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Gender and Women's Studies: Researching Topics : Help

Researching a specific topic in in GWS? Find ideas for resources here!

Library Catalog

Google Scholar

Google Scholar Search


 Problem: Can't get to full-text. You found an article citation through a web search, but can't get to the full-text (page asks for a login or payment).


  • Campus libraries buy access to thousands of full-text journals, but the system has to "know" or authenticate you first through your NetID. This is especially the case when you working from off campus. If you have an individual citation already, go to the UW Libraries' Homepage, select the "journals" tab in the big search box on the top of the page, and enter your citation information.

  • If you want to use Google Scholar (the part of Google that lists academic articles and books) as your entry point, either use this link, or go to the UW Libraries' Homepage and select "Google Scholar" under "Top 10 Databases" in the "Research Tools" box. That way, Google Scholar will provide links to full-text, via "Find It at UW-Madison."

Problem: Too much stuff!

  • Examine some of your results. Select some that are right on target. Click on their subject headings to get more that are closest to these.

  • Try your search as a subject heading/index term/descriptor search (databases vary in what they call words that describe the "aboutness").

  • Re-sort search results in the Library Catalog or a database by date, so that the most recent hits are listed first.

  • Limit your search results to English-language, if that's the only language you read.

  • Narrow your topic by country, time period, or to a particular aspect of your topic (ex: feminists organizing in opposition to a particular trade agreement, such as NAFTA in the early 1990s; feminists organizing against sex trafficking from a particular country, such as Thailand).


Problem: Too little stuff!

  • In databases, use keyword synonyms with OR between them. Terminology also changes over time. For example, you may need to look for "battered women," "battered wives," "wife abuse," "spousal abuse," or "family violence" as well as "domestic violence." [In the Library Catalog, go to Advanced Search and type in these terms with OR in capital letters between them.]  Another example: The Second Wave feminist movement was generally called the "Women's Liberation Movement" in the 1970s. "Sex" was often used for both biological as well as social aspects of gender, so searching for "sex differences" is useful for earlier citations that would include "gender differences" more recently.

  • Use alternative spellings and phrases (ex: labor or labour; "sex trafficking" or "human trafficking" or "sex slavery" [and other variants])

  • Use bibliographies at the end of books or articles you do find.

  • Broaden your search geographically. Ex: if you are working on a country in Central America, add "Central America" to your search as well as the country name.

  • Try more databases.

  • Broaden your topic.  

Gender and Women's Studies Librarian

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Karla Strand
University of Wisconsin System
430 Memorial Library
728 State Street
Madison, WI 53706