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Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies Resources

Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is interdisciplinary

Topics in women's, gender, and sexuality studies are inherently interdisciplinary, meaning that they incorporate information and perspectives from multiple areas of study.

You may be researching a topic from a particular perspective, such as thorough historical or literary analysis, and the method and focus of your research will be related to that perspective. Even when you do have this kind of focus, you will likely still find yourself drawing on resources from multiple points of view because of the complex ways that women, gender, and sexuality are constructed and positioned in culture. 

For example, researching women's voting rights in the United States requires historical, legal, and governmental information, sociological data, and an understanding of how cultural factors other than gender, like race, class, and ethnicity, have impacted voting rights for women. 

As you research, you will need to be creative in the perspectives and resources you seek. Importantly, you will see research as a process that takes time.

How do I generate a research question?

As you start researching for your project, it's important to remember that the process is not always a linear one. It often involves repeating steps as you find new information and refine what your research question is. This chart demonstrates how that might look:

Flow chart that follows through the research process steps of "pick topic," "initial research," "research question," "search for sources," "refine research question," "write and revise," and "repeat as needed"

You'll likely start the process by picking a topic that's either too broad or too narrow. This will give you a place to start with your initial research, so that you can gain more background knowledge. As you learn background information surrounding your topic, you will be able to incorporate new details that will allow you to find a topic that's neither too broad nor too narrow.

Eventually, you will develop a research question, which will inform your search for sources that relate to your question. As you find new sources, you might refine or change your research question.

You can repeat this process as needed until you get to a point where you have a final question for which you've been able to find relevant sources.

For some visual tools that can be helpful in organizing your thoughts, ideas, and research directions, see the following:

Where can I find background information?

As you explore your research question, you may want to consult sources such as encyclopedias or news databases to learn more about the history and culture of the item you are studying. The following sources are excellent places to seek this kind of background information. As you search these sources, take note of new terms, names, places, and concepts, as these will add to the context of your question and will help you find search terms to use as you go on to search for scholarly secondary sources.