Some Basic Literary Research Tips
English Literature Research Fall 2009 Search Tips
· For books, start with the library catalog. Remember to try broad searches; do not do a keyword search for:
identity and Shakespeare.
· When you get results that look good (if not perfect), don’t just write down the call number (but do write the call number down!) Click on the title of the record and look under either “Find similar items” or “Full record.” These will give you the subject terms, which you could then use in a new keyword search.
· For journal articles, begin with the MLA Bibliography. Now you can be more specific:
Fight Club and (identity or self)
but also try broader searches to see what’s available. Just as in the catalog, when you find good results, don’t just click through looking for the online (Find Text) or print (Search University of South Carolina Library Catalog )version of the article. Click on the title and look at the record of the article, and again you may find additional terms to use in your searches.
· Project Muse is another excellent database. When you perform an article search (advanced), scroll down and be selective in your choices under “Discipline.” When looking for:
identity and iliad
select both “classics” and “literature” from the Discipline drop-down menu. If you were looking for articles about
gender and glass menagerie
you would select three disciplines: “film, theatre, and performing arts,” “literature,” and “women’s studies.”
· JSTOR: Important!!!!! Use the Advanced search. Select from disciplines. Possibly even try to narrow down by requiring a word in the title; by default JSTOR searches the full text of articles, and since there are literary journals going back into the 1800s, the results can be overwhelming!
· Literature Resource Center is great for finding online biographies (look especially for the ones from the Dictionary of Literary Biography,) but the criticism section is mixed scholarly with general. Use with caution!
· Don’t forget to use truncation * to expand your search:
masculin* masculine, masculinity
critic* criticism, critical, critics
Quotation marks “” to keep phrases as phrases:
Tell me what you really think!
Thomas Cooper Library
University of South Carolina