GSWS Graduate Students Library Research Guide

This guide is an introduction to some of the tools and resources useful for graduate students in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies (GSWS).  See also guides, Services for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, Research methods for gender, sexuality. and women's studies, and Primary Sources for Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies (GSWS).

Contact info

As the Liaison Librarian for GSWS, I would be pleased to meet with you with your research questions. Please contact me by email, ( or Ask a librarian.

Databases for journal articles

Databases index several hundred core journals of a discipline and selected journals from other disciplines. 

  • Women's Studies International - Start with this database for topics related to gender, sexuality, and women's studies.  After that, if you topic relates to a health issue, for example, then select the databases related to health (see image above).
  • Sage Research Methods Online - Provides information related different research methods used by various disciplines. Browse by topic, discipline, or content type (introductions to topics --> "green books" for quantitative and "blue books" for qualitative methods).
  • See also guide: Research methods for Anthropology and Sociology for sources other than Sage.

For a more complete list of databases for GSWS, try: Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Databases

Selected other databases: Major reference work, Datasets, Primary Documents databases

NOTE:  If you can't get it at SFU, in print or electronically, use our Interlibrary Loan service (ILL): Request items from other libraries.
There are no limits on the number of requests you can make and there's no charge for the service. 

Most of our article indexes have a Get@SFU link embedded in the record which allows you to find SFU library holdings for the article (print or online) or request it.

Literature reviews and current awareness

The "Annual Reviews" and "Oxford Bibliographies" databases focus on reviewing the literature for different disciplines.  The articles can provide guidance about key authors and resources on a topic.

  • Annual Reviews - Provides literature reviews for many disciplines. From within the database, you can either search an individual reviewing journal or you can choose choose to search "all journals." 

    By registering and creating a personal account within this database, you can set up "Table of Content" and "Citation tracking" email alerts 
  • Oxford Bibliographies Online  Lists key books, articles, and other sources on a wide variety of subjects via annotated and curated bibliographies. An excellent starting point for locating important literature and scholarly sources on a topic. Focuses on the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

  • ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Abstracts and Index  Dissertations and theses from around the world. Historic and ongoing coverage.  Current theses on your topic can provide you with both research methods and useful bibliographies.

  • BrowZine - brings scholarly, academic journal content together from multiple publishers and platforms into a single place, where you can save your favorite journals, view the tables of contents, and read or save articles, as new issues are released.   Use the BrowZine App to set up table of contents alerts for your favorite journals.  Use BrowZine Web to browse recent issues of journals by subject.

See also section on finding theses

Guide: Literature reviews for graduate students

Current awareness

Many academic journals and websites offer search alerts as a convenience to their audiences.   Sign up for an account or register with your favourite ejournal or article database to receive search alerts and/or table of contents by email. 

Guides: Current awareness resources

                Search alerts, web feeds, and RSS

Grey literature

Grey literature is information produced outside of traditional publishing and distribution channels, and can include reports, working papers, newsletters, government documents, speeches, white papers, urban plans, and so on.   For an extensive list of the types of documents that might be considered grey literature, see Document types in grey literature (from GreyNet International).

Type your search terms into these pre-built searches to limit results to specific organisation types. Use Search tips for Google and Google Scholar to create your search strings. 

  • NGO Search  - NGO Search is a Google Custom Search that searches across hundreds non-governmental organization (NGO) websites. NGO Search is a project of the International Documents Taskforce (IDTF) and the Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) of the American Library Association (ALA). This is a spreadsheet of NGOs included in the project.
  • IGO Search
    International governmental organizations (IGOs) are organizations made up of more than one national government—examples include NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the WHO (World Heath Organization). The governments are the members. IGO Search is a Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) that searches across IGO websites. It is a project of the International Documents Taskforce (IDTF) of the American Library Association (ALA).

For more, try the guides: Grey literatureGovernment resources, and internet sources for government information for Other Countries.

Journal rankings

Scholars frequently wish to publish in scholarly journals that are important in their fields.  The resources below rank journals for various disciplines.

For ideas on publishing in Open Access journals, try:

  • Directory of Open Access Journals open access  An index to high quality, peer reviewed open access research journals, periodicals and their articles' metadata.  Each journal must exercise peer-review with an editor and an editorial board or editorial review (particularly in the Humanities) carried out by at least two editors and/or report primary results of research or overviews of research results to a scholarly community.

Catalogue Search for books and more

Books can provide a more in-depth look at topics. 

Search SFU Library Catalogue

As a part of your literature review process, use the SFU Library Catalogue for books, articles and more.  Using the "expand" box will provide results from other libraries that also use the same Integrated Library System (ILS) as SFU Library. 

The video provides a short demonstration of Basic and Advanced Searches for SFU Library Catalogue [14:42 mins]. For more search tips, try: SFU Library catalogue search guide.

Image below shows how you can search using SFU Library Catalogue and then select the box to "expand results beyond SFU Library collection.  However this expanded search is limited to libraries which use ExLibris, the same Integrated Library System (ILS) as the one used by SFU Library. 

Search other library catalogues

Searching the catalogues below will provide you with resources from other academic and public libraries.

Books on research methods


Archival research

An archive preserves the historical records (evidence) and they can be found at local (municipal), provincial or national levels. They could be private or public. Not everything in an archive is available in the digital format.  In addition, some material may have restricted access or have an embargo period before the material is allowed to be viewed.  An archivist tries to maintain the "organization" of the collection which was created by a donor of a collection.  Materials are organized by "fonds" (collections) and usually archivist create finding aids for these collections.

For sources, see Archives

Newspapers and magazine sources

Many times newspaper stories could be the only sources of information on a topic. It is good to figure out if there are indexes for newspapers from a geographic region or a time period.  Although past years of some newspapers have been digitized, many may not have been digitized.  A case in point are the "ethnic" newspapers.  While some newspapers may have their own historical archives, some may not.  Some of the older issues of Canadian newspapers may be available in print or microform (microfilm or microfiche) formats. 

For sources, see Newspapers and magazine sources

Government documents, statistics and datasets

Governments collect and produce information on a variety of topics. You many need to find laws, legislation, regulations, data, statistics, policy documents, reports, budgets & expenditures, etc. The documents may be produced by different levels of the government. This section provides some links to Canadian, USA and international levels of governments.  In addition to searching for documents from different governments, also try seaching the Statista database (captures freely available government data), and the two special search engines from Google (NGO SearchIGO Search)

For sources, see Government documents, statistics and data sets

Citation searching

"Citation searching" is a technique to find scholarly clusters for a research topic.  Take the citation for a key book or journal article and try to see who might have used that citation in their bibliography.

Web of Science 

Index to articles in major journals in science, technology, social sciences with some arts & humanities content.  NO controlled vocabulary so you need to use synonyms and related terms to ensure comprehensive searching.  Enables citation searching and for "related records", article that have citations in common, even if they don't cite each other.  Web of Science - How to do a Cited Reference Search tutorial [4 min 16 seconds]

  • Look for "Cited Reference" Search tab.
  • Enter Author Last Name, First initial and second initial and asterisk:  Spivak, GC*
    • OR you can choose from an index of authors (just below the search box): SPIVACK G OR SPIVACK G C
  • Topic alerts - set up alerts in any category or sub-specialty and receive regular updates of the latest research.
  • Citation Alerting -keep track of particular citations, to see if anyone is citing it in recent journals.
  • You can set up a citation alert whenever you’re reading a full-text article by clicking on "Save as Citation Alert."

Google Scholar 

Indexes the full text of articles, books, reports, academic web sites, reports, etc.  Good for cross-disciplinary and emerging fields of research.

Search tips for Google, Google Scholar, DuckDuckGo, and other search engines [guide]

  • Search for your "key" article.  Check the link "cited by" right beneath the reference to that article
  • "Citation alerts"
    • TIP: to avoid an overload of irrelevant stuff, set up an alert on the page where you list out "cited references"
      • captures a "wider" range of journals and also includes "book chapters" etc.

Example:   Chakravorty Spivak, G. (1998). Gender and International Studies. Millennium (03058298), 27(4), 809–831. 

                       Cited by: Cited by

Google search tips

Search results limited to words in the title of document, using "intitle:".  Use capital "OR" for synonynms. Put braces "()" around words that mean the same thing. 

intitle:Madagascar intitle:(feminist OR feminism)


intitle:Madagascar intitle:Christianity


Search for documents from a particular country's domain.  The example below is for India, with country code of ".in"

  Web country codes

Two special search engines from Google

  • NGO Search - NGO Search is a Google Custom Search that searches across hundreds non-governmental organization (NGO) websites. NGO Search is a project of the International Documents Taskforce (IDTF) and the Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) of the American Library Association
  • IGO Search - International governmental organizations (IGOs) are organizations made up of more than one national government—examples include NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the WHO (World Heath Organization). The governments are the members. IGO Search is a Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) that searches across IGO websites. It is a project of the International Documents Taskforce (IDTF) of the American Library Association (ALA).

Finding theses on your topic and submitting your own

  • Proquest Dissertations and Theses Abstracts and Index More than 2 million citations, dating back to 1861, to dissertations accepted for doctoral degrees. Abstracts are available for all records since 1980.
  • Open Access Theses and Dissertations (OATD) open access  Open access graduate theses and dissertations published around the world from colleges, universities, and research institutions.

  • EBSCO Open Dissertations open access  A open-access index to historic and contemporary dissertations and theses primarily in the United States but also from select institutions from around the world. Some citations include links to the full text when available.

  • Theses Canada Free access to the full text of Canadian theses and dissertations that were published from 1998 to August 31, 2002. Citations since 1965.

SFU Theses 

Guide: Finding theses and projects from other (non-SFU) universities

SFU guidelines for submitting thesis


Open Access and publishing

Inter-Library loans and reciprocal borrowing

If the SFU Library does not have a book or a journal, use the Inter-Library Loans form to obtain a copy (free).  The Library will try to borrow it from another Library on your behalf.

To find out if SFU Library owns a particular book or if it subscribes to a specific journal:

SFU Library has reciprocal borrowing agreements that allow SFU users to borrow materials in person at select post-secondary libraries in BC and across Canada.  See the below agreements for more information:


Research Commons, writing help and workshops

Research Commons  provides support for academic writing and learning at the graduate level


Writing for social scientists : how to start and finish your thesis, book, or article
Writing the literature review : a practical guide
Doing your social science dissertation


  • Citation Management software:Zotero, Mendeley, EndNote, other
  • NVIVO -software to assist with organizing your research (quantitative & qualitative)
  • Tableau - a data visualization tool that is being used to help analyze data and illustrate the patterns and insights behind them.  Students can request a one-year student license as part of the Tableau for Students program. Request your license.

VR (Virtual reality) Studio: Media and Maker Commons

The VR Studio is a space to experience and create augmented and virtual reality content. We use HTC Vive Pro with a wireless adaptor together with a high-end PC that offers the tools: SteamVR, Vive Port, Unity, Autodesk, and Adobe Suite.

Printing and Scanning

Selected library guides