You are here

ENGL 104W: Introduction to Prose Genres

This guide has been designed as a starting point for the research that you will need to to research for English 369.

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 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.

Student Learning Commons
You can make individual appointments with peer counselors to assist you with essay writing.

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

  • Silent Spring: Rachel Carson's launch of environmental literature
  • Silent Spring: Feminism and Environmentalism

Use the highlighted words and think of any variations, synonyms or related terms (e.g.: Environmental: environment, conservation, preservation).

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.

  • "silent spring and carson " less specific
  • "silent spring and carson and enviro*" very specific - may get fewer results

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

  • silent spring and (environmental or conservation or preservation)

    * 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 these keyword searches in the Library Catalogue to find books on your topic.

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.

Here are some examples of subject headings that may be useful for this topic:

Environmental literature.

Environmentalism -- Social aspects.

Nature -- Effect of human beings on.

Carson, Rachel, 1907-1964. Silent spring.

Using the databases

There a number of journal article and citation databases specific to English Literature.
Note that not all databases are created equal. Databases may provide you with full text articles, or only citations, or both. If the full text of the article is not available, most databases at SFU will give you the option to find the article either in print in the Library or in another electronic database.

First, A few things to remember:

  • Remember to use your keywords and the "and" and "or" commands. They are very useful for the databases as well. You can often use the same search you constructed for the Library Catalogue in a database.
  • Academic Search Premier 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.
  • News indexes are very good for finding information on authors and books and also recent articles on the environment. Try other databases under News Sources such as Canadian Newsstream.
  • Check for email options in each database.

Check out this list of databases in English literature.