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ENGL 4072/WGST 4050: Girl Cultures

Research guide for Kathleen Hogan's ENGL 4072/WGST 4050 course with a focus on finding relevant and reliable information on diverse girls and social media.

Girls, Social Media, and Empowerment

Welcome! This research guide will help you explore one of the central questions in your course: 

How does social media work to empower (or disempower) girls, particularly underrepresented girls and girls of color?

Phone screen with social media apps present

Image from Pixabay

This guide will teach you show to find and evaluate information to help answer this question. 

Navigating the Research Process

Research is a process that allows us to explore and seek answers to questions that interest us. This process allows us to create new knowledge, open up new lines of inquiry, and contribute to scholarly conversations. It can be visualized as a sort of cycle, like the one below:

Graphic illustration of the research process cycle.

Image from Salt Lake Community College

While this visual shows the research process divided into 6 main sections, in reality, these actions can overlap, happen simultaneously, or be repeated. The research process is flexible so remember to remain flexible as a researcher. As long as you've completed each step, you're likely to succeed.

Basic Search Tips

Library databases cannot understand if you type in an entire sentence or question. You'll need to break your topic down to the most essential ideas or concepts. These are your keywords.

Example research question:  How does social media work to empower girls of color?

My keywords are the main ideas: social mediaempowergirls of color

Brainstorm synonyms for your keywords so you have more options to search. Most keywords have a synonym or like-term, but not all do. Try to come up with at least one synonym for each of your keywords.


Social media (keyword)      Twitter (synonym)

As you are finding resources, pay attention to the words scholars use. You may want to adopt these as new keywords to try.

Image of catalog with modify options highlightedMost library databases have options for you to refine your search. You may want to refine by:

Peer Reviewed: Limit your search to scholarly articles only

Date Range: Limit your search to sources published in a range of years, or find the most recent sources

Resource Type: Limit by the type of source you want to find (like books, articles, films, etc.)

Finding Relevant Information

Image of boolean operator ANDUse the option AND to find only sources that mention both keywords.


social media AND girls of color

This will bring back results that have both of these terms within their text.

Image of using OR boolean operator

Use the option OR to find sources that mention both keywords.


social media OR twitter

This will bring back more sources because the results could hold either term.

Place quotation marks around a phrase that you want to keep together. This will bring back results that use this exact phrase.


"social media"

"people of color"

Image of catalog search using quotation marks

VIDEO: #BlackGirlMagic