S SCI 160 Introduction to Gender Studies (Marshman)

A Guide to Research in Gender Studies - for students in Michelle Marshman's class

Research Strategies

Identify Keywords

Keywords are the words that capture your research focus. They are the concepts, issues, names, and more that you want to learn about. 

Use a range of keywords to find relevant sources in library databases and on the Web. 

Strategies for identifying keywords: 

Step 1: Start with what you know or want to know. For example: 

  • Start with your assignment: 
    • male body image and masculinity
    • transgender rights
  • Add in things you want to learn more about:
    • male body image and masculinity AND self-esteem or eating disorders or sports...
    • transgender rights AND youth AND laws...

Step 2: Look for keywords in the articles you read. For example

  • I found the reference article below with a search of the keywords whiteness AND women
  • The article helps me identify additional concepts, including: gendered identity, white privilege, and intersections.

(click on image to enlarge)

Identify Keywords in Reference Articles

Step 3: Continue to gather keywords as you do your research. Try a range of keywords - and subject terms - in your searches. 

Information Types

Information is produced for different purposes and audiences. Understanding this can help you strategize where to find the information you need.

  • A diversity of resources can also help you see different points of view on your topic. 
Sample sources 
Reference book articles, or academic encyclopedias, are a great place to start.
Read reference for:
  • background knowledge
  • theoretical terms
  • an overview of the history of a subject or issues
  • key players
  • leads to more information.
image of an encyclopedia book cover
Read books, book chapters, and essays in anthologies for:
  • in-depth analysis
  • history
  • opinion
  • theory
  • multiple perspectives
Read newspaper articles for:
  • a daily account of events and issues on a local, regional, national or international scale
  • analysis of current issues
  • editorial and opinion pieces
image of newspapers
Read magazine articles for:
  • more in-depth discussion of current events and issues in the news
  • longer articles written for an interested audience in lay-person language on political, cultural, and other social issues
  • opinion
  • illustrations: charts, pictures and graphs
The Atlantic magazine cover
View and listen to multimedia for:
  • documentaries on current social issues and topics
  • informed discussion and analysis
  • case studies & personal accounts
  • background information
  • opinion and/or advocacy
PBS College Behind Bars
Read trade articles to learn about:
  • news briefs or overviews of current research and tools
  • current trends and updates in the profession
  • professional terminology
  • opinion on governmental policy, current issues, and more
  • professional development
  • to find leads to more information on your subject
Monitor on Psychology
Read scholarly articles and books to learn about:
  • current research
  • in-depth analysis
  • metareviews of the literature
  • professional terminology
  • find data, statistics, charts, and other factual information
  • to get a sense of the scope of the scholarly conversation on your subject
  • to find leads to more information on your subject
american journal of political science

Search Strategies for Library Databases

Use your relevant keywords to find useful sources in library databases. 

  1. Keep it simple. Connect key concepts with AND or OR instead of typing in a complex phrase.
    • Example: transgender AND youth AND health
    • Poor Example: "health rights of transgender youth"
  2. Use AND to connect key ideas and focus a search
    • Example: whiteness AND gender
  3. Use OR to search for synonyms or related ideas at once
    • Example: "mass media" OR television OR film OR movies
  4. Put phrases in quotes to search the words together
    • Example: "mass media" 
  5. Truncate with an asterisk to find forms of a root word
    • Example: teen* = teen, teenagers, teenaged

Source: "Online Research: Tips for Effective Search Strategies" by Sarah Clark, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

Learn how to use Booleans, truncation, and quotations for effective searching.

Research Logs for Social Science 160 Research Project