Research Agenda for Women and Gender Studies Librarianship

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Database Coverage of Women and Gender Studies Materials

The research up to this point primarily takes the form of reviews and analyses of major multidisciplinary databases like JStor and ArticleFirst for core periodical titles (Ingold 2007) as well as reviews and analyses of specialized women and gender studies databases for core periodical titles, and historical surveys of the development of specialized databases (Dickstein 2003).   Specific academic areas, such as African American feminist thought have also been studied (Hankins 2009, Pickett 2009).


The question of coverage includes how extensively women and gender studies materials are indexed in databases and online collections.  Coverage is typically measured along several dimensions: breadth, depth, and database features.   Breadth measures the scope of content.  For example, how many separate titles does a particular resource include, what genres are included,  and how many of the titles are core works?  Depth measures how many years of a given title are included, as well as whether the issues are indexed cover-to-cover.  The measurement of features includes, but is not limited to, analysis of full-text format, indexing terms, the type of organization and the level of description in bibliographic records, presence of deep-indexing, and type/extent of search options.

Databases that include women and gender studies materials include generalized multidisciplinary databases and specialized databases.   Analysis of databases should be considered an ongoing area of research because databases are dynamic both in content and features.   In addition to databases, the question of access vs ownership affects this content.   To what extent are preservation services such as Portico handling women and gender studies titles?

Digital Collections

In addition to article databases, other digital collections are also areas for research and analysis.   Online reference sources, digitized special collections, and other types of online collections that either include or have as their main focus women and gender studies materials should be examined to determine gaps in coverage.  Grey literature, ephemera, multimedia resources, out-of-copyright and orphan works in mass book digitization projects, non-English/non-U.S. serials, newsletters, zines, blogs, websites, and newspapers are all areas that need to be examined.  Are these materials being preserved, either by indexing in print or electronic sources or in full-text?   In addition to traditional women studies materials, we also need research on the coverage of men’s studies, gender studies, queer studies, LGBT studies, and other related areas of scholarship and activism.

Open Web

Search engines and web-indexing projects are also areas of research.   Personalization algorithms and the existence of the hidden or deep web may affect the visibility of women and gender studies information and materials.  The question of ad-placement and paying for top billing is also an area of research.

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This page was last updated on: October 3, 2012
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