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WGS 2000 - Introduction to Women and Gender Studies: Home

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Historical and Gray Lit

Search Strategies

Concept Mapping

Try concept mapping to organize your thoughts and refine your topic as you search. There are a variety of free tools you can use. Start with a basic topic or subject and think about various issues related to that topic. If you are researching a specific person, you might include branches for their childhood, education, career, etc. and then add off-shoots for accomplishments and challenges. 

Evaluate Sources

ABCD Icons - see caption

Evaluate Sources Using the ABCD Method


  • Who are the author(s)? Are they experts and qualified to write on the topic?  What are their credentials?  Are they affiliated with any organizations or a university?

  • Who is the publisher? Where was the information published?  Was it published in a peer-reviewed journal?  

  • Do a little investigating on the author and source to make sure the information provided can be considered reputable.


  • Look for any bias in the information.  Does the information presented cover all sides of the topic in a neutral, objective manner?  What is the purpose of this information… to inform, teach, persuade, or sell?


  • Critically evaluate the actual content of the document.  Is the information provided as a superficial overview or a detailed analysis?  Is the information relevant to your topic or does it deviate too much?  Is the readership level too simple or too sophisticated?

  • Also, focus on the accuracy of the content.  Does the information match your understanding of the topic and can you verify the claims in other sources?  Compare its findings to those of other related articles.  Do not rely on only one source.


  • Consider when was the information was published, updated, or revised.  Has the information become outdated?  

  • Also, look at the date of the references/citations provided.  Are those sources/studies reputable and timely?

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Find Background Information

Often, you'll discover the right level of focus as you begin your research. Encyclopedias and dictionaries can be a great place to start this research. Use these resources to get topic ideas or for background information.