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ENGL 101: Introduction to Fiction

This guide has been designed as a starting point for the research that you will need to to research for English 101. 

If you need help, please contact Ivana Niseteo, Liaison Librarian for English, French, French Programs (FASS), Humanities, Linguistics, and World Literature at 778.782.6838 or iniseteo@sfu.ca or Ask a librarian.

Using the Library Website

Key Points

Research Guides - Use these when you are not sure where to start! Librarians have put together comprehensive guides on every subject taught at SFU to assist students in their research.
Library Catalogue - Remember these steps: 1) Do a keyword search 2) Select a book from the list that appears to meet your needs 3) Use the subject headings for that book to find similar materials.
Journal Articles and Databases - This is where you go to find articles. Use the subject listings if you aren't sure which database to use.
Ask A Librarian - Librarians generally respond within 24 hours to email questions from students. You can also use our AskAway live chat assistance service.

Keep Track of Every Item You Consult

Most style guides require you to note the following: title of article, book or document, journal title (if article), author or editor, publisher (if book), date of publication, place of publication (if book), volume and issue number (if journal), pagination (if article or document). If you print out articles, highlight this information. Also, check the Citation & style guides page.

Using the Library Catalogue

Before searching the Library Catalogue or databases, think about your topic. Break down your topic into concepts or keywords. Think of synonyms for each keyword or concept.  Keep your mind open to new or alternative words that describe your topic.

Identifying search terms

To determine which terms you should use to search for books and articles, write down the proposed title of your project and identify the important/meaningful words, e.g.:

  • The significance of nature or wilderness in Margaret Atwood's short story "Death by Landscape."

     Use the key words and think of any variations, synonyms or related terms. (i.e. fiction, Canada, land, dearth, forest...)

Combining terms

The simple terms and and or allow you to combine terms to broaden or narrow your searches.

Narrow: combining with and requires ALL terms to be found in each search result (use this for finding two or more concepts in the same source), e.g.

  • atwood and wilderness

Broaden: combining with or requires ANY term to be found in each search result (use this for finding synonyms), e.g.

  • atwood and (wilderness or nature or north)

    * The asterix - the asterix is used for a word that may have several endings, e.g. crit* will find critical or criticism or critics.

Use the Library Catalogue to find books owned by SFU Library.

For works on a topic, search first by keyword. Here are some sample keyword searches:

  • nature and atwood
  • atwood and canad* and north

Remember your three steps: 1) Use keyword search 2) Select a book from the list that appears to meet your needs 3) Use the subject headings for that books to find similar materials. Subject headings are terms that have been assigned to each book. They are useful for locating books on the same subject regardless of the terminology used by the author. Using subject headings in your search can lead to more accurate results.

Using Databases

First, a few things to remember:

  • Use your keywords and the "and" and "or" commands. Start with your main point first and then add more terms one at a time (i.e. I would do a search on Margaret Atwood first then add terms such as wilderness or north). Remember to play! You can't break a database.
  • Academic Search Complete is a very good database to try. Use your keywords.
  • MLA International Bibliography is the best database for doing research on literary topic. All of the articles in this database are scholarly (or peer reviewed). If you do not get any results - try again with fewer words or a different word.
  • CBCA Complete is a good database for finding information on Canadian topics and writers.
  • News indexes are good for finding information on authors and books. Try other databases under News Sources such as Canadian Newsstream.
  • You may also want to explore JSTOR and Project MUSE.
  • Finally, can't find anything, don't know where to start, Contact the reference desk at 778-782-5735

Check out this list of databases in English literature.