Resources and tips for Gender and Culture in MENA.

BEFORE you dive into your research…

  • Create a personal JSTOR account (for instructions, go to the Student Information course in itslearning  and open the library folder).
  • Familiarize yourself with JSTOR’s My Workspace feature, valuable for long-term projects.
  • Customize the settings in your Google Scholar account (use an active email):
    • Add library link to VCU
    • Activate saving of citations to My Library
    • Explore Metrics feature (and labels if you wish to use those)
    • Set search Alerts if desired (require an active email)
  • Decide on an organizational strategy and a note-taking method. If you need ideas, consult with Ms. DeGroat or Ms. Cross.
  • Start your CMS-style source list in Noodle Tools (and revalidate your NT account)
  • Submit a MLWGS university borrowing form to Ms. DeGroat in exchange for a VCU Library pass so you’re ready to borrow books from VCU Libraries.

Language Matters

As you do your preliminary research, build a list or map of potential search words by paying attention to the language used to discuss the topic and to named people, events, places, court cases, treaties, legislation, etc. that arise in the conversation.

Note any subject headings/terms assigned to a source too.

Notice how language shifts when bias shifts. Changing your search words can help you locate sources from contrasting perspectives.

As you read, do so actively and with intention, striving to learn not only your topic’s history and key terms, but also aspects about your topic that will superpower your ability to find related resources and develop and refine a thesis, such as noticing…

  • How information about the topic is organized
  • Special vocabulary used by those who discuss the topic
  • Differences of opinion, controversies, or unanswered questions related to the topic
  • Individuals, groups, organizations, or agencies associated with the topic

Research Sources

Arab Spring (Libguide by Cornell librarian Ali Hoissa) – organized by country – some resources are open source, others are only accessible by Cornell students
Arabic and Middle Eastern Electronic Library (incl. Palestinian Gazette, 1919-48)
Digital Transgender Archive (international collaborative project) – includes glossary of global terms related to transgender identity
EBSCO ebooks – books covering range of topics and perspectives
Encyclopedia Iranica – international collaborative project based at Columbia U
Explora – magazines & journals (both trade/professional and scholarly)
Google Scholar – reports, older journal articles, and a wide array of sources
Genderwatch and Historical Newspapers – Genderwatch offers “over 300 titles (more than 250 in full-text) from an array of academic, radical, community, and independent presses . . . on wide-ranging topics like sexuality, religion, societal roles, feminism, and masculinity”; Historical Newspapers include The New York Times (1851-2013), The Wall Street Journal (1889-2000), and London’s Guardian and Observer (1791-2003)
Jewish Women’s Archive
JSTOR – archive of scholarly articles (does not include most recent 5 years)
MENA Cinema and Film (guide from Cornell)
MENA Guide (U Chicago Library) – FABULOUS reference for becoming familiar with reference info and news related to specific countries in the MENA region; includes list of NGO’s for each country
Microsoft Academic Research – similar to Google Scholar
MW Library Catalog – esp. biographies and nonfiction books in the 300’s and 900’s
NationMaster – statistics
PowerSearch (Gale) – news, journals, and magazines incl. The Economist. For news from a certain city, state, or country, put the place name in the Publication Title field.
Science Direct (Elsevier) – scholarly journals – incl. social sciences and psychology
Statistics by country (resource list from Yale University Libraries)
UNICEF statistics on women and children
Virtual Reference Library – includes a Gender Studies Collection. To search ONLY these books, open the collection and use the search box below “Search within collection.” Some of these reference sources qualify as scholarly.
Women in Islam (Libguide by Cornell librarian Ali Hoissa) – includes resource lists related to Muslim feminism, dress codes, and more – although some resources are only accessible by Cornell students, many others are open source; also includes lists of books to check for in RVA libraries
WomenStats Project – a global data collaborative
World Bank: Gender (see also World Bank Gender Data Portal)
World History in Context – history focus (unlike general PowerSearch database)

Relevant journals in Explora include the following:
African Studies (Jul-1999 to present with 18-month delay)
African and Asian Studies (Feb-2002 to present with 36-month delay)
Central Asian Survey (Mar-1999 to present)
Gender & Education (Mar-1990 to present)
Gender Issues (1990 to present with 12-month delay)
Journal of Religion in Africa (Feb-1999 to present)
Sociological Research (Jan-2001 to present)
Women’s Studies (Jan-1986 to present)

Relevant journals in JSTOR include the following:

Apply JSTOR features beyond basic search, such as the following:

  • Narrowing search by discipline (e.g. African Studies, Middle East Studies, Feminist & Women’s Studies, Political Science, Architecure)
  • Browsing for journals by subject
  • Searching within a specific journal title
  • Using the NEAR operator in your search

Saving the correct link to articles in databases

Strategic Reading

Scholarly journal articles demand strategic reading.  Unlike magazine or newspaper articles, scholarly articles often run ten to forty pages in length with dense, technical language.  Before you invest time in reading a journal article in its entirety, quickly assess its relevance to your research question AND your own ability to understand the findings presented.  To get a quick sense of what the article is about – and the level of technical expertise required to understand it, skim the abstract (if available), introduction, figures/table headings, and conclusions.
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