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GSWS 333: Gender and Ethnicity in Modern China

This research provides guidance on searching for research material for GSWS 333: Ruth Wynn Woodard Advanced Seminar: Gender and Ethnicity in Modern China.

Contact info

For Library research help, please contact Moninder Lalli, Librarian for Labour Studies by email ( or Ask a librarian.

Research process

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.

Once your research topic has been chosen:

1. Search encyclopedias, handbooks, introductory textbooks, or course readings to get the background information on your research topic.  Make a note of any key authors, books or articles which are mentioned so that you can try searching for anything published by them

2. Try using Catalogue Search to find books, journal articles, reference entries and more

3. Try databases to find scholarly articles

Research topics

Below are some suggested search terms for each of the four possible research topics given by your professor.  These same combinations of terms can be searched both in Catalogue Search and in article databases.  Remember to think of alternate and related terms. 

E.g.  Uyghur OR Uyghur* OR Turkic

Ethnic identity and representational politics (research topic 1)

 Keyword combinations

  • ethni* AND identit* AND (represent* OR politics) AND China
  • [search for name of ethnic group in China] AND China
    • (Xinjian OR Uyghurs) AND China
  • ethni* AND identit* AND (represent* OR politics) AND (North America OR "United States" OR Canad*)

Gender equality (research topic 2)

 Keyword combinations

  • "women's liberation" AND China
  • feminis* AND China
  • "Wang Lingzhen"
  • (women OR gender OR feminis*) AND (rights OR equal*) AND China

Uyghur or Hong Kong human rights crisis in Xinjiang (research topic 3)

Keyword combinations

  • (Uyghur OR Uighur* OR Turkic* OR Xinjiang) AND China
  • (terror* OR "counter terror*" AND China
  • (Xinjiang OR Hong Kong) AND (politic* OR democra* OR "human rights") AND China

Lhasa Train: art exhibition (research topic 4)

Lhasa Train: art exhibition

Keyword combinations

  • Tibet* AND China
  • Transportation AND Lhasa
  • Railroads AND (China OR Lhasa)

Selected encyclopedias and handbooks

Use encyclopedias and handbooks to obtain an overview of a topic and to identify key authors and resources on a topic.

For more, try the side tab, Background information

Tip:  Check out the Further Reading lists at the end of each encyclopedia entry for citations to key works on that topic!

Find books

Library Catalogue search guide

Search the SFU Library Catalogue: Advanced keyword

To find a specific book

  Use "Browse by title"

Examples of keyword combinations for some of the research topics

You can limit the result to "books" by using "Resource type" of "Books

  • 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

    Use pull-down menu and select, "Source Types" as "Books"

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

Selected books


Routledge studies on the Chinese economy

Browse Books in the Library Catalogue Using Subject Headings

Catalogue Search / Browse then change "Title" to "Subject" and enter your subject term

If you have found one book that is particularly relevant to your research, but need more, search that book in the library catalogue and use the subject headings associated with that book!

    Find journal articles

    Search for journal articles on your topic using the databases below.  From within the database, use the "Get@SFU" icon will to find copies of articles which are not full-text within the database. 

    Try these first

    • Women's Studies International  - for issues related to gender, sexuality and women's studies
    • Bibliography of Asian Studies - Useful for search for information on China, other East Asian countries, Southeast and South Asia
    • Sociological Abstracts - for social issues
    • Political Science Complete  - Political topics with a worldwide focus, reflecting the globalization of contemporary political discourse. Activism, rights, etc.
    • Project MUSE Search  - Current humanities and social sciences peer-reviewed academic journals and ebooks from university presses and scholarly societies world-wide.
      • Use "Advanced search" and enter key words.  If searching for a phrase, use quotation marks (""). Can limit search results to "journal" or "Journal articles".
      • You can "download" the article
      • Click, "save", then press "MyMuseLibrary", then press "cite library items" to email the citation(s)

    Other databases

    • Communication & Mass Media Complete - Covers journals in the fields of communication, mass media studies, linguistics and film
    • Historical Abstracts - Abstracts of journal articles, book reviews, dissertations on the history of the world outside, excluding Canada and the United States, since 1450. Access is limited to 6 users at a time  
    • JSTOR  Searchable, archival collection (not current 5 to 7 years) of core scholarly arts, humanities and social sciences journals
    • 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.
    Tip: Check for email, export and search history options in each database!

    Primary source database

    Public mail, memoranda, reports, cables, meeting notes, news clippings, and more on the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, China's human rights issues, and U.S. - China relations in the post-Cold War Era.

    Selected newspapers and journals:

    If you have a reference (citation) for a book or journal article from another source, you can also use this tool to locate a copy: From Citation to Article

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

    Google Scholar 

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

    • Enter citation details for your key reference
    • Look at the link "cited by" (right beneath the reference) for people citing your key reference.


    Miles, J. T. toby. milesjohnson@qut. edu. a., & Wang, Y. (2018). ‘Hidden identities’: perceptions of sexual identity in Beijing. British Journal of  Sociology, 69(2), 323–351

    Web of Science   Index to articles in science, technology, social sciences with some arts & humanities content.  
                                   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:  Spivack, G*
      • OR you can choose from an index of authors (just below the search box): SPIVACK G OR SPIVACK G C

    Enter author last name, First initial and asterisk: Miles, J*

    Choose journal abbreviation:  BRIT J SOCIOL

    Maps of China

    SFU books and maps

    China -- Maps

        Maps Collection is located on the 2nd floor of W.A.C. Bennett Library, Burnaby Campus

    Primary source database

    China: Trade, Politics and Culture, 1793-1980

    Manuscripts, paintings, maps, photographs, drawings, and missionary periodicals documenting the experiences of British and American diplomats, missionaries, business people, and tourists in China from 1793 to 1980.

    Maps - Can filter maps by region and download as pdf documents

    Other sources of maps

    Searching using Google or Google Scholar

    Search Tips for Google and Google Scholar

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

    • Use intitle: to force Google to find those words in the titles of results.  Use quotation marks ("") to search for phrases
      • intitle:"airport security"
    • Use filetype: to tell Google to find certain filetypes
      • filetype:pdf
    • Use site: to specify results from a government web site
      • "Airport security”  site:gov

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

    For more tips see the guide Search tips for Google and Google Scholar

    Library guides

    Writing help