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Information Resources for Women's Studies



Welcome to the APSU Library!  Below is information that you should find useful for Women's Studies courses. The following information is intended to assist you in determining what your information needs are,  finding the information you need, and evaluating the information you find. Links to various library services and resources are provided throughout this document.  You will need to follow each link to find out about that particular resource or service. Through the Ask A Librarian service, you can request assistance via email, chat, or telephone. You also have access to a librarian via telephone (221-7346 or 1-800-250-1890), via email librarian, or in person by coming to the Library.  You may also contact me, Elaine Berg, for assistance.  My contact information is listed below.

Information Needs

Initially, you may need to understand more about the research process. The APSU Library has a guide available that will explain and take you through each step of  The Research Process.  You may want to take the time now to go to the research process link.  One of the first questions you need to ask yourself is "What types of information do I need for my research project/paper?"  You have access to many types and formats of information through the APSU Library.  So, how and where do you find the information you need?  The APSU Library is the place to start.

What does APSU Library have available?

A good way to think of the APSU Library is as an information portal.  The Library's website is a bridge to vast amounts of information both inside and outside APSU.  Use the Library's website to find out what is available ( The Library owns or provides access to a wide variety of materials.  Austin is the Library's online catalog.  It lists items that are available both physically in the Library and items that you have access to through the Library.  You can check Austin to see if the Library owns a particular book (either in print or in electronic format), a journal title (not a specific article), videos, selected government publications, websites and other materials. The Library subscribes to a number of general and specialized databases that provide you with bibliographic citations to resources, and in some cases the full-text of the resource.  Subject pages (arranged by discipline) have been developed so that many of the information resources for a particular discipline are grouped together in one place.  Note: since Women's Studies tends to be cross disciplinary, you may need to consult subject pages other than the one for Women's Studies. Now that we have determined that the place to look for information is the Library, we need to find out how we find the needed information.

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Searching for information

You will find the following search protocols useful when searching for any kind of information.

  • Start with a specific topic.  Broaden or narrow it as necessary.  For example you might begin your research by searching for Women's health services.  Depending on your specific topic you may need to broaden your search to Medical care or narrow it to maternal health service.

  • Use Boolean operators (AND, OR) to help construct your search strategy.  Boolean operators assist you in combining search concepts and defining your searches. The AND operator narrows your search. The OR operator broadens your search.  Examples:   employee rights  AND women would retrieve resources containing information about both employee rights and women. sexism OR sex bias  would retrieve information about either topic. 

  • Limit by format and material type when searching databases.  Many databases allow you to limit your searches by material type and format such as journal articles, refereed publications, research, literature reviews, and many others.  Check in each database you use to see how to limit by publication type and format.

  • Use the references at the end of an article or book chapter to find other resources.  The references used by someone else in their research are extremely valuable to you.  By consulting those resources, you may find information that you may not have known about and that will improve your research.  

  • Check subject terms assigned to an article to see if there are more accurate or specific terms for your topic.  Whenever you search a catalog or database, always look at the subject terms that have been assigned to the resource.  You may find a better or more accurate subject term for your topic and improve your research.

  • If you are having trouble finding information about your topic, think of other terms to describe your topic.  Example: another way to describe suffrage is voting rights

  • If the database or index you are searching has a controlled vocabulary or thesaurus, use it!  In many cases your search will be much more accurate than if you use keywords.  By using the thesaurus in a database, you are using the language used by the indexers and abstractors.  However, having said that, there are cases when a keyword search will provide better results.  For new or current concepts  and issues, you may have to use keyword searching because the new terms may not have made it into the controlled vocabulary of the discipline. 


Databases index a variety of information including articles, book chapters, book reviews, letters, primary sources retractions, editorials, and others.  Some databases you will use contain only bibliographic citations, some include an abstract, and others include the full text of a resource.  I will describe some of the subject databases you will use in your research for this class in the next section.

Databases are produced by many different vendors and each vendor has their own search software.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were a uniform search platform?  The search protocols that I mentioned in the previous section will help you to search each database effectively regardless of the vendor.

Many database vendors provide abstracts for many of the publications they index.  Be sure to read them carefully.  They can save you a lot time.  An article may seem to be perfect from the title, but may discuss something irrelevant to your topic.  The abstract helps you determine if the publication is meaningful to your research topic. The abstract is NO substitution for consulting the complete article or study.

Consult the specific databases listed below to determine which one or ones you need to use for your research topic.  You may need to consult the list of all databases to decide if there are other databases that will assist in your research.

As an APSU student you have access to databases available through the APSU Library both on campus and off-campus via remote access.  Consult the Remote Access guide for assistance.

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Specific Databases

Women's Studies International covers the core disciplines in Women's Studies to the latest scholarship in feminist research. Coverage includes more than 489,600 records and spans from 1972 and earlier to present. This database supports curriculum development in the areas of sociology, history, political science & economy, public policy, international relations, arts & humanities, business and education. Over 2,000 periodical sources are represented.

Women and Social Movements in the United States brings together books, images, documents, scholarly essays, commentaries, and bibliographies, documenting the multiplicity of women’s activism in public life.  This resource examines perspectives on women’s social movements from colonial times to the present.

North American Women's Letters and Diaries collection includes approximately 150,000 pages of letters and diaries from Colonial times to 1950, including 7,000 pages of previously unpublished manuscripts.  The material is drawn from more than 1,000 sources, including journal articles, pamphlets, newsletters, monographs, and conference proceedings.   Represented are all age groups and life stages, a wide range of ethnicities, many geographical regions, the famous, and the not so famous. More than 1,500 biographies enhance the use of the database.

ViVa is a current bibliography of articles about women's and gender history, including related topics such as prostitution, witchcraft, housework, sexuality, birth control, infanticide, the family, gynecology, and masculinity.  Articles published in English, French, German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish are selected from 160 European, American, Canadian, Asian, Australian and New Zealand journals. The ViVa database contains bibliographic records describing more than seven thousand articles published from 1975 to present in historical and women's studies journals.

JSTOR provides full-text access to back issues of selected academic journals in the following areas:  African American Studies, Anthropology, Asian Studies, Ecology, Economics, Education, Finance, History, Languages & Literature, Mathematics, Philosophy, Political Science, Population Studies, Sociology, and Statistics.  JSTOR does not include current journal issues.

Project MUSE includes current issues of nearly 200 quality journal titles from some 30 scholarly publishers, covering the fields of literature and criticism, history, the visual and performing arts, cultural studies, education, political science, gender studies, economics, and many others. Links to back issues from JSTOR are available for some titles.  These direct links only work from on-campus (access JSTOR from the Jump to Database box if off-campus).

InfoTrac lists citations and summaries of most articles and the entire text of many articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers.  All subjects are covered.  Periodicals included cover the social sciences, humanities, science and technology and national news (The New York Times is indexed in InfoTrac).

Austin is the APSU Library’s database of all the materials located in the Library and the Music Listening Lab. Austin contains over 200,000 records describing books, periodical titles, audiovisuals such as videos, cassettes, CDs, and LPs, a limited number of government publications as well as selected web sites. Items in Austin may be searched by author, title, or subject.  Austin also contains records for materials that professors have placed on reserve for their classes. The records are searchable by Instructor name or Course number.

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Does the APSU Library have the periodical I need? 

The easiest way to determine if the APSU Library has the periodical you need is to search by the Find Periodicals link located under the Austin link on the Library's homepage.  You may type in the name of a specific periodical title or browse an alphabetical list of titles to find out if the APSU Library owns a title. 

Evaluation of Information

Material that you find in Austin has been selected for the APSU Library by librarians and subject faculty using formal selection criteria and professional reviews.  Resources indexed in subject databases have met certain criteria set forth by the database publishers such as subjects covered, publication type, and others. You will have to evaluate this information further to determine if it is appropriate for your research purposes. There are various criteria to assist you in evaluating materials for your research project. Here are some links that will help you to evaluate journal articles and books.

How to Evaluate Journal Articles

How to Evaluate Books


I'm sure that most of you are aware that there is some very good information, some very bad information and much in between available on the Internet.  How do you tell which is which?  As with all information that you examine for your research, you must evaluate its usefulness and relevance to your particular project. You must ask yourself questions such as who is responsible for this website?  Are they an expert in the field? Is this information relevant to my research?  Is sponsor of this website a commercial entity or an educational institution or an organization or what?  Is the information current?  Can the information be verified in other sources?  Here are a several links that will help you to evaluate websites.  

How to Evaluate a Web Page

Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages

Evaluating Web Sites

Interlibrary Loan

You may need some resources for your project that the Library does not own.  If that is the case, you need to use the Library's interlibrary loan service (ILL).  We can borrow materials that you need from other libraries worldwide.  Just fill out the online ILL form and submit it electronically. Some of you may request dissertations or theses that you find in the databases mentioned above.  Many times these documents are only available from the institution which granted the degree and can be hard to borrow through ILL.  That said, please don't hesitate to submit the request.  We may be able to borrow it.  The most important thing to remember about ILL is to plan ahead!  While we have the technology to receive articles via the internet, we still use regular (snail) mail for books and other resources.  Not all libraries that we borrow from have the technology to send articles via the internet and still use regular mail.  Plan ahead.

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Citing Sources

Once you select the sources to use in your research project/paper, you will need to put them in some type of order and format.  You will use MLA format to document the resources used in your paper/research project.  There is an online style guide for Citing Sources in MLA Format that you will find helpful.  Not every type of resource is covered by this guide.  You may need to refer to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th edition, for resources not covered by the Library's guide.  There are two copies of the MLA Handbook (Ref Desk LB 2369 .G53 2003) at the Information Desk.


I have given you a lot of information.  I don't expect you to remember all of it.  There is help available to you in a variety of ways.  The Ask A Librarian service provides help via email, chat or via telephone. You may also contact me personally (see contact information below).  I am available via telephone, voicemail, email or in person.  It is probably best to give me a call to see if I am in my office before stopping by.  Please don't spend hours looking for something and get frustrated.  Ask for help.  That's why the Library is here.  


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Last Updated: 30-Jul-2013 | Questions or comments to