Skip to Main Content

WGSS 301: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality in Contemporary Societies

This guide is intended to support your research in women's, gender, and sexuality studies.

The Research Process

The structure of your paper is supported by the research process.

  • Definition: Introductory section that defines the problem to be studied, introduces the research question, ends with a description of the lens or point of view the paper is taking and why this lens is pertinent to the topic. 

Background research, using news sources, books, and journalism, can help you clarify the problem, identify who it is important to/who it’s affecting, and will help define your own point of view.

  • Example: This is the body section of the paper that goes in depth into specifics, makes use of sources, and ends with answer(s) to the research question. 

Research focuses on specific aspects of the problem, so reading research articles will help you understand how experts with a lot of knowledge of the situation are seeing the source of the problem, its impacts, and its possible solutions. Your job is to synthesize (make sense of) what this research is saying about the problem.

  • Solution: The conclusion of the paper that focuses on the “what now?” of it all rather than summarizing what was presented. 

This is where you use your newfound broad (from background sources) and deep (from scholarly sources) knowledge to propose a new way of seeing the problem, and possibly a solution.

What do you already know about your topic? Background research on the key points of your topic will help you refine your research question or thesis statement. Use this mind-mapping tool from the University of Arizona to brainstorm vocabulary associated with your topic. Notice what words are being used by experts and commentators to communicate about your topic. Refer to our library guide to keywords for more tips.



  • What is the existing conversation about your issue? Are there books published that can give you historical background? Find books and ebooks in the CSUSM library.


  • What are the organizations that are working to support/protect/empower those impacted by your issue, or changing policy around your issue? Try a site search, where you set your search command to return results for a specific web domain. For example, say you want to see websites for organizations that are dealing with immigrant detention. "immigrant detention"

(Be sure not to put a space between the colon and the "dot" before org.) You can add any search terms after the domain command. If you are focusing on a topic geographically, you should add that information to your search, as well ("United States,” for example). You can replace “.org” with “.gov” if you’re looking for government information.


  • What are you reading about your issue in popular press like newspapers or other journalism? Newspapers, investigative journalism, and longform outlets like news magazines, news shows, or TED talks