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GSWS 101 - Gender Talk

Contact Info

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

Library Research Guides

Research Process

  1. Define your topic.
  2. Look for background information, such as Encyclopedias, Biographical, Chronologies, Guides to First Nations Research.
  3. Based on your preliminary research, formulate a research question that you intend to address through more comprehensive research. You will ultimately address this research question in your thesis.
  4. Brainstorm keywords for each concept in your topic to use for searching for information.
  5. Use the Library Catalogue to find books and use "subject lists" of Journal Article Databases to find articles.
  6. Evaluate your resources.
  7. Note key authors and works that may lead you to further sources.

Search tips & techniques

  • Use "or" to combine same concept; Use "and" to combine different concepts.
  • When you have only one line search box, then put braces around your synonyms

(____________ or __________) AND (__________ or ________)

  • Use an asterisk (*) the truncation symbol, for variation on endings of words

entrepreneur* --> to find: entrepreneur, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship

  • Use "quotation marks" to search for an exact phrase
  • Alternate spellings: use American & Canadian spellings (labour or labor)
  • Use abbreviations and full words (TV or television)
  • Geographic concepts: ( Vancouver or BC or British Columbia or Canada or North America)
  • Alternate terms: Subject headings or Descriptors or Thesauri words. Use words from the database thesaurus (if available) to increase relevancy.
  • Library guide: Search tips for Google and Google Scholar
  • Search in titles: Use intitle: to force Google to find those words in the titles of results (MUCH more specific results)

intitle:airport intitle:security “full body” (ethics OR rights)

  • Searching within a specific site or domain: Use site: to specify results from a particular web site or top-level domain

    “Airport security” “full body scans” site:gov

Identifying search terms (keywords)


To identify which terms you should use to search for books and articles write down your research question in the form of a sentence and then highlight the keywords which identify the main concepts. E.g.

  • How have employment practices been changed by the ideas of gender identity?

Think of synonyms or related terms.

  • employment (jobs, work, inclusive workplace, employers, employees, jobs, professions)
  • gender identity (gay, queer, transgender, masculinity, femininity, etc.)

Combining terms

The simple terms AND and OR allow you to combine terms to broaden or narrow your searches.

Narrow: combining with and requires ALL terms to be found in each search result (use this for finding two or more concepts in the same source), e.g. employment and gender and changes

Broaden: combining with or requires ANY term to be found in each search result (use this for finding synonyms). Be sure to nest your synonym "or" terms in parentheses to keep your search straight, e.g. work and (gender or queer or transgender).

The asterisk: the asterisk * is used for words that may have several endings e.g. femini* will search feminist, feminine, femininity, feminization, etc.

You can also put a phrase search in quotes to find an exact match instead of separate keywords e.g. "slut walk"

NOTE: For correct logic, use capital letters (instead of lower case) when combining concepts with"OR" or "AND".


Put your research in context by finding basic information on a topic, definitions, and chronologies. Background sources are a good place to start when you are developing a paper topic.


Use the Advanced Keyword Search in the Library Catalogue to search for a book on a topic.

Below are examples of keywords and a few subject headings which may be useful for your research on women and gender in Canada.

NOTE: For correct logic, use capital letters (instead of lower case) when combining concepts with"OR" or "AND".


  • Topics: feminism / women's rights / prostitution, etc.
    • women's work AND canad*
    • women AND marri* AND canad*
    • (suffrage* OR voting OR women's rights) AND canad*
    • immigrant women AND canad*
    • (feminist* OR feminism) AND canad*
    • (aborig* OR native* OR indian* OR metis OR inuit) AND women AND canad*
    • women AND (race OR ethni* OR class) AND canad*
    • "sexual content" AND media AND (regulat* OR legislat* OR law ORlegal OR code) AND canad*
    • "sexual content" AND (regulat* OR legislat* OR law OR legal OR code) AND canad*
    • (prostitut* OR sex trade OR sex work*) AND (legal* OR decriminal*)
    • pornogr* OR sexist
  • Topic: gender / sexuality /
    • social construction AND (gender or sexuality)
    • sexualit* AND (theor* OR debat* OR issue*)
    • (sexualit* OR homosex* OR transgend* OR lesbian* OR queer* ) AND (theor* OR debat* OR issue*)

Example: sexual exploit* AND prostitut*

A book from the results list, Pathways into sexual exploitation and sex work: the experience of victimhood and agency, has the following two "Subjects", which when selected, will lead to other books on the same topic:

Subject headings

  • Name of specific person (feminist) for biographical and critical material about that person. Eg. Fulton E Margaret Ethel Margaret 1922
  • Feminism - name of country/geographic region
  • Femininity
  • Feminism - Canada (women's movement in Canada)
  • Suffrage - Canada
  • Feminism -- International cooperation
  • Women - name of country/geographic region - issue (e.g. employment, social conditions)
    • Women - Canada
    • Women - Employment - Canada
    • Women - Canada - Social Conditions
    • Women's Rights - Canada (covers "human rights issues")
  • Name of a specific group of people/women
    • Girls -- 16 Related Subjects
    • Young Women -- 3 Related Subjects
    • Women -- 76 Related Subjects
    • Chinese Canadian - Women
    • Homeless women -- Canada
    • Native Women - Canada
    • Women - Immigrants - Canada
    • Women - Black - Canada
  • Subject terms for women
    • Body Image In Women
    • Mass media and women
    • Marginality, Social -- Canada
    • Poor Women -- Canada
    • Prostitution -- Canada
    • Prostitution United States
    • Sex Oriented Businesses -- 5 Related Subjects
    • Sex Oriented Businesses
    • Sexism --
      • See also the narrower term Heterosexism
      • See also the narrower term Sex discrimination or Sex Discrimination Against Women
      • See also Sex role
    • Sex discrimination in employment -- Canada.
    • Sexual Division Of Labor -- Canada
    • Social policy -- Canada
    • Women and ________ (topic)
    • Women in ________ (profession)
  • Subject terms for gender / sexuality studies
    • Gender identity
    • Queer Theory
    • Transsexual Men --- See Female-to-male transsexuals
    • Transgender People -- See Transsexuals
    • Transsexual Surgery -- See Sex change
    • Transsexualism
    • Transvestism
    • Transvestites
    • Gay Liberation Movement Canada
    • Gay and lesbian studies -- Canada
    • Gay and lesbian studies -- United States
    • Gays -- California -- San Francisco -- History.
    • Gay Rights Canada
    • Transsexuals -- Civil rights
    • Transsexuals Legal Status Laws Etc
    • Transsexuals -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Canada.
    • Transsexuals -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- British Columbia
    • Transvestites -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Canada.
    • Gay rights -- Canada -- History.
    • Gay Rights United States
    • Gay rights -- United States -- History

Journal articles