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*ENGLISH Research Guide: Start Here!

This guide gives you tips and resources for research papers and other information gathering projects.

Find Articles

Scholarly Journals

  • 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 IB Database

Photo: Old Textures by Tom Woodward, 2008, via flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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

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


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.

old document with writing with a treeSilent and Still by Jessica Neuwerth (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) via Flickr

Search Tips


Databases and catalogs may only find the exact combination of letters entered.

  1. Try a VARIETY OF SEARCH TERMS, synonyms and word combinations
  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)


Keyword searches are not looking for meaning and thus can miss important works in a field. Look at Subject Terms in item records to find items grouped by topic.

In CBBcat, subject sub-divisions can be helpful in focusing your research.


Use the drop-down menus to choose type of search.

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" (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 another 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)
  • Google Scholar (also check Cited By" in Google Scholar)
  • 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)

MLA Citation Help

Older editions of the MLA handbook are also available. Many databases still use the 7th edition.  OWL uses the 8th edition. Note the differences! Be consistent.

MLA 7th Edition: Falk, Cynthia G. "'The Intolerable Ugliness Of New York': Architecture And Society In Edith Wharton's The Age Of Innocence." American Studies 42.2 (2001): 19-43. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 19 Jan. 2017.

MLA 8th Edition: Falk, Cynthia G. "'The Intolerable Ugliness Of New York': Architecture And Society In Edith Wharton's The Age Of Innocence." American Studies, vol. 42, no. 2, 2001, pp. 19-43. EBSCO, Accessed 19 Jan. 2017.

MLA 9th Edition: Due for release April 2021. OWL Purdue and our collection should be updated by Fall 2021.

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.



Karen Gillum

Humanities Librarian

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