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Gender Studies

Research resources selected for the Gender Studies minor

Understanding Articles


  • Journals are research-focused publications containing articles written by scholars/researchers. They often have a narrow scope and are written for an academic audience. The term "academic (or scholarly) journal" is often used interchageably with "peer-reviewed journal." However, though all peer-reviewed are scholarly, not all scholarly journals are peer-reviewed.
  • Peer-review is the process of rigorous, critical review in which scholars in an author's particular field (i.e. their peers) evaluate an article prior to publication. Ideally, this process ensures that an article reflects current, solid scholarship in a given field.
  • Magazines are often called "popular" publications because of their broad appeal. They are given less academic weight because the articles tend to be written by journalists (or generalists) rather than professionals or scholars in a field.
  • Periodicals are publications printed on a scheduled basis (periodically): the schedule may be daily, weekly, quarterly, annually, etc. Journals and magazines are periodicals.
  • Serials isn't a term used very often outside of libraries, but it refers to any publication published in series indefinitely into the future. This sometimes includes books, but more often refers to periodicals.

What is an academic article? Is that different from peer-review? Are there other types of articles?

We often use the term "academic article" interchangeably with "peer-reviewed article," but they are not always the same thing.

  • Academic articles are written for a professional or research community. They are often, though not always, written in a formal style using the specialized language of the intended audience.
    • Peer-reviewed articles are academic, but not all academic articles are peer-reviewed.
  • Popular articles are written for a general audience and usually require that a reader have little to no prior knowledge of a subject. We typically use "popular" to refer to magazine and newspaper articles. Though these articles may have academic merit and adhere to rigorous, journalistic standards, they are not classed as academic.


No matter what article type you use, it is critical to evaluate the content for yourself. Peer-review can be a flawed and sometimes exclusionary process that can favor the status quo. Additionally, some publishers and journals claim to have a working peer-review process that proves to be either non-existent or deeply flawed; these are often referred to as predatory publishers and journals.

Ask yourself these questions before using an article:

  • Is the article over 6 pages? (This can be helpful to identify peer-reviewed articles)
  • What does the citations list look like? Does the paper mostly cite books and other articles? Or does it contain an abundance of websites; if so, is this appropriate for the context of the article?
  • Who has published this article? What information can you find about the publisher or the journal?
  • Does this article follow patterns you have seen in other academic work in the field?
  • What is the author's thesis? Is it supported by the evidence they provide?

Create a Search Strategy

Use Boolean Operators

The most efficient way to search in a database is to use the words AND, OR, and NOT to define relationships between keywords and phrases. Learning how to use these operators ensure that you will be able to quickly find articles that are most appropriate for your topic.

AND - combines terms and narrows results. The database must find all of the keywords and phrases in an article in order to return results.

OR - identifies alternate terms and expands results. The database will return results with any (or both) of the keywords in the record.

NOT - subtracts results containing the NOT term, narrowing the results. The database will search for articles containing the first time, then remove results that contain the NOT term.

Other Operators

Use these to further customize your search strategy

Parentheses ( ) - Use ( ) to enclose statements you want to database to search first. This is typically used to apply an AND term to an OR statement.

  • Example: (gender OR gender roles) AND society
    • The database can find either of the terms in the parentheses, but only if the word "society" is also in the document.

Truncation * - Use * at the end of a keyword to find various ending and spellings

  • Example: child* = child, child's, children, childhood

Wildcard ? - Use ? to substitute one letter of a word. Typically used to find words that have the same meaning but are spelled differently.

  • Example: wom?n = woman, women