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ENGL 105: Introduction to Issues in Literature and Culture

This guide has been designed as a starting point for your research for English 105. 

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.

Searching the SFU Library catalogue

Library Search

There are a few ways to search the library's catalogue including Library Search and the Catalogue Search. Navigate to the SFU Library homepage to begin your search.

Library search is a good place to start getting to know your topic. Note that Library Search it is extremely broad and very hard to narrow, as it searches the full text of an item for all the words you enter. 

To use it, simply type in a keyword or set of keywords from your topic and click search. The screen you will see is as below.

Note that it has organized your results by media type (books, journal articles, etc.) To view all items in that type, click "See all results" that can be found at the bottom of each column.

Note that in the columns along the left hand side you can narrow by content type, including to book reviews. You can also limit your results to only scholarly reviewed articles.

Searching MLA International Bibliography

As mentioned, you may want to go directly to a database once you have your topic selected. MLA International Bibliography is an excellent database to begin with. It is the easiest to use and most comprehensive source of "gold standard articles."

A word of caution, as it is "international" there is some content that is not in English, and "comprehensive" can include dissertations and sources not held by the SFU library.

Type in your search keywords into the keyword search box at the top of the screen.

Pay attention in the search results screen for different options to narrow your results. Here, you can exclude dissertations and include only peer reviewed items. Remember, if the linked full-text isn't below the item, click on "Where can I get this?" to see if we have it elsewhere online.


How to find book reviews

How to find book reviews using SFU databases

Many databases you would search to find journal articles also contain book reviews. Try typing in a few words from the title of the book and and book review.

Scholarly vs. popular sources

A common way to evaluate a journal article is to check whether it has been peer reviewed. A journal is refereed or peer reviewed if its articles have been evaluated by experts before publication. Each article is usually reviewed by several anonymous experts to ensure the scholarship is solid. For more information, visit What is a scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journal?

Some points to consider when evaluating an article:

  • Authority - Who wrote the article? What are their credentials? Are they affiliated with a university?
  • Accuracy - Is this page part of an edited or peer-reviewed publication? Can factual information be verified through footnotes or bibliographies to other credible sources? Are the citations from a variety of sources?
  • Objectivity - What point of view does the author represent?  Information is rarely neutral, so it is important to consider the point of view of the author and possible bias.  Is the information presented factually and completely cited?
  • Currency - How current is the article? Is there more recent and relevant research on the topic out there?
  • Purpose - Why was the author writing the article - to share information with other scholars or to sell magazine issues?
  • Audience - Was the article intended for scholars or the general public?

Many databases have an option to limit to peer reviewed or scholarly articles on the main search page (usually it is a box that you need to check mark).

Visit Finding and Evaluating Resources for more information.

Also, always remember to cite your sources: MLA Citation Guide.