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ENG L506: Introduction to Methods of Criticism and Research

A library research guide for the English L506 course

Choosing a Database

There are many databases, so how do you choose the right one? What if you have always use the same database and have been missing out on other resources? Here are 6 steps you can take to avoid #FOMO:

  1. Check which databases the librarian recommends on this guide; 
  2. Find out which databases are linked to from other subject guides related to your topic;
  3. Filter databases on the Databases A-Z list (link below);
  4. Explore the "about" section of the database to learn about its content or look for the public website about the database for more info (this is the one the vendors use to market the products to librarians);
  5. Ask your librarian or instructor; and 
  6. Find a list online of journals for your area of study and check which databases your favorite journals live in (using Ulrichsweb - link below).

Interdisciplinary Databases

Not sure what discipline covers your topic? Not finding enough information? Interdisciplinary databases contain articles from the sciences, social sciences, and arts & humanities. They are a great way to see who is talking about your topic and to expand your research.

Web of Science and SCOPUS, while interdisciplinary, are weighted towards science.

Literary Criticism in Databases

Gale Databases:

Finding discipline-specific databases

Databases that are specific to research in English Language and Literature can be found on the English subject guide. The link is below, but you can also find it by going to the library home page > Guides > Subject Guides. NOTE: The list on that guide is not comprehensive.

Additionally, you can find databases by going to the library home page and clicking on the Databases icon. This can be done in two ways: 

  1. If you know which database you want, select the letter that corresponds to the first letter of the database's name, then browse the list (or do a Ctrl+F search) for that name.
  2. Use the 'Subjects,' 'Database types,' or 'Vendors/Providers' dropdown menus to browse our subscriptions.

Also, You can do a site search in the main search box by choosing "Site" and typing in a keyword, like English or writers. The database results will be preceded by "Databases:" as shown below in the search results.

Screen shot of library webpage's site search feature

If you don't know which database to use, choosing the right database can take a little bit of research. Note that each database on our A-Z list has a description underneath that provides some information, usually provided by the vendor. To find out more about a database, try:

  1. An internet search. Often the publishers or vendors of databases will have a page online advertising their products to libraries and other institutions. Additionally, Wikipedia can be a source of information about databases. For example, check out the page on JSTOR. Notice the section on limitations. What implications does the information about the "moving wall" or embargo have for your research? 
  2. Look for an 'About' page within the database. Take the MLA International Bibliography for example. On the About page you can learn what other databases it shares content with, perhaps saving you time from duplicating searches in other places. But don't take my word for it, test it out yourself.
  3. Look for a list of journals or publications that are included in the database. For example, on the About page of Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA), you'll find a link called "View Title List." Clicking on this link will automatically download the latest spreadsheet of Serial titles (journals) that are in the database's content and will give you information about the level of coverage of each serial.

4 Methods to Find an Article's Full Text from a Citation

Forward and Backward Citation Searching. To expand your research, and do a thorough literature review, you should do a forward and backward citation search on really relevant articles. Backward = review the bibliography of the article. Forward = Search for the article title in Google Scholar and/or Web of Science to see who has cited the article since it was published.

Finding the Full-Text of an Article