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GQS 494: Gender Research Seminar

Synthesizing Sources

Your literature review should move beyond basic summarizing to focus on a critical analysis of the works you've reviewed and their relationship to your research question.

There are many ways for you to organize your literature review - chronologically, by thematic categories, methodological approach, major debates/conflict, or the position/argument of the author(s). Avoid simple lists and discussing each of your sources individually, and only use the chronological method if there is a clear chronological path of development in the research on your topic.

Practice synthesizing your sources thematically using the matrix below.

Key Resource

Subject-Specific Databases

Depending on your topic and your angle, you may wish to search additional subject databases. 

E-Journal Collections

These e-journal collections provide access to many journals in GQS, but they are limited in scope and coverage compared to subject databases. In most cases, it's better to search subject databases to identify articles, and then use Primo Search to access the materials in these e-journal collections.

Interdisciplinary Databases (The Big Ones)

Google Scholar Cited Reference Search

Google Scholar can help you find articles which have cited an article that you have found. Frequent citation is often (but not always!) a marker for a particularly influential scholarly work.

Step 1: When looking at search results, check for the 'Cited by X' link underneath each result. That will tell you how many subsequent articles (that Google Scholar is aware of) have cited this particular article or book.

Step 2: Click that link, and you will be taken to a new set of results, all of which have cited the original article, which will still be listed at the top of the page. 

Google Scholar Search

General Database Search Tips

Try these strategies to become a better, more efficient searcher -- and help you find articles that you can actually use:

  • Build your search vocabulary -- keep a running list of key words, phrases, concepts, synonyms, and any related terms or ideas that you find.
  • Use advanced search features -- narrow your search with "AND," expand your search with "OR," or search in specified fields (i.e., author, title, publication, abstract).
  • Use search limits -- control the types of results you get (academic journals? language?) and how they are displayed (date? relevance?) so that you're only looking at results you can use.
  • Try multiple searches and evaluate your results -- try to figure out why you got the results you did, and adjust your search until you get closer to results you can use.
  • Use database descriptors -- once you find an article that looks good, see what descriptors or "subject headings" were assigned to it in the database. You can use these to search only for articles that have the same descriptors attached.

Tipasa: Interlibrary Loan

If your article is not available at Collins Library, you've got another option for getting it. Use Tipasa, our interlibrary loan service.

Tipasa is linked to your library account so you'll need to log in to use it.

Once you are logged in, either go directly to Tipasa and manually enter the information, or, if you're using a database, look for a shortcut link to automatically fill out the form:

Interlibrary Loan Link

Allow at least a week for the article to come. If your article is delivered in electronic format, you'll receive an email with a link to follow as soon as it's arrived.