kathleen Leahy.

You can add and remove search conditions by pressing the plus and minus buttons to the right of the search bar.

Press the Search button to run your search. Learn how to review your results. If there are too few results, you will need to broaden your search query and search again. If there are too many, irrelevant results, you will need to narrow your search or apply filters.

You can use filters including Topics, Date, Genres, Categories, and Types to refine your search results further. Learn how to use filters.

Browse by topic

The RAP Topics section lets you browse by subject common in research or publications in the Downtown Eastside. You can find topics by clicking the Topics button, the second option in the website menu. This video shows where to find topics in the RAP and how to use them.

Get an item

When you find an item you want to access, click on the title. This will take you to a page with more details about that item, including how to get it.

Read more or watch this video about how to get an item

You will find one or more links to the item on this page. Select the link and a new window will open, taking you to a website where you can get the item.

If you select the link to UBC’s Open Collections in the example above, you will find the page below, where you can read or download the article.

Learn about Free Use and Restricted Use

Items in the DTES RAP are either Free Use or Restricted Use.

Read more

Free Use means that anyone can get the item. It may be hosted in an open access repository, such as UBC Open Collections, or it may be publicly available through another website.

Restricted Use means that you may not be able to get this item right away. It could have some copyright restrictions or we may not have a link to a digital version. You may need a subscription or library card from a university to access it.

If you find a Restricted Use item you would like to access, please contact us using the “Get help by email” button on the article page. You can also email us with the article details at We will do our best to find a version of this item for you to use.

We are working with creators to make as many items Free Use as possible. As of June 2020, less than 20 per cent of our collection is Restricted Use.

If you would like to only see items that are Free Use, you can check the box marked “Search for free use content only.”

Learn more about the kinds of access we provide: Access Statement (PDF).

Access PDF files

Many items in the DTES RAP are in Portable Document Format, or PDF.

Read more

PDF files are often used to share documents because the formatting will not change when opened on different devices. However, you need software that can open PDF files installed on your device.

Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari have a built-in PDF viewer.

If your browser does not open PDF files, you can install Adobe Acrobat Reader for free from the Adobe website.

Suggest or contribute an item

We value all community contributions to the DTES RAP. Learn how to help us grow our collection.

Read more

We invite you to suggest items or share your own work to be included in the RAP. This includes academic papers, annual reports, podcasts, and art projects that are created in or related to the DTES.

If you’ve found or created an item that would fit in our collection, please email us at to let us know, and send a citation, a link to the item, or a copy that you have permission to share (such as an author’s manuscript). We’ll be in touch if we need more information!

If you’d like to see more of a certain topic or format in our collection, please send us an email at

Read more about our criteria in our Curatorial Statement (PDF).

Contact a researcher

Our Directory includes some academic researchers and students whose studies are connected to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES).

Read more or watch this video about the Directory and Projects pages

Everyone in the Directory has volunteered to share their contact details and information about their work. We hope this page will highlight researchers with experience working in the DTES, make it easier for researchers and community members to connect with each other, and facilitate community-university collaborations.

If you have questions about contacting people listed in the Directory or if you are an academic researcher and would like to join the Directory, please email us at

Learn about research projects

Our Projects page includes some research projects that have happened or are happening in the DTES. All of the projects listed on this page have been reviewed and approved by an institutional research ethics board.

Read more or watch thisvideo about the Directory and Projects pages

All of the researchers who have shared their contact information in the Directory would be happy to hear from you.

If you have questions about contacting people listed in the project descriptions or if you are a researcher and would like to add a project to this page, please email us at

Learn about community-university collaboration

Making research findings and related materials more accessible online is just one of the ways university and community members can learn from one another. On our Resources page, you will find checklists, guides, and more items that we have identified for anyone interested in community-university collaboration.

Give feedback

We welcome and value all feedback. Please email the team at


Two important phrases that are used often throughout the DTES RAP are community-based research and knowledge exchange.

Community-Based Research Canada defines community-based research as being:

  • “Community-driven – the research is practically relevant to those most affected by the issue under study and leads to their self-determination.
  • Participatory – community members and researchers equitably share control of the research agenda through active and reciprocal involvement in the research design, implementation and dissemination.
  • Action-oriented – the process and results are useful to community members in making positive social change and to promote social equity.”

The UBC Knowledge Exchange Unit defines knowledge exchange as:

“…research and related activities with social, political, environmental, economic, or cultural impacts. These impacts may occur through public dialogues, policymaking, professional practice or cultural spheres. Knowledge exchange includes community-based research, partnership development, public scholarship and communication practices.”

DTES RAP Definitions

Learn about frequently used words and phrases in the DTES RAP. Many of these terms are also used in other collections and databases.
Access describes the availability of an item in the collection. The Making Research Accessible initiative (MRAi) strives to make all items in the collection as freely accessible as possible. At the same time, we must be clear about which items have limited access. The four terms below describe different types of access you may find when using the DTES RAP:
  • Free Use—Open Access Resource
    An item that is available in an open access digital repository, archive, or open access academic journal. These items are available to anyone with an Internet connection. Open access items usually have copyright statements (or “licenses”) that describe the legal conditions for using the item. Be sure to check licenses so you know what is allowed.
  • Free Use—Public Resource
    An item that is freely available on the Internet, but not in an open access repository or journal. These items may not have any listed copyright statements (or “licenses”). Yet they are still likely to have some form of copyright. Make sure the owner has agreed to allow you to copy or reuse this item before you do.
  • Restricted Use—Mediated Access Physical Resource
    An item available from UBC Library in a physical format (e.g. as a book). We can help you access these items by request.
  • Restricted Use—Mediated Access Resource
    A digital item not available for free public access. The most common example in our collection is an article in an academic journal that users pay to access. You may be able to access this item with a library account or another institutional log-in. We may also be able to find an open access version of this item for you.

Affiliations are the organizations the creators of an item are connected to.

Categories describe the context in which an item was created. Some examples of categories include academic research, creative work, and news and information.

Collection describes all of the items, as a group, that can be accessed via the DTES RAP. You can learn more about our collection criteria and priorities in our Curatorial Statement (PDF).

Controlled vocabulary describes the consistent set of terms used to group together similar items in the collection. The Making Research Accessible initiative assigns Topics, Genres, Categories, and Types using a controlled vocabulary.

Creator refers to the person or organization responsible for making an item in the collection.

Filters are used to help narrow your search results. For example, you can use filters to find items from a particular Genre or time period.

Genres describe the form, style, or context of an item. Some examples of genres include book chapters, theses (plural of thesis), and infographics.

Item describes any object in the collection. Some examples include scholarly articles, newsletters, and podcasts.

License describes the rules that set the terms for using an item. Some items may have copyright restrictions where others may have a Creative Commons license.

Metadata is information about another piece of information. Metadata describes information about items in the collection. Some examples include titles, topics, and creators.

Portal describes a gateway or guide to content from around the internet, often focused on a particular topic or theme.

Search results are a list of items in the collection that match your search conditions.

Topics are general subject areas assigned to items in the collection by the MRAi.

Type describes the file type of items in the collection. Some examples of types include text, audio, image, and video.