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Disability Studies: Research Tips for Disability Studies

An overview of resources available at Fordham University Libraries and beyond for Disability Studies research.

Research Assistance for Disability Studies

Welcome to the Disability Studies research guide at Fordham University Libraries. This guide is designed to provide an overview of resources available at Fordham for Disability Studies research.

Question  If you are having difficulties locating research materials in this area, feel free to ask a librarian for assistance:

  • Live chat with a librarian through Ask-a-Librarian;
  • Email one of the librarians assigned to Disability Studies below to ask questions and/or schedule a research consultation.

Finding Language for Your Research Questions in Disability Studies

Selecting keywords for research in Disability Studies can be challenging for a variety of reasons:

  • There is no single, agreed-upon definition of disability.
  • Language for naming and describing disability changes over time and varies across regions and cultures. 
  • Terms and/or subject classifications used in academic or clinical literature may vary from language that is used in everyday speech. Some research employs a medical model of disability while other research embraces the social model or rights-based understanding of disability.
  • There is debate among people with disabilities about people-first language versus identity-first language.
  • Additionally, some people with disabilities may use reclaimed terms to name themselves that were once considered offensive (i.e. "crip").

Taking language issues into account will help with selecting keywords as you search for books, articles, statistics, primary sources, audiovisual materials, data sets, and more. This page offers resources below to help understand current and historical terminology.

Investigating Search Terms

This section contains a range of interdisciplinary resources for researching keywords and historical terms.

Database Search Tips

  • As you search through library databases, look for subjects, subject headings, index terms, categories, or author-supplied keywords. You can use these terms to improve your search based on how the database is structured. If the terms are hyperlinked, you can click on them to generate similar results.

Screenshot from EBSCO database showing Subject Heading links assigned to a resource.

  • Use Boolean Operators [AND, OR, NOT] and Modifiers [ "", *, ( ) ] to structure your search terms within a database to maximize your results.

Boolean Search Operators AND, OR, NOT

Historical Sources & Collections

Hand of a white man reading braille book

Image credit: "Library for the Blind, Braille Reading" via New York Public Library Digital Collections. 

More historical sources & collections coming soon!

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