Researching Topics Associated with Women and Migration and
the United States
There are many starting points for conducting research.
What's the first place most people turn to for any "research" question
You guessed it, the free Internet.
It may be first, and it may have some good leads, but real "research"
can't end with free Internet sites.
Starting First On The Free Internet
Things the free Internet is good for:
- Buying things
- Quick fact short answer questions, such as driving directions to a
particular location, time a women's basketball game starts, hotels and
restaurants in a city, etc.
- Rather precise searches: "National Organization for Women"|
"Duke Journal of Gender, Law & Policy" | "women
immigrants" "United States" health care OR "healthcare"
- Quick way to find out something about just about anything
- News. Exs: CNN, NY Times, etc. --- and also women's
news sources, such as Women's
Majority News Search
- Getting information from organizations (.org sites) about issues.
and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence
- Keep in mind: They offer their particular perspective/opinions/slant
| Things the free Internet is not so good for:
- Rather general searches. Ex: women's studies
- Careful standardized, indexed terminology and usefully organized presentation.
To be comprehensive, you need to think up lots of synonyms and permutations;
variants make a difference. Try the search women immigration
and then the search "women immigrants" and compare
the results (A fuller search using synonyms would be women OR gender
"immigrant women" OR "women immigrants" migrant(s)
OR migration OR immigrants)
- Getting to academic/scholarly/analytical articles and other research
that is on the free web, but weeding out extraneous, outdated,
non-scholarly, personal statements, ads, and factually incorrect information
-- results are a hodgepodge
- GETTING TO MOST ACADEMIC/SCHOLARLY MATERIAL AT ALL, SINCE MOST ISN'T
ON THE FREE INTERNET
Things that make free Internet searches somewhat better, for academic assignments:
- Use advanced search capabilities of search engines. In Google regular search,
put phrases in quotation marks and use ORs. In Google advanced, use the search
boxes for phrases and synonyms. Try limiting to domain edu or org and try
limiting the keywords to webpage titles.
- Read the information critically. Ask yourself if the author is an authority
on the subject; if you can determine how current the information is; if you
can figure out the purpose intended (inform, persuade, sell, entertain, etc.);
and most of all: might I be able to find better sources of information on
this subject? For help becoming a critical Internet user, try the Evaluating
Websites tutorial and the Checklist
for Evaluating Websites
- Use the Internet mainly for ideas and as a springboard to additional and
likely better sources of academic/scholarly information.
Examples of using the free Internet for ideas and as a springboard to academic/scholarly
Search : "women immigrants" Latina OR Latino in Google.
Some of the results:
This item is a table of contents from -v.31, no. 1 (Spring 1997) of the journal
International Migration Review. Use the browser "find" tool
and see where "women" occurred on the page. The article is "Undocumented
Latina immigrants in Orange County, California: A comparative analysis"
(p. 88-107). If the article is of interest, then look for the journal by name
in Madcat. The Madcat record tells
us that it is available in Proquest
JSTOR (back issues -- not the last 3 years). Go into either one and search
for the journal, then the volume/issue. In Proquest, the links for this issue
of the journal are in alphabetical order, stretching over 3 web pages. The 3rd
page has the link to the fulltext of this article.
This is an academic article. What makes something an academic article?
- Published in an academic journal, which has gone through a selection and
editing process (sometimes vetted further by "peer review" -- academic
peers of the author(s) evaluate the article. They recommend whether or not
it should be accepted for publication as is or with changes they suggest
- Scholarly analysis, with footnotes documenting where this fits in the scholarly
discourse on the topic
- Article itself represents new research and analysis
- Additional clues: length of the article, presence of data, academic affiliation
of author(s), word "journal" in the name of the publication; there
may be opinions expressed, but the author is an authority on the subject &/or
writing something labelled an editorial and published in an academic journal
This item reports on the success of a strike by Latina women immigrant workers
in a linens service for union recognition. Is this an academic article?
If not, this report could still be a source of ideas for a topic to research
and keywords to use in a search. You might also want to see if and how this
strike was reported in other news media besides the Socialist Worker
(For mainstream papers, try Lexis-Nexis/
news category: U.S. News/news source: Midwest regional news, search for Carousel
Linens in fulltext and previous two years in date range. For the perspective
of the Hispanic American press on workers rights, try Ethnic
NewsWatch, Spanish-language publications.). If you decide you'd like to
research the topic of immigrant women workers and their rights and unionizing
efforts, try a keyword search in Madcat
for women and workers and immigra? and union? and in various databases,
using the correct format for searches in those databases.
Databases to try for this and other searches: Academic
Search and Proquest
among the general (all topics) databases and GenderWatch,
Women's Issues, Women's
Studies International among the women-focused databases.
- Don't use "women" as a search term in the women-focused databases.
- Databases use different symbols for truncation (lopping off the endings
leaving a wordstem search). Madcat uses a "?"; many databases use
- A database may have a mixture of fulltext and citations-only, scholarly
and non-scholarly articles; use whatever features the database offers to find
out more information about particular publications.
- If the database allows parentheses, group within parentheses an operation
you want the search to do first.
- If the article is a book review, search for the book in Madcat.
- Use indexed terms/subject headings whenever possible. Often this means starting
with a keyword search, then seeing what subject headings a useful item received.
- When searching for terms throughout the fulltext of articles, see if the
database offers a way to have the terms be near each other, instead of just
Starting First in Madcat
Notice how often we needed to consult Madcat above. In many ways, Madcat is
a better place to start researching a topic.
Things Madcat is good for:
- General searches, starting with keyword(s) anywhere in the record
- Standardized subject headings -- no need to put in a variety of synonyms
once you see subject headings on point.
- Academic/scholarly books and book chapters
- Finding location on campus of books, journals, etc., including links
to electronic versions
- Finding some content-rich items on the free web that have been catalogued
Things Madcat is not good for:
- Finding articles within journals
- Very current topics that have not yet been researched/analyzed by
scholars (exs: Howard Dean's campaign, the movie "Kill Bill"
- Getting to most of the items in the catalog electronically (most are
for print materials) and immediately (need to find most physically in
Keyword "women immigrants" and "United States"
The list retrieved has a high degree of relevance to the search.
All the books with the author space blank are anthologies, works with many
contributors and one or more editors. Each chapter or essay is about as long
as a journal article.
There is some variety in the types of subject headings the cataloguing records
use for the books retrieved.
Keyword: (communit? or network?) and American? and women and immigrant?
Where do the keywords turn up in the cataloging records?
Advantages to WSI:
- Combined index to books, articles in women's studies journals, dissertations,
reports, conference papers, and some websites on women/gender
- If you've tried a variety of search terms and nothing turns up on
your topic in this database, that probably means there isn't anything
written about it -- or enough to do a paper on it, and you should consider
Disadvantages to WSI
- Items indexed require further look-up through .
- WSI is a composite database from several sources, including
the UW System Women's Studies Librarian's Office, and the subject terms
are retained from the sources (not standardized across all of WSI),
so best to add synonyms in your search
ALL WORDS search: immigrant* "United States" violence
ALL WORDS immigrant* "United States" AND ANY WORDS network* community*
ALL WORDS immigrant* "United States" AND ANY WORDS activism
This page is http://www.library.wisc.edu/libraries/WomensStudies/Talks/WS331Fall2003.htm
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October 14, 2003.