General and Biographical Reference Works
The reference collection contains many works that will provide quick information on English and American literature. These can be very broad or very specific in nature: an encyclopedia on American literature or an encyclopedia on Mark Twain. Browsing the collection can often be very useful: Call number 808.08 for general literature; 820 for English literature; 810 for American literature.
To find a single work or a collection BY an author, first try searching by the AUTHOR’S last name. If that doesn't work, try searching by KEYWORD or TITLE:
- Austen, Jane author search to browse a list of all works by an author
- Sense and Sensibility title search
To find works ABOUT an author, such as general criticism, criticism of a specific work, or biographies, search the author's name as a SUBJECT.
- Austen, Jane 1775-1817 subject search to browse a list of all works about an author
- Austen, Jane 1775-1817 - Criticism and Interpretation subject search for general criticism about an author
- Austen, Jane 1775-1817 - Sense and Sensibility subject search for criticism about a particular work
In addition to books, the library has many online databases that are helpful when you are getting started. They are listed below under Databases
Discover articles and books from many of our databases.
The single most important database for research in literature is the MLA (Modern Language Assn) International Bibliography, which indexes scholarly articles, books, book chapters, dissertations, and conference papers that focus on literary research.
How do I know It's a Scholarly Journal?
Some of the following characteristics are found in most scholarly journals. As you examine the publication, ask yourself the following questions:
Is the word "journal" or "review" in the title of the periodical?
Is the publication published or sponsored by a professional scholarly society or association? (Hint: Examine the inside cover or first few pages of the journal.
How frequently is the publication published? (journals tend to be published monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually rather than weekly)
Is there a list of reviewers (editorial board) on the inside cover or title page?
Are individual articles organized into at least two of the following sections?
- Introduction or Literature Review
- Theory or Background
Does the article have a bibliography or list of references to identify what sources were used to write the article?
Does the title of the article reflect its content (is it fairly detailed?)?
Is there an abstract at the beginning of the article?
Who wrote the article? Are the author's credentials listed? (Hint: Often this information on the first or last page of the article. If not, check at the beginning or the end of the publication for a list of all the authors and their credentials). Journal articles are usually written by college and university professors or scholars from research institutes or associations.
Is the article based on either original research or authorities in the field? (as opposed to personal opinion)
Are there supporting diagrams or illustrations with the article.
How long is the article? (journal articles tend to be longer than a popular magazine article, sometimes as long as 20-30 pages!)
If you answered "yes" to most of these questions, then it probably is a scholarly journal!
Citing your sources