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This guide gives you tips and resources for research papers in English and related literature topics.

Use Databases to Find Articles

Scholarly Journals

Articles in scholarly journals are particularly important to academic research. They:

  • report original research in a specific discipline
  • use in-text citations and bibliographies
  • typically contain peer-reviewed articles

  Look for options in databases to limit results to articles in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals.

More About MLA

Photo: Old Textures by Tom Woodward

MLA International Bibliography   

1. Take advantage of folders and the ability to export citations in MLA format 

2. Set search limits before you begin searching 

3. Try using Names as Subjects and add terms from critical vocabulary

4. Further refine your search by adding Subject Terms

5. Get citation help at 

Contemporary Reception Articles from 19th Century & Early 20th Century Periodicals


Title page of The Athenaeum, 1846, a British literary journal. The Athenaeum is searchable thru the British Periodicals database. Photo from The Library of Congress


Photo: Silent and Still by Jessica Neuwerth

Search Tips


  1. Experiment with synonyms and related terms
  2. Use an asterisk to stand in for different word endings (critic* = criticism, critical, critic, etc.)
  3. Use quotation marks to "glue together" a phrase ("stream of consciousness")
  4. Use AND between terms to narrow results to items containing both terms (Didion AND place)
  5. Use OR between items (within parenthesis) to widen results to items containing any one term (death OR dying)


Find one good item? Look at its item record to see if there are Subject Terms. These group material by together by topic which can yield more precise results.

Searching by subject in CBBcat can lead to a further list of sub-divisions. These can be helpful in focusing your research.


To find items by authors, do an Author Search (last name, first name).

To find items about authors, do a Subject Search (last name, first name).


Keyword Search: "author's name" AND critic*" (Natalia Ginzburg AND critic*)

Subject Search: "author's last name, first name" (eg. Woolf, Virginia)
Look for the sub-division: Criticism and interpretation

Following a Citation Trail

Check the works cited, notes, references and bibliographies of every relevant article or book. You may discover a book or article perfect for your topic.

sample citations

Hafley, James Robert, 1928 - The Glass Roof: Virigina Woolf as a Novelist. Berkely: University fo California Press, 1954. (link to bibliography)

One good source can lead to another!

Look for a Cited Work using:

  • OneSearch (articles)
  • CBBcat (books, media available through Colby)
  • MaineCat (books, media available from other Maine academic and public libraries)
  • Hathi Trust (sometimes has full-text digital versions of older books or articles)
  • WorldCat (if can't find resource locally)


Searches multiple resources at once.

Use for very precise searches:

  • Finding a specific article
  • Finding book chapters on a topic
  • Narrow, interdisciplinary subjects

For best results, use limiters:  field drop-downs (Title, Publication Title), content type (articles, book chapters, book reviews), etc.

For topical searches, first consult CBBcat and individual databases.

Find Books

SEARCH our library catalog 

Is a book scholarly? Look at the publisher, author, bibliography/references, writing style and examine the arguments presented. Who is the intended audience?

Books in Miller Library? Look at the call number. Most literary works are on the bottom floors (S1 & S2) of the Miller bookstacks.

Books at the Colby Storage Facility, Bates or Bowdoin? To order click
Enter your name and bar code number (omit beginning and ending letters) from your Student ID or Library Card.

Not finding what you want in CBBcat?

Look for the MaineCat icon in CBBcat results to expand your search across the state. 

Not there either? Go to WorldCat and order through ILLiad, our interlibrary loan service.

Reference Sources

Reference sources can provide definitions, terminology, facts, background information, context, biographies, interpretations, and bibliographies.

Book 8, by Brenda Clark, at

Ask for Help!

For questions big or small, we're happy to meet with you.


Karen Gillum

Miller 107


Laine Thielstrom

Miller 107C

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