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Research Guides

WRIT 155: The Selfie in American Life


I hope this guide will provide some useful starting places for your research, as you work on your sourced papers. I'm available and happy to consult with you about any part of the research process, from finding and evaluating sources to understanding how to cite them. You can email me ( or make a Zoom appointment on my calendar: We can also arrange a time for a text chat — whatever works for you!

Karen​ Storz, Research & Instruction Librarian

Getting Started with SuperSearch

SuperSearch is a great place to start for journal articles, books and almost everything else the library has, in one easy to use interface.

For searching with more focus and precision, try one of the databases recommended on this guide.

SuperSearch Tips

SuperSearch can be a great place to get a panoramic view of a topic from a wide variety of sources. Some tips:

  • Start with a broad keyword search and scan the results to discover different themes, approaches, and interpretations, e.g., 
    • food justice
  • Scan the Subjects that come up in your results list for useful terms to try in new searches.
  • Use the filters to focus your search. For example, limit to books and e-books or scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals, or use the publication date filter to find articles or books published in the last 5 or 10 years.

General Search Tips

These search tips work in SuperSearch and most library databases.

Use quotation marks " " to search words as a phrase. This will narrow your results.

"self esteem"

Use AND to combine multiple concepts in your search. This will narrow your results.

selfie AND "self esteem"

Use OR to find different ways your topic could be expressed. This will expand your results. Group these related terms in parentheses, so the database interprets them first. The following search will find results that have either one of the phrases in parentheses along with selfie.

selfie AND ("self esteem" OR "body image")

Use an asterisk * to find variant endings (e.g., gender, gendered, feminine, femininity, etc.). This will expand your results, because again, you're providing more options.

selfie AND (gender* OR "sex role" OR feminin* OR â€‹masculin*)

Explore a Topic in Encyclopedias & Handbooks

Specialized encyclopedias, handbooks, companions, and other reference sources can be great places to explore a topic. They can summarize knowledge around a topic, synthesize scholarly discussions, define key concepts, and help you find keywords for further searches. They often include bibliographies as well, making them a good resource for identifying key books and articles on a topic. Try searching for a topic in one of the following databases to search multiple reference sources at once. 

Key Databases

Databases can contain a combination of full-text (ready to read online) and citation information that can lead you to articles, book chapters, or books. Some databases, like Academic Search Complete, are multidisciplinary. Others, like PsycINFO or GenderWatch, focus on specific subjects such as psychology or women and gender studies. The databases here are just a few that could be useful for the kinds of research topics you might be pursuing in this course. Check out our Database A-Z list and sort by Subject to see relevant databases for your topic. It's always a good idea to search in more than one database. Even if there is considerable overlap in content, the different search capabilities and features of each database can help you find different sources. 

Unsure about what database to use? Ask me!

Find Books in the Library Catalog


Note: You can change Entire Library to Online to see only materials available online. During the current pandemic, ILL is not able to fill requests for physical items, but they may be able to get you chapters from a book. Please see the ILL guide for more information.

What is Peer Review?

Many databases allow you to limit your search to peer-reviewed articles. Learn about peer review in this short video (from the University of Kansas Libraries).

Critically Evaluate Your Sources!

Here are some criteria to keep in mind when choosing and using both print and online sources:

  • Accuracy - What is the purpose of the document and why was it produced? Does the author cite their sources and are the sources legitimate?
  • Authority - Who wrote the source? Is the author credible? What are the author's credentials (educational background, past writing, experience) in this area? Have you seen the author's name cited in other sources or bibliographies? Who published the source? Is the publisher scholarly (university press, scholarly associations)? Commercial? Government agency? Is the source self-published (“vanity”press)? For online information, check the domain of the document — what institution publishes this document?
  • Objectivity - Does the author have a bias – political or commercial or persuasive?
  • Currency - Is this information new or based on outdated sources? Can you tell how current it is? How up-to-date are the links (if any)?
  • Audience - Who is the information written for: a specific readership, level of expertise, or age/grade level? Is the audience focus appropriate for a research paper?


Unsure about a source? Ask me!

Accessing Library E-Resources from Off-Campus

To access Library e-resources from off-campus, you need to either

  • be logged in to MyWellesley, or
  • enter your last name (e.g. Smith) and 16-digit OneCard number (starting with 6010…) when prompted. (Note: If your OneCard number is illegible or not working, please login to MyWellesley and click the Library tab to see your 16-digit number.)


For questions or further help with access, AskUs.