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HSC 198: Sexual Health in the Media

How this guide is organized

For your research paper, Dr. Harris wants you to do the following:

You are to choose one topic related to what we have been discussing within our course. You want to think of a problem or gap within this topic area to research it further and provide context for future implications, research, and education. The paper must be academic with no personal statements and use APA formatting in its entirety (title page, abstract, references, appendix). You are to use a total of 6 peer-reviewed and scholarly sources (one book, two websites (.gov,.edu, .org), and three journal articles).

In this guide, I'll provide you with some resources that should help you:

  • Develop a topic and thesis research question (as mentioned in Step 4)

  • Find books on your topic

  • Find websites on your topic

  • Find journal articles on your topic

  • Cite your sources

Developing a topic & research question

The librarians at Penfield created a guide on how to develop a topic. 

  • Section 3 discusses two different strategies you can use to narrow down your topic, which can help you formulate your research question.

  • Section 4 discusses how to turn your topic into a thesis statement (which is essentially a proposed answer to your research question).

Here's the link to that guide:

Something to keep in mind: your topic and research question might change as you search for, and look at, your sources. That's totally normal!

Finding books on your topic

Before you start searching for books, I recommend that you identify the key concepts in your research question. 

For example, let's say your research question is "How is the sexuality of disabled people represented in media, compared to the portrayal of non-disabled people?" 

The key concepts would be: sexuality, disabled (or disability or disabilities), media (or mass media), and representation.

Let's take those keywords to an example search. You can go to the library homepage and click the Library Catalog link, or you can use the search box below. 

Your search will bring up both print books and ebooks. Accessing the ebooks should be pretty straightforward. For the print books, you have two options: 

  • You can request the book(s) be pulled from the shelves, and you will be able to pick them up at the Check-Out & Reserves Desk. (Here are some instructions on how to request print books.) This can take 1-3 business days, so you might be better served going to get the book(s) yourself.

  • The other option is, of course, going to the shelves and getting the book(s) yourself. Most of our books are on the third floor, and it can be a little tricky to navigate - so we also have some instructions on how to locate books on the third floor.

Finding websites on your topic

Dr. Harris wants you to use websites that have .gov.edu, or .org in the URL. In this section, I'm going to explain:

  • How you can narrow down your search to those types of URLs
  • How to identify which websites are actually journals 

Searching for specific URLs

The easiest way to do this is to do a normal Google search and add (site:.edu OR site:.org OR site:.gov) after your search words. 

Identifying websites that are actually journals or articles

When I searched for my example topic, I got several results that I saw were actually journal articles. Here are some tricks you can use to identify journal articles. 

  • If the URL includes doi.org, it's an article.

  • Look for the phrase "Cited by" below the page title - that's a good indicator that it's a journal article and not a normal website.

Most of the remaining search results should be okay, but if you're not sure, feel free to ask me or Dr. Harris.

Finding articles

You may have found some good articles while looking for your websites! However, if you still need other articles, I recommend you search one (or more) of the databases below. They're general databases that cover a wide variety of subject areas, so it's likely you'll find something there no matter your topic. 

Ask a Librarian