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WGS300w: Feminist Theories

Use this guide throughout your research-focused coursework for WGS300w

In Class Work:

Today we will help you:

  • Understand and utilize a citation management tool (Zotero) in order to organize research for both the research paper and Wikipedia.
  • Brainstorm and use different types of searching language (e.g., controlled vocabulary, keywords, natural language) appropriately.  
  • Identify and use appropriate library and web resources for searches.      
  • Interpret bibliographic information in order to locate sources and demonstrate appropriate attribution.
  • Distinguish the key works cited in a scholarly work from the peripheral works.
  • Identify reasons why scholars track down influential works.
  • Identify authoritative voices, including creative, non-traditional and scholarly voices, on topics related to a topic.


Part 1: Brainstorming Keywords

Research starts with what you know.

Interview a partner about their topic and take notes as they talk:

  • What is your topic? And where/what did you first learn about it?
  • How does this topic impact or influence you?
  • What do you want to know about this topic?

Using your printed research log or the digital version of your choice you'll fill out the green portion/first section. Try to list the key concepts discussed in the interview in the box, as well as keywords.  This will help you build a search for more in-depth information.


Part 2: Searching

After you’ve brainstormed keywords and concepts, you’ll go to Wikipedia to search for your topic.

This will be the first entry in your research log (don't worry, you aren't going to cite it). This is how your research on this topic will come full circle--you will later be editing the page on your topic, but it can also be a good place to start! Focus on the key/influential voices identified in the Wikipedia entry.

Next, you'll choose a database from the guide and try another search. You also can choose to use the library home page to search for more. I recommend using the A-Z database list and the library catalog's advanced search function. Look closely at how to limit your search results using the facets on the left side to avoid an overwhelming amount of information.

Remember to use a combination of keywords and phrases. Adjust as needed!

Locate a source that discusses your topic in a scholarly or academic way and add it to your research log. You’ll continue to do this until you’ve found all of the sources you need. Keep adding sources to your Zotero folder and your research log.


Part 3: Critical Reading

When you have found a source that you deem appropriate, ask yourself these questions to help determine how best to use it:

  • What do I know about the author?
  • What are the main arguments or thesis of this work?
  • What does this contribute to the field on my topic?
  • What are the key works cited in this work vs. the peripheral works cited?
    • Note these and research those authors!
  • Why would I take the time to track down the key, influential works in something I find?
  • What value might conflicting perspectives play in scholarship on my topic?

Subject Headings

What is a Subject Heading?

These are standardized terms within a database or research text that are used to identify what something is about.

Why are Subject searches useful?

  • They generally get fewer results than keyword searching, but may be more relevant.
  • Finding personal names and geographic locations is easier.
  • They allow for more thoughtful search term combinations; try identifying and using a Subject Heading search in combination with a keyword from your list.

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