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ENGL 494: English Honours Research and Methods Seminar

This guide has been designed as a starting point for the research that you will need to research for English 494.

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.

The Library website - a few pointers!

  • Research and writing guides - It's a good place to start with any subject you are researching. You may want to explore other subjects guides if your topic is cross-disciplinary.
  • Library Catalogue - Remember these steps three easy steps 1) Search by Keyword 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. Try using Advanced Search.
  • Article indexes and databases - Access databases by subject if you aren't sure which database to use. You may want to explore the databases for Communications or Women's Studies depending on your topic. Explore!
  • SFU Library style guides - This page is very helpful and contains our new and improved style guides as well as pointers on citing and writing.You may want to consult the MLA guide from the Library's homepage at some point.
  • Request items from other libraries: Don't hesitate to use this if the SFU Library does not have an item you need. It generally takes 3-14 days for an item to arrive.

Getting what you need from the Library Catalogue

Use the Library Catalogue to find books owned by SFU Library. You may also want to use the Advanced Search as you can practice more targeted searches.

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. Create search strings that can either broaden (using OR) or narrow (using AND) your topic.

Here is an example of a search string using BOOLEAN operators (AND and OR) to get the best results. My topic is

  • Subjectivity in Shakespeare's Sonnets

Use the underlined words and think of any variations, synonyms or related terms. (e.g. subjectivity, self, subject, difference, poetry)

Combining terms

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

  • Broaden: combining with or requires ANY term to be found in each search result (use this for finding synonyms), e.g.
    • subject* or self or difference
  • 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.
    • Shakespeare and sonnet* and (subject* or self or difference)

Remember your three 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 books to find similar materials. Subject headings are terms that have been assigned to each book. They are extremely 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 but it's almost always easier to start with keyword searching first. For example:

If you click on this subject heading you will find other books that have critical information on this topic.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. -- Criticism and interpretation.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. -- Poetic works.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Sonnets.

Sonnets, English -- History and criticism.

Subjectivity in literature.

Point of view (Literature)

Databases: MLA, JSTOR, Google Scholar, etc.

Every database is slightly different, you improve as a researcher each time you go outside of your safety zone. For example you may want to try databases in other subject. Look at the databases by subject area in the Journal articles and databases and see if there might be something that is helpful for your paper. Also remember not to limit yourself to only fulltext databases, most of the databases at SFU will give you the option to find the article either in print in the Library or in another electronic database. Click on "Get@SFU"

Please note that if an article is not available at SFU you can get it through Interlibrary Loans.

  • MLA is the primary source for English Literature research. All articles in this database are scholarly.
  • CBCA Complete is a good database for finding information on Canadian writers. If you are having trouble finding information contact your Librarian as finding information on Canadian writers can be challenging.
  • JSTOR Note that this database defaults to a basic search. There is also an advanced search option to the right of the basic box. I would suggest using this or if you are building long search strings it may be helpful to use the expert search. Note that JSTOR has a 2-5 year embargo on its articles so not the database to use if you are looking for the latest and most current information.
  • You may want to try Google Scholar but remember to access it through the Library homepage to get best results.

A few more hints and tips:

You may want to consult News Sources for up-to-date information on your topic, such as book reviews, interest articles, productions etc.