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Liaison Librarian: Malinda Triller Doran, 717-245-1462

WGST 300: Postcolonial Feminist Science Studies


Getting Started: Developing a Topic and a Research Plan

Selecting a topic can be challenging. Thinking carefully about the question you want to answer and developing a research plan will make the research process easier.

For suggestions on how to develop a topic and a research plan, view the Focusing a Topic Worksheet.

Reference Works (Encyclopedia's, Dictionaries, etc.)

Reference books (tertiary sources) like encyclopedias are a good place to start your research, especially if you are unfamiliar with your topic. They provide a good overview of an issue or event, summarize key points in a person's life, and define terminology. While it is not appropriate to base a paper upon reference sources, they are helpful in identifying keywords for book and journal searches, and they often include bibliographies to assist in identifying additional resources.

Online Reference Resources

Below is a list of selected online reference resources relevant to Women's and Gender Studies. To find additional sources, enter your keyword terms into the library catalog's keyword search box and enter "electronic reference sources" in the subject search box.

Credo Reference

Includes almost 500 encyclopedic titles from respected publishers in all disciplines taught at Dickinson, including various language dictionaries, the Marquis Who’s Who series and numerous other biographical sources, economics and business encyclopedias, food and agriculture sources, publishing sources, atlases, and many encyclopedias covering the arts, history, literature, science, technology, religion, philosophy, politics, psychology, geography and country studies, and more.

The Oxford encyclopedia of women in world history / Bonnie G. Smith, editor in chief. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Encyclopedia of American Studies Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010

Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: Men and Women in the World's Cultures / Carol R. Ember and Melvin Ember, eds. New York: Springer, 2003.

Encyclopedia of Women and Gender: Sex Similarities and Differences and the Impact of Society on Gender / Judith Worell. Academic Press, 2002.

Encyclopedia of Women's Autobiography / Victoria Boynton and Jo Malin, eds. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2005.

Feminist Philosophies A-Z / Nancy Arden McHugh. Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press, 2007.

Fifty Key Concepts in Gender Studies / Jane Pilcher and Imelda Whelehan. Calif.: SAGE Publications, 2004.

From Suffrage to the Senate : America's Political Women : An Encyclopedia of Leaders, Causes & Issues / Suzanne O'Dea. Millerton, NY: Grey House Publishing, 2006.

GLBTQ: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, & Queer Culture/ general editor, Claude J. Summers, William E. Stirton Professor in the Humanities Emeritus, University of Michigan-Dearborn

Queer America : A GLBT History of the 20th Century / Vicki Lynn Eaklor. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2008.

Women and Politics around the World : A Comparative History and Survey / Joyce Gelb and Marian Lief Palley, eds. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2009.

Print Reference Resources

Below is a selected list of some print reference resources available in the Dickinson library. To find additional resources, conduct a keyword search in the catalog and choose "Reference stacks" in the Location field at the bottom of the catalog screen.

The Atlas of Women in the World / Joni Seager. London: Earthscan, 2009. REF G1046 .E1 S4 2009

Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures / Suad Joseph, ed. Leidin: Brill, 2003. (3 volumes) REF BP173.4 .E538 2003

A Feminist Glossary of Human Geography / Linda McDowell and Joanne P. Sharp, eds. London: Oxford University Press, 1999. REF G63 .G5 1999

Handbook of Lesbian and Gay Studies / Diane Richardson and Steven Seidman, eds. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE, 2002. HQ75.15 .H36 2002

Homosexuality and Religion : An Encyclopedia / Jeffrey S. Siker, ed. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2007. BL65 .H64 H63 2007

Our Bodies, Ourselves : A New Edition for a New Era / Boston Women's Health Book Collective. Simon & Schuster, 2005. REF RA778 .N49 2005

Reader's Guide to Lesbian and Gay Studies / Timothy F. Murphy, ed. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2000. REF HQ75.15 .R43 2000

The Routledge Critical Dictionary of Feminism and Postfeminism / Sarah Gamble, ed. New York: Routledge, 2000. REF HQ1115 .R68 2000

Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women : Global Women's Issues and Knowledge / Cheris Kramarae and Dale Spender, general editors. New York: Routledge, 2000. (4 volumes) REF HQ1115 .R69 2000

Women, a Modern Political Dictionary / Cheryl Law. London: I.B. Tauris, 2000. REF HQ1595 .A3 L38 2000

The World's Women, 2000 : Trends and Statistics / United Nations. New York: United Nations, 2000. REF HQ1154 .W95 2000

Finding Books

Tools to Search for Books

Use the Dickinson library catalog to search for books on your topic that Dickinson owns.

Use WorldCat to search for additional books outside of Dickinson's collection.

You may borrow books from other libraries using PALCI/EZborrow.

Finding Scholarly Articles

Key databases for finding Women's and Gender Studies articles

Women's Studies International - Core database for feminist research from 1972 to the present. Contains citations and some full-text of journals, newspapers, newsletters, bulletins, books, book chapters, proceedings, reports, theses, dissertations, non-governmental organization studies, Web sites & Web documents, and grey literature.

CWI (Contemporary Women's Issues - Global resource addressing women’s issues, including health, human rights, law, the workplace, gender equity, family, education, sexual violence and exploitation, lesbian concerns, feminism, arts and media, culture and customs, and reproductive rights. Includes English-language titles from East and West Africa, Asia, and South and Central America, the Caribbean, North America and Europe. Contains citations only. Resources date from 1992 to present.

GenderWatch - Resource addressing the evolution of the women's movement, men's studies, the transgendered community, and the changes in gender roles over the years. Publications are mostly full-text and date from 1970 to the present. They include scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, regional publications, books, and reports from government agencies and non-governmental organizations.

LGBT Life - Index to the world's literature regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Disciplines covered include civil liberties, culture, employment, family, history, politics, psychology, religion, and sociology. Full-text coverage from 1953-present.

Databases in Related Disciplines

America: History and Life Includes secondary source articles, books, and book reviews published between 1964 to present. Some full-text links included. Use the library's "Get It!" button to obtain materials with no direct full-text link. NOT A GOOD SOURCE FOR ANCIENT OR MEDIEVAL HISTORY, OR FOR TOPICS NOT DEALING WITH NORTH AMERICA

Family and Society Studies Worldwide Includes coverage of research, policy, and practice literature in the fields of Family Science, Human Ecology, Human Development, and Social Welfare. Publications cover a wide range of social science disciplines including anthropology, sociology, psychology, demography, health sciences, education, economics, law, history and social work.

Family Studies Abstracts Covers essential areas related to family studies, including marriage, divorce, family therapy, and other areas of key relevance to the discipline.

Violence and Abuse Abstracts Covers essential areas related to violence and abuse, including family violence, sexual assault, emotional abuse, and other areas of key relevance to the discipline.

Finding Primary Sources

What is a primary source?

Research Guides (links to bibliographies, archives, and Web sites) - This site contains links to feminist activist groups, feminist writings, and other Web sites addressing topics from body image to race to politics.

International Institute of Social History: Women's History - An international site with information & databases about research in feminist and women's history.

Jewish Women's Archive - This site includes encyclopedia entries, biographies, and links to information about archival resources (some available in full-text).

National Women's History Project - The National Women's History Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the diverse and historic accomplishments of women by providing information and educational material and programs.

Research Resources for the Social Sciences - An important and valuable metasite: a gateway to assorted additional web information. Includes links to a variety of resources helpful in many fields of the social sciences, including sociology/anthropology, demography, women's studies, etc.

The Sex Workers Project - This advocacy group "protects and promotes the rights of individuals who engage in sex work." Its Web site contains resources regarding sex workers' rights and support, health and wellness, sexual assault, and trafficking.

WWW Virtual Library Women's History - This site lists women's history institutions and organizations, archival and library collections, and provides links to Internet resources on women's history. The site also includes a list of women's studies journals and a few comprehensive links useful as a starting point for searching the Internet for women's studies in general.

Women's History Archives

Discovering American Women's History Online - This database provides access to digital collections of primary sources (photos, letters, diaries, artifacts, etc.) that document the history of women in the United States. These diverse collections range from Ancestral Pueblo pottery to interviews with women engineers from the 1970s.

Women's Experiences at Dickinson blog - This blog contains stories about all aspects of female students’ experiences at Dickinson from the 19th century to the present. Includes digital images of original documents and select soundclips from oral history interviews with alumnae. Visit the Dickinson Archives for access to original materials.

Women and Social Movements in the United States - Organized around the history of women in social movements in the U.S. between 1600 and 2000, this collection advances scholarly debates and understanding about U.S. history generally at the same time that it makes the insights of women's history accessible. The collection currently includes 94 document projects and archives with more than 3,750 documents and 150,000 pages of additional full-text documents, and almost 2,100 primary authors. It also includes book, film, and website reviews, notes from the archives, and teaching tools. Includes access to the online version of Notable American Women and the database on Commissions on the Status of Women.

Women Working: 1870-1930 - digital primary sources provided by Harvard University.

Sophia Smith Collection: Women's History Archives at Smith College

Documents from the Women's Liberation Movement: An On-line Archival Collection sponsored by Special Collections Library, Duke University This site contains transcriptions of selected original documents from the women's liberation movement held by Duke's Special Collections

LGBTQ resources

For primary sources related to LGBTQ issues, visit the Dickinson library LGBTQ wiki.

Media Resources

AdViews: A Vintage Archive of Digital Television Commercials

American History in Video Streaming online newsreels, archival films, and documentaries covering all periods of U.S. history.

Chronicling America This is a database of historic newspapers collected by the library of congress.

Google Books and Magazines Browse and search popular magazines and books.

Reader's Guide Fulltext Index of articles published in approximately 175 popular magazines, news magazines, and other general interest periodicals. 1983-present.

Reader's Guide Retrospective Index of subjects in the popular press, including art, business, computers, dance, drama, education, entertainment, fashio, film & television, food, health & medicine, history, literature, news & current events, photography, popular & classical music, politics, popular culture, religion, science, sports & fitness, transportation, and travel. 1890-1982.

Moving Image Archive Sponsored by the Internet Archive, this is an online source for video clips, including news footage, movies, cartoons, commercials, and home movies.

Old Time Radio Shows Sponsored by the Internet Archive, this is an online source for audio clips of old time radio shows.

Small Town Newspapers This is an enormous list of links to online editions of local newspapers from across America as well as historic archived content for many.


From Dickinson's DVD collection A list of selected DVDs (primarily documentaries) related to Women's and Gender Studies

Films on Demand Thousands of streaming films in the humanities and social sciences. You can use Films On Demand to search for specific video segments, organize videos into folders, and create personal playlists. Closed captioning is available for many films. Subject areas include anthropology, art, communications, education, literature, geography, history, music, philosophy, religion, sociology and world languages. Titles include historical documentaries, biography, author interviews, performances, and world affairs.