Finding journal articles
Searching a database for a particular subject or discipline area will find us more subject specific knowledge and research, and our results will be much more targeted and relevant to our subject.
They also let us use subject specific filters to limit our results, such as subject headings or descriptors and publication type.
Keyword search strategies
When you identify your keywords and phrases try to think of alternative words/phrases. For example, crime or criminology. Also consider spelling variations (American and British) e.g. organization or organisation, globalisation or globalization.
Use quotation marks for phrases: “family violence” will find all records containing these words as a phrase
Use OR to combine synonyms or related terms: "family violence" OR "domestic violence" OR "intimate partner violence" will find all records containing either of these words
- Use AND to combine different keywords: ("family violence" OR "domestic violence" OR "intimate partner violence") AND gender will find all records containing these words anywhere
Use NOT to exclude words: animals NOT dogs will find all records on animals excluding those that mention dogs.
A truncation symbol will finds alternate endings of words, e.g.
sex* will find sex, sexes, sexuality, sexualities, sexual etc.
Use wildcards to compensate for different spellings e.g.
wom?n will retrieve women and woman
globali?ation will retrieve globalisation and globalization.
Choose a variety of search terms and experiment with different combinations until the results are relevant to your topic.
Keyword searching is often difficult, especially in the humanities and social sciences, because the English language is rich in synonyms, and there are so many narrower or broader terms which might also be relevant. With citation searching or chaining, you are searching with concrete search terms (i.e. the title and author of the cited reference).
First, start with a reference that is highly relevant to your research. Ask your lecturer or tutor for advice on this if you’re not sure.
You can gather, search, scan and aggregate related references either forwards or backwards in time from this key reference:
- backward chaining: reach into the past to find citations before a particular relevant reference (i.e. in its bibliography/reference list) and add new links to your chain of information.
- forward chaining: look up the reference in Scopus, Web of Science and/or Google Scholar to find articles that have cited it and bring your research from the past to the present.
Concept or subject searching
Many databases use a system of standardised subject terms (sometimes called descriptors or subject headings). Using these terms can help you find information you may otherwise have missed.
When you find a useful reference on a database, look at the full record for that reference to see if there are any descriptors or subject headings in the record. Searching by those terms may yield useful results.
These have been developed and assigned to articles by humans, which means it is a good way to search for concepts and to find similar articles about the same concept. This process takes time, so not every relevant article in a database will have them.
Library Search is a good place to start as you will be able to find relevant books and audio-visual material in our collection as well as some journal articles and news resources.
Gender, Sexuality and Diversity studies issues are found throughout research on many disciplines, such as politics, sociology, philosophy, as well as many aspects of culture and society.
This means you will access a wide variety of databases to find journal articles in the course of your study depending on what topics you pursue.
We recommend that you start with the following ones:
General tips for databases
- Not all results will be relevant
- Look beyond the first page of results (Unlike Google the results are organised by date order)
- Different databases will give you different results – so it is good to use more than one
- Use journal titles to help evaluate the relevance of an article
Searching specific journals related to Gender, Sexuality and Diversity Studies is particularly helpful for finding interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, which is particularly important for this field of study.
Journals often have themed issues and browsing them will help you make serendipitous or unexpected discoveries.
You can explore the following examples that are quite difficult to find in our catalogue:
Find even more journals to explore by using the journals tab on Library Search to search for the following:
- Gender, place and culture
- Gender, work and organization
- Gender and development
- Gender and education
- Gender and history
- Gender and society
- Gender and law or legal studies
- Politics and gender
- Gender issues or studies
- Feminist studies or theory
- Sexuality or sexualities
- Sexual behaviour
- Sex roles
There are lots of different publications in Informit and it is not always easy to distinguish between them at first glance.
There are peer reviewed journal articles and books which could be useful secondary sources to help you find research and contextual information, and there are Australian news and media archives, political publications, literary, arts, culture, industry and trade publications – which could all be useful primary sources about particular events or from a particular time and place as they go back quite far. Alternatively, they could be used as secondary sources if they are more recent and you need more contextual information than journal articles and books provide.
The types of publications include:
- Peer reviewed journal articles (e.g. Oral History Australia Journal, Aboriginal History, Gay and Lesbian Law Journal, Lilith: A Feminist History Journal)
- EBooks (e.g. including many published by Aboriginal Studies Press)
- Australian news and media archives
- Government and legal publications
- Political publications (e.g. Green Left Weekly, Socialist Alternatives)
- Literary, arts and culture publications, including poetry (e.g. Overland, The Lifted Brow, Kill your darlings)
- Australian industry and trade publications
You need to click on the title of an article to view the complete record, find out more about the publication (particularly whether or not it was peer reviewed), and access the full text.
You can also browse publications by alphabetical order, select one of them, and browse by year or search within it.
Using Google Scholar (1.36 minutes)
Google Scholar is one tool you can use to do forward chaining which involves looking up a reference to find articles that have cited it and thus bringing your research from the past to the present.
It is better for humanities and social sciences and more up-to-date than other similar tools, but still has some limitations to consider.
- Results vary in quality: Includes some non peer reviewed content and dirty data and it is difficult to screen or filter this
Does not provide comprehensive coverage and is often biased towards US content
- Few options to limit or narrow search results: Cannot search or sort by discipline or format
- Searching is imprecise when compared with discipline-specific databases
Does not perform as well for older publications and the publications that cite them that have not (yet) been posted on the web
Sometimes the inclusion of non peer reviewed content helps with policy research and analysis as some policy documents, working papers, government reports and research reports are included in Google Scholar.