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Research Guide to Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

An introductory guide to research in Women's Studies.

Credo Reference

Credo Reference provides access to a collection of resources for background information. Along with encyclopedia and handbook articles that provide names, dates, definitions, and historical details, Credo also has interactive Mind Maps that can help you think of various keywords and concepts to narrow down or broaden your research topic. Play around with the Mind Map below. Click View in Credo to see the types of background info you can find in Credo.

Starting with the Internet

Your professor might give you a specific topic to write about, tell you to pick one out of a list of options or give you free rein to pick any topic related to your class. This information will be available to you in your assignment.

Regardless of your freedom of choice, you can't just jump into peer-reviewed academic research articles if you don't even know the basics of your topic. Scholarly or research articles will have a lot of terms or vocabulary with which you may be unfamiliar. If this is the first thing you use to start your research, you might get overwhelmed (or bored, tbqh) very quickly.

You need background information: names, dates, definitions, etc.

So, at this point in your research, it's actually a good idea to do a Google search or check Wikipedia. 

via GIPHY

Don't be too shocked, we both know you were going to start there anyway :) 

But why is it a good idea to start with a Google search?

There are a few reasons.

  • It will give you a better, although general, idea of the topic you have and what people have already written about it.
  • Depending on what you need for your assignment/topic, it will help you collect some resources (websites, blogs, newspaper articles). If you need current events information, you will definitely find that in a Google search

But don't think this is where your searching stops. Google and Wikipedia are a good place to START, but you'll run out of good options pretty quickly.

In many cases, the type of information required of you (scholarly articles) might not even be available in a simple Google search. Soon after Googling you'll have to switch gears to doing research at the library. 

The pitfalls of Google

Google dominates our lives in so many ways. They are the most used search engine (about 65% of the market). Doesn't everyone use Chrome and have a Gmail account? Google knows a lot about us, but we don't know everything about them.

How does Google decide on the search results and the order they display? 

Many factors influence this:

  • Your search history
  • Your location
  • What other people are searching
  • Money: ads and sponsored content

It is important to be aware of these issues, not only when searching for an assignment, but even when you need some information for your personal life. These factors can sway your search results.

Sometimes this is okay. If you are looking for information about a place to eat lunch, you want to get results that are closest to you, not in a totally different state. 

Here is a very informative and complex infographic about this issue: http://www.seobook.com/learn-seo/infographics/how-search-works.php 

Take Aways:

  • General Internet searches (Google/Wikipedia) will help you find basic information about a broad topic
  • You should not just jump into scholarly materials if you do not do some background research
  • Take the opportunity to think about your assignment, your topic and how you want to approach answering a question or solving a problem. 
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