Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Today's hours:

See all library hours »

  • Ask a Librarian
  • FAQ

Issues in Feminism: Bodies/Text (WMST 160)

Introductory course in Women's Studies.

Beginning the Process

Begin by reading a couple of articles or a book in the area that interests you. You may want to start with a multidisciplinary database such as Expanded Academic Index or Proquest (listed in Finding Articles) to get a sense of the issues surrounding a topic.

Decide What Kind of Information You Need

Decide what kind of information you need and whether you will find it in an article, book, think tank report, or newspaper. Do you need secondary resources (interpretations, analysis) or primary resources (Hastings Center Reports)? Should articles be in scholarly journals or popular magazines? 

Decide Where to Look

How do you find scholarly articles? Books? Reports? Sometimes Google or Google Scholar are good places to start. Sometimes it's best to use library databases. Library databases are more likely to yield reliable, authoritative sources that have already been vetted. Since most scholarly journals aren't freely available on the web, you are more likely to be able to link to full text if you use a library database.

Here are some examples of sources for particular types of information:


  • Scholarly articles from academic journals-->Vassar's subscription databases

  • Books-->Vassar's online catalog, ConnectNY; some databases, e.g. Philosopher's Index (then locate in VC catalog)

  • Current news on U.S. healthcare-->Newspapers, magazines, some academic journals-->Multidisciplinary databases, LexisNexis, New York Times


Not sure how to tell a scholarly journal from a popular magazine? Read this article from the library at the University of Wisconsin:

Scholarly Journal v. Popular Magazine Articles (Univ. of Wisconsin)

Choose Keywords and Set Up a Search

Make a list of keywords and phrases that describe your topic.
Add to this list as you read in background sources. Terminology is very important. The words you use to search in indexes and databases (or Google) may determine whether you are successful in finding information.

Set Up a Search.
Basic search techniques are the same in many databases. Most databases let you use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to combine search terms. Usually search boxes and operators are provided so you don't need to set up a search using parentheses as in the example below. Most databases will also allow you to "truncate" words (use an asterisk in place of a number of letters) to find plurals and variant forms and spellings.