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Research Guides

WGS271: Gender in Popular Culture


Welcome to the research guide for Gender in Popular Culture! This guide outlines advanced search techniques to improve your search results, instructions on how to find articles and ebooks using the University of Toronto Library (UTL)  website, and a list of recommended databases. 


Want help with your research? Book a consultation with your New College librarians for a one-on-one session to help with your research. 

Get familiar with key themes and ideas

Before you get started with your research, it can be helpful to gather background information on your topic or to familiarize yourself with the key themes and ideas you are engaging with. The resources listed below are helpful and reliable sources for this information. 

Before you start your search

Here is an quick example of how you can identify keywords from your topic. Be sure to check out the link above for the full step by step instructions.

Example topic: Examine gender stereotypes portrayed  in films and TV shows, specifically looking at Disney

Searchable concepts: Examine  gender stereotypes portrayed in films and TV shows, specifically looking at Disney

Identify synonyms:

  • Gender Stereotypes
    • gender roles
    • femininity
    • masculinity
  • film
    • movie
    • TV show
    • television shows
  • Disney
    • animation

These keywords can change as you learn more about your topic. It is helpful to keep a record of the keywords you are using and identify which keywords work and which do not.

Search Techniques

Searching for resources in the library catalogue and databases is not the same as searching using Google. There are a number of techniques that you can use to improve your searches to locate relevant material more efficiently. Below is a list of search techniques and links to guides that outline how you can use these techniques to improve your searches. 

Use AND to narrow your search results to contain all of the keywords you enter.
A Venn diagram with two circles of different colours, first circle is green and contains the phrase “gender stereotypes” in quotation marks, the second circle is blue and contains the word film. The overlapping area contains the word AND in caps lock.

Use OR to expand your search results to contain either of the keywords that you enter.
A Venn diagram with two purple circles, the first circle contains the word film, the second circle contains the word movie. The overlapping area contains the word OR in caps lock.

Use NOT to narrow your search results to contain one keyword and exclude the keyword following the NOT command. 
A diagram with one circle overlapped by another. The first circle is orange and contains the word Disney, the second circle is overlapping the first, is white and contains the word NOT followed by Pixar.

How to find articles using the UTL article search

The UTL article search is a multidisciplinary search engine that combines databases and journals from many publishers across all subjects. 

  1. Start your search at the University of Toronto Libraries website

  2. Click on 'Advanced Search' in the Article Search 
    Screenshot of the University of Toronto libraries homepage with attention being drawn to the Advance search link under the Article Search heading.

  3. Type in the keywords for your search. 

    Tip: Only add keywords for a single searchable concept into each row. Use the boolean oporator OR between the keywords in each row. Click 'Add row' to add additional rows. 

    Screenshot of the advanced article search with 3 search field rows and attention being drawn to the OR operator between synonyms in each search field. Attention is also being drawn to the add row button.

  4. Click 'Search' once you have included your keywords.

    Screenshot of the Advanced search with attention being drawn to the Search button.

Limit your results to articles available online

Click  'Full text online​' to limit your results to articles with the full text available online.

Screenshot of the Search filters with attention being drawn to the Full text online button.

Use Subjects to refine your results

Each article has subject keywords associated with it which give you a sense of what the article is about. Use 'Subjects' to narrow your search by relevant subject keywords.

  1. Review the 'Subjects' filter in the left menu. Click on 'More' for the full list of available subjects.
    Screenshot of the subjects filter with attention being drawn to the more link.

  2. For any subject keywords you want to include, check off the box in the left 'Add' column.

    Screenshot of the subjects more window with attention being drawn to the buttons in the first column to add subjects filters to the search results.

  3. Click 'Apply filters' when you are done selecting subject keywords.

    Screenshot of the more subjects window with an arrow pointing to the Apply filters button.

Recommended databases

When searching in the UTL 'Article Search', you may get articles that are not relevant to your subject because this search engine is multidisciplinary. For more subject specific results, try your search in the databases listed below. Each database contains articles from specific journals relevant to the subject. Read the descriptions to identify which database is most appropriate for your research needs.

How to find electronic books

  1. Start your search on the University of Toronto Libraries website.

  2. Click on the 'Catalogue'  to search for books.

  3. Type your keywords in the search bar. Press enter or click the search button. 

    Tip: Use quotation (“ ”) marks when searching for a phrase.

    Screenshot of the catalogue search page with 2 arrows pointing to features on the page. The first arrow is pointing to the search field with the text "1 type your keywords". The second arrow is pointing to the search button with the text "2 click search".

  4. Select 'Online' in the 'Refine Your Search' option on the left side of your screen to limit your search results to ebooks. 

    Screenshot of the refine your search are with an arrow pointing to the online button

  5. Click on one of the web links to access the ebook. 

    Screenshot of an ebook in the library catalogue with attention being drawn to two weblinks available for this book.

  6. If you are off campus, you will need to log in using your UTORID and password to access the ebook. 

    Screenshot of the my.access webpage with attention being drawn to the link log in with your utorid via University of Toronto web login

Getting online access to books UTL has in print

Citing your sources

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