Gender & Women's Studies

Help finding resources for your Gender & Women's Studies research.

Research Assignment

You have a research assignment for this course, where you need to find 8 scholarly books or articles.  This guide will help direct you.

Research requires creative thinking, because there's no one best way to find sources.  There isn't one search engine where you can find everything; the library website only links you to a variety of databases you can search.

Generally, you need to remember two things:

  1. Look in the right place.
  2. Use the best search terms.

Always keep these in mind.  You need to have a good idea of what you hope to find, and you need some existing knowledge of your topic. 

Start with course readings - they give you good background reading so you understand your topic. Then move to the library's databases and search.

Use what you find to help you find more.

  • What terms are used in the title or description that you can search for?
  • Look through the bibliographies for further readings.
  • What else has the author has written?  (Scholars tend to focus on a specific topic.)
  • Are there related items listed in the search results?
  • If it's a book, what's near it on the shelves?

There's a very wide range of topics to choose from.  Select one that interests you.

Search Terms

Step 1

Select some key terms to use for searching.  You don't enter full sentences or questions into a search box.  Think in terms of individual words or phrases that capture your topic.

Review the tutorial on Keyword Searching (on the right) if you need help understanding keywords.

Depending on your topic:

  • you may need to start with very broad terms to see what's available, or
  • you may start with very specific terms, and broaden it if you aren't successful


A Specific Feminist Activist

  • search for an activist by name
    • "Madeleine Parent", or "Parent, Madeleine"
  • search for feminist activists, then choose from your results
    • "women activists"
    • women and activist and biography and canada
    • (women or feminist) and activist
    • women and politics and canada

An Issue

  • "sex workers" and activism
  • suffrage and canada
  • (abortion or "reproductive rights") and activism and canada
  • racism and history and canada

A Time Period

  • a history database may be a good idea for this topic - they have options to limit your search by time period
  • it can be very hard to pin down a time period, so you need to focus on the topic first
  • "farm women" and history
  • feminism and history and canada
  • if your topic is a time of a specific war, try using just "war" as a search term, rather than a specific war - the terms used to describe particular wars can vary widely
    • e.g. "world war I", "great war", world war: 1914-1918", "first world war"

The Royal Commission on the Status of Women

  • this is a specific topic, and you can find information either in the Library Catalogue or in indexes
  • it's usually best to put quotes around it, to maintain it as a phrase: "royal commission on the status of women"

An Organization

  • search for the organization by name
  • use quotes to keep the terms together as a phrase: "native women's association of canada"

Where To Search

Step 2

Find a good database to search.  This guide is divided by tabs at the top, into sections based on what you want to find.  Use it to find the best databases.

  • You may need to search several places to find enough information.

Where you look depends on what you're looking for.  Generally:

  • Books: search the Library Catalogue
    • use broad search terms, because the Library Catalogue is describing books, not articles
    • you'll find print books on the stacks, as well as e-books
    • see the Library Catalogue to see how to use it effectively
    • see resources under the "Books" tab near the top of this page
  • Articles: search indexes (databases)
    • databases are listed on this guide under the "Articles" tab
    • see the tutorial on "Finding Articles" to understand the process

ProQuest Records

ProQuest is a site that provides several databases useful for scholarly articles in Gender & Women's Studies.  Use the link under "Articles" at the top of this page to search several related databases simultaneously. 

Use only important key terms for your search. 

When you get results, limit them to "scholarly journals" using the limiter on the left side - this eliminates magazine and newspaper articles.

Your search results provide a list of short descriptions, but you can click on a title to get a full record for each item.

Here's a screen capture of a full record in a ProQuest database.  Note:

  • The basic citation is provided at the top of the page - article title, author, journal title, volume, date, and page numbers.
  • A "cite" button provides a citation in the style you select, to copy and paste into the bibliography/references page of your paper.
  • Full text options are provided, including direct links and Get It! Trent.
  • The abstract describes the content of the article.  Your search terms are highlighted, but you can turn it off if you prefer.
  • Look for ways the system can help you find more sources, through subject terms or suggestions for related papers.

screen capture of a ProQuest full record