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Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies: Home


This Guide

The purpose of this guide is to point you towards resources and tools that will help your research on women, gender and sexuality topics.

A term that's going to come up a lot

This guide will frequently make mention of 'citations'. A bibliographic citation contains basic information needed to specify and therefore be able to locate an item. There are different formats for citing books, journal articles, chapters in books, dissertations, pamphlets, videocassettes, and many other formats. The most frequent formats you'll run into using "Library" resources are books, journal articles and book chapters. 


In general, the publication information, including place of publication, publisher and year, identifies a book (or part of a book).


In general, the publication information, including volume number, date and page numbers, identifies a journal article.


Chapters of books can be identified by the presence of two titles, the title of the chapter and the title of the book. Two names may be listed as well -- the author of the chapter and the editor. The same publication information that appears in a book citation will also appear here: place of publication,publisher, and year.


Subject Guide

Books and book chapters

Books: overview, background, theory in depth

Search engines for identifying and locating books and a resource for figuring out which books.



Browsing -- the shelves for the women, gender and sexuality studies books

Academic libraries use the Library of Congress classification system to assign call numbers for print materials. The call numbers are assigned based on a book's topic, in theory allowing you to browse the library shelves by subject. Search engines find material based on whether the search terms you've used are present.  Browsing can be a way of finding material which uses different terms than the ones you've used or terms and relationships you hadn't thought of yet.

HQ12-449        Sexual life
HQ450-472        Erotica
HQ503-1064        The family.  Marriage.  Home
HQ1075-1075.5    Sex role
HQ1088-1090.7    Men
HQ1101-2030.7    Women.  Feminism

 Here is a chart listing call numbers for other subjects.


Finding Articles

Core Databases

Use databases to identify articles that have been published on your topic. The databases selected below are specifically dedicated to covering the journal literature for  women, gender and sexuality studies topics, or they are multidisciplinary in their focus but include WGSS coverage.  You may find that you want to look for WGSS topics from the perspective of particular discipline. You can choose a disciplinary database from the Library's subject listing of databases.


Related Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Databases

Find it @ PSU

If the article citation does not include links to the full text, click on the Find it @ PSU button to check availability. Find it @ PSU is the link to the full text article or the call number and location for the print article.

If the PSU Library does not hold the article online or in print, order it through Interlibrary Loan & Article Delivery.

Find it @ PSU

image of article accessed from Find It @ PSU from a database

Google Scholar

Google Scholar performs a full text search of the academic, scholarly Web for peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles.  Google Scholar is fabulously convenient and terrific for retrieving articles because it searches every word in the article.

Strategy tip: unlike most database searching, in Google Scholar, more words are better to focus your topic.

!!!! Link to Google Scholar via the PSU Library web page.  Navigating via the Library's site lets Google Scholar know you are affiliated with PSU and you will be offered linked to the Library's full text content.





Encyclopedias, Reference Sources

Online Encyclopedia and Reference Sources

Reference sources can perform a number of information functions: define concepts and vocabulary, provide chronologies, provide a coherent overview of a topic or discipline, contextualize a subject area by virtue of the topics which are included in the scope of a particular work, get you up to speed quickly by filling in background facts and themes.


Encyclopedias are designed to provide overview, background, synthesis and a quick examination of a topic. Articles are written by discplinary experts for general readers and often will include a selected bibliography of the important works on a particular topic. 

Womens Studies Journals

Keeping up (and/or Browsing for a topic)

Multidisciplinary Full Text Journal Archives

High Impact Journals


Dissertations from universities in North America (and some European institutions)

Often topics in interdisciplinary areas (such as women, gender and sexuality studies) are just emerging in the scholarly literature. Frequently this will mean that a dissertation may be the first formal scholarship you can find on your topic. Dissertations are excellent sources for seeing how someone else has conceptualized a question as well as providing literature reviews that uncover resources that will help you in your research.


PSU Libary-licensed Multimedia

PSU Library's collection holds many films which can be streamed in online courses.  Two things to consider with these resources though:

These materials are not "open" in that they are available under a license which restricts access to them to members of the PSU community.  Students have to authenticate to use them using their Odin account credentials.

Most of these streaming video resources are in the PSU Library collection because they are part of subscriptions.  On occasion films may be removed from some of the databases by the copyright holder. If you have developed part of your course using a particular film from one of the Library's streaming video databases, make sure that it is still available.

To search for streaming video, use this Advanced Search link and type your keywords into the search boxes below "streaming video".

Or you may want to search through any of the Library's serveral  multimedia databases a few of which are described below:

Citing Sources and Managing Citations

Citation Guidance on the Web

The following are good web resources to help you learn citation formatting and to view citation examples. 

Citation Management Tools

Tools that help you keep track of  book and article citations and can (using a plugin for MS Word) insert those citations into your paper in the appropriate format save your lots of time and facilitate sharing your explorations with others. 

The library has created a detailed guide on how to choose and how to use each of these tools.


Current Topics Resources

This page is under construction

Subject Guide

Transnational Feminism


In lieu of not 'reinventing the wheel', sincere admiration goes to Kayo Denda of Rutgers Univeristy for this wonderful research guide.

Research Skills Tips

From Question to Keyword

This one-minute video by Irma Minerva (2010) shows brainstorming for keywords from a research question.

Find it @ PSU

If the article citation does not include links to the full text, click on the Find it @ PSU button to check availability. Find it @ PSU is the link to the full text article or the call number and location for the print article.

If the PSU Library does not hold the article online or in print, order it through Interlibrary Loan & Article Delivery.

Find it @ PSU

image of article accessed from Find It @ PSU from a database

A Question as a Search Statement

The video on the left shows the process of transforming a topic into keywords for a search. Below is a screen capture of how that search might look in an article searching database such as Academic Search Premiere.

Google Scholar

This video describes how to quickly access a full text article from a citation using Google Scholar.

Topic Development

Topic Development

This video will help you find a topic that's not too broad, not too narrow, but just right.

Why Reference Works?

Scholarly reference works are useful for the following:

  • An overview of a topic
  • Topic ideas for a paper topic or narrowing your topic
  • Finding keywords for searches 
  • Bibliographies for further research

Reference works are good starting points for research, but are rarely cited in research as secondary sources. 


To access dictionaries, select this link to the Dictionaries web page that includes the New American Oxford Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary. 

The 1-minute Approach


If you can talk about your research topic for an entire minute without stopping, then you are ready to formulate a research question.This means that you have the background information it takes to come up with a good research question.

Background reading on your topic helps you to formulate a research question. Use the subject encyclopedia databases for useful entries about your topic.

Image: Uploaded to flickr by ::: Billie / PartsnPieces :::

Refining your Topic

Subject Encyclopedias

Scholarly subject encyclopedias provide background information about specific topics. Entries or articles, written by scholars or subject experts, include bibliographies or suggested readings that will lead to more information on your topic.

You can use subject encyclopedias to identify keywords for your research in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.