GSWS 411 / GSWS 823 Feminist Media Studies

 Contact info

For Library research help, please contact Moninder Lalli, Librarian for Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies by email ( or Ask a librarian.


Start Your Research Here - This page gives you an overview of the research process, or in other words how to find materials for your essay.

Doing literature reviews

Process of doing a literature review.

1. Define your topic
2. Choose keywords (concepts) that describe your topic
3. Choose appropriate database(s):
     a) start with the discipline's database: Women's Studies International
     b) use database(s) of other disciplines that might also take a look at that topic: Communication and Mass Media Complete  
         In a non-feminism focused database, also include keyword such as, "feminis*", in your search strategy.

   For graduate students, in addition to above:
     a) check databases that provide access to "reviewing journals" (Annual Reviews, Oxford Bibliographies Online)
     b) check for dissertations on your topic using ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Abstracts and Index

4. Once you find relevant articles, check who might have cited your key article (Google Scholar or Web of Science)

Below are some guides on writing literature reviews. 

Evaluating sources

  • Whether you've found a blog post online, or a journal article, report, or book in the Library, or any other kind of resource, it's essential to evaluate its reliability.
  • Make sure to ask the basic questions: Who? What? Where? When? and Why? For more, try the guide, Evaluating sources

Encyclopedias for overviews

Encyclopedias, handbooks or textbooks provide overviews, definitions and identify key authors and ideas.

Find scholarly journal articles 

For help, refer to the How to find journal articles, What is a scholarly journal?, Finding articles: Advanced search techniques [video 3:13 mins]

Start by searching the database(s) for a discipline.  
Limit search results to academic or scholarly articles.
If full-text of article is not available from within the database, click on the "Get@SFU" to start a search.  If the Library does not provide access, then use the Citation Finder/ILL tab (in Catalogue Search) to request a copy from another library (free). through SFU Library's . For more, see How to place an Interlibrary Loan (ILL) request

Start with

  • Women's Studies International - key database for feminist perspectives
  • Strategies:
    • Use this database to find key feminist articles
    • Don't necessarily need to use "feminist" or "feminism" since presumably, the entire database would have that focus.
    • Find existing literature reviews on your topic or articles that critically analyze your topic
      • Useful subject terms: literature review*
      • Useful subject terms: "feminism and mass media" OR "feminism in mass media"
      • type of media or topic AND literature review
        • (film OR TV OR television OR media) AND literature review
        • (sitcom* OR situation comed*) AND literature review
        • (reality TV OR reality television) AND literature review
        • porn* AND literature review
        • "sex and the city"
        • "celebrity culture"
    • Find articles that critically analyze your topic 
      • (film OR TV OR television OR media) AND (critique* OR critic* OR analys*)
  • Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text  Subject coverage includes film & television theory and reviews, including Variety movie reviews from 1914 to the present.
  • Academic Search Premier - Multidisciplinary index to academic and popular journals. Indexes many women's studies journals.
  • Business Source Complete - A good place to start your search for academic or practitioner articles. BSC also contains industry and market reports, advertising, consumers, etc.
  • CBCA Fulltext Reference - Covers Canadian topics including business, politics, literature, history and news event
  • Communication and Mass Media Complete  - Important database for "popular culture" and "media" topics.
    • Does NOT have a thesaurus term for "literature review".
    • Database uses "TELEVISION program reviews" OR  "THEATER reviews"
      • porn* AND (review OR critic* OR analysis OR critique*) AND feminis*
      • "sex and the city"
      • "celebrity culture"
  • PsycINFO: - for the psychological aspects of any topic
  • Sociological Abstracts - Theoretical and applied sociology, social science, and policy science
  • Social Sciences Full Text - provides access to social science journals

Find articles that "cite" your "key" article in their bibliography (use Google Scholar)

Databases with literature reviews

The "Annual Reviews" and "Oxford Bibliographies" are two databases that focus on reviewing the literature for different disciplines.  The articles can provide guidance about key authors and resources on a topic.  In these databases "Gender" or "Women's Studies" are not covered as separate disciplines, however, depending on your topic, there may be "review" articles found within the disciplines of Sociology, Psychology, Geography, Communication, Criminology, etc.

  • 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.

Graduate students

For your area of research, in addition to the above databases, you may also want to search the database (below) that indexes M.A. and Ph.D dissertations. Most of the Canadian dissertations will be open access so you could do a search on the internet for the author and title and the name of the university. For those that are not found as open access, please try using the Library's Inter-Library Loans service.

Selected journals

Who has "cited" your key sources? 

"Citation searching" is a technique to find scholarly clusters for a research topic by searching to see who might have "cited" your key resource in their book or article.  There are two databases which provide citation searching, Web of Science and Google Scholar.

Before using Google Scholar, set up SFU library links in Google Scholar to obtain access to the fulltext of articles, available for the subscribed journals

              Key article cited by others: Cited by

For more, see "Citation searching"

    Find books and more

    How to use the Library Catalogue  [guide]

    Do a Library Catalogue search to see if the Library owns or provides access to the sources that you've identified. 

    For known items it is best to check using "Browse by title" icon.

    Search by topic, using Basic or Advanced Search

    Note: Searches can be limited to "Online Resources only" and "Resource type" of "Books" and selected "Subjects"

    Proper syntax for Boolean logic (words that allow you to combine concepts)

    Combine different concepts using AND
    Combine same concepts using OR
    quotation marks to search for a phrase
    Use brackets for synonyms
    Use asterisk (*) for different endings of words

    Note:  For Catalogue Search, when combining concepts, use CAPITAL letters ( "OR", "AND")

    Look at the titles in the "results list" and for those books that look relevant, click on their subject headings to find more books on that topic.

    Selected books

    Choose: Browse tab, change "title" to "subject"

    For books about a person, search for the person as "Subject" using "Advanced Search" or "Browse by subject"

    E.g.  Baker, Josephine

     Browse by Subject (change the default "Title" to "Subject")

    Find films

    How to use the Library Catalogue  [guide]

    Do a Library Catalogue search to see if the Library owns or provides access to the sources that you've identified. 

    Search by topic, using Basic or Advanced Search

    (African American OR Black) AND feminis*

    • Limit results to "Resource type" of "videos"


    • Limit results to "Resource type" of "videos"

    Searching the internet

    Using Google to search for blogs

    Search tips for Google and Google Scholar

    • Don't need to use "AND" to combine different concepts.  Google assumes an "AND"
    • Use a capital "OR" to combine same concept words. Put parentheses (  ) around synonyms or related words, joined by an OR.
    • Use site: to limit results to a particular URL.  E.g. will find URLs ending with .ca (for Canadian URLs)
    • Use intitle:your words, to limit the results to sites which have your words in the title of the document or website
    • Use quotation marks (" ") to search for a phrase. E.g. "Black Feminism"

    Look for blogs from educational institutions.  Look at the author's credentials.  Is the person a scholar? Do they teach at a university or a college?

    Blogs from US educational institutions have URLs ending with ".edu"

    Search: feminist blogs

    Blogs from universities in Canada.  The URL would end with ".ca" and the term, "university" should bring up website with the word "university"

    Search: feminist blogs university

    Blogs on a topic.

    Search using terms from your topic.  In addition find URLs from a US or a Canadian educational institution.

    Search: blog intitle:(African American OR Black) (feminist OR feminism)

    Search: blogs (African American OR Black) (feminist OR feminism) ( OR (critique OR analysis OR critical) (media OR tv OR television)

    Words in title of a document or a website

    Search: blog intitle:(African American OR Black) (feminist OR feminism) ( OR (critique OR analysis OR critical) intitle:(media OR tv OR television)

    Find blogs

    Blog directories

    This book recommends using two blog directories

    Information retrieval on the blogosphere

    Find YouTube videos

    Use the same search techniques as with Google or Google Scholar.


    Look for video channels from academic organizations.

    Search: "Black Feminism" (university OR college OR professor) - get results from academics.

    Search: "Black Feminism" - get results from PBS, Brown University, etc.

      Library research guides

      Writing help

      For undergraduate students, the Student Learning Commons provides assistance and numerous, helpful guides.

      For graduate students, the Research Commons provides writing support services and resources for graduate researchers, including access guides, handbooks, Read-Ahead, writing consultations, the Open Writing Lab, and Thesis Boot Camp.