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Information Resources for English 5000



Welcome to the APSU Library!  Below is information that you will find useful for English 5000. The following information is intended to assist you in determining what your information needs are,  finding the information you need, and evaluating the information you find. Links to various library services are provided throughout this document.  You will need to follow each link to find out about that particular resource or service. Through the Ask A Librarian service, you can request assistance via email, chat, or telephone. You also have access to a librarian via telephone (221-7346 or 1-800-250-1890), via email, or in person by coming to the Library.

Information Needs

The first question you need to ask yourself is "What types of information do I need for my research project or paper?"  You have access to many types and formats of information through the APSU Library.  You may have done library "research" for other classes you have taken at APSU or other schools.  You probably had to find a certain number of articles, books, and/or web resources for your paper or project. Much of your previous research was probably done in conjunction with writing a paper that was intended to inform or analyze a particular topic.  Your research for this class will be much more intensive and include research involving literary analysis, criticism and interpretation .  Your professor will inform you as to the specific types of resources he or she expects you to use for your project.  So, how and where do you find the information you need?  The APSU Library is the place to start.

What does APSU Library have available?

A good way to think of the APSU Library is as an information portal.  The Library's website is a bridge to vast amounts of information both inside and outside APSU.  Use the Library's website to find out what is available ( The Library owns or provides access to a wide variety of materials.  Austin is the Library's online catalog.  It lists items that are available both physically in the Library and items that you have access to through the Library.  You can check Austin to see if the Library owns a particular book (either in print or in electronic format), a journal title (not a specific article), videos, selected government publications, websites and other materials. The Library subscribes to a number of general and specialized databases that provide you with bibliographic citations to resources, and in some cases the full-text of the resource.  Subject pages (arranged by discipline) have been developed so that many of the information resources for a particular discipline are grouped together in one place.  Now that we have determined that the place to look for information is the Library, we need to find out how we find the needed information.

Searching for information

You will find the following search protocols useful when searching for any kind of information.

  • Start with a specific topic.  Broaden or narrow it as necessary.  In literary research you typically begin your research by searching for an author or literary work.  

  • Use Boolean operators (AND, OR)  to help construct your search strategy.  Boolean operators assist you in combining search concepts and defining your searches. The AND operator narrows your search. The OR operator broadens your search. The NOT operator excludes information from your search. Examples:   Shakespeare AND Women  would retrieve resources containing information about both Shakespeare and Women. Argumentation OR Rhetoric would retrieve information about either topic. 

  • Limit by format and material type when searching databases.  Many databases allow you limit your searches by material type and format such as journal articles, refereed publications, research, literature reviews, and many others.  Check in each database you use to see how to limit by publication type and format.

  • Use the references at the end of an article or book chapter to find other resources.  The references used by someone else in their research are extremely valuable to you.  By consulting those resources, you may find information that you may not have known about and that will improve your research.  

  • Check subject terms assigned to an article to see if there are more accurate or specific terms for your topic.  Whenever you search a catalog or database, always look at the subject terms that have been assigned to the resource.  You may find a better or more accurate subject term for your topic and improve your research.

  • If you are having trouble finding information about your topic, think of other terms to describe your topic.  Example: another way to describe rhetoric might be persuasion

  • If the database or index you are searching uses a controlled vocabulary or thesaurus, use it!  Your search will be much more accurate than if you use keywords.  By using the thesaurus in a database, you are using the language used by the indexers and abstractors.  Note: For new concepts or buzz words, you may have to use keyword searching because the new terms may not have made it into the controlled vocabulary of the discipline.  Also, if you are having no luck using the thesaurus in particular database, you may want to perform a keyword search and check the subject headings or descriptors used for a relevant article.


Databases index a variety of information including articles, book chapters, book reviews, letters, retractions, editorials, and others.  Some databases you will use contain only bibliographic citations, some include an abstract, and others include the full text of a resource.  I will describe some of the subject databases you will use in your research for this class in the next section.

Databases are produced by many different vendors and each vendor has their own search software.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were a uniform search platform?  The search protocols that I mention in the previous section will help you to search each database effectively regardless of the vendor.

Many database vendors provide abstracts for many of the publications they index.  Be sure to read them carefully.  They can save you a lot time.  An article may seem to be perfect from the title, but may discuss something irrelevant to your topic.  The abstract helps you determine if the publication is meaningful to your research topic. The abstract is NO substitution for consulting the complete article or study.

Consult the specific databases listed below to determine which one or ones you need to use for your research topic.  You may need to consult the list of all databases to decide if there are other databases that will assist in your research.

As an APSU student you have access to databases available through the APSU Library both on campus and off-campus via remote access.  Consult the Remote Access to APSU Databases guide for assistance.

Specific Databases

Literature Resource Center (LRC) is a comprehensive literature reference database. LRC contains biographical, bibliographical, and critical content, much of it full-text.  LRC is an important resource for information on literary figures from all time periods writing in such genres as fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, history, journalism, and more. 

MLA Bibliography, created by the Modern Language Association of America, is the fundamental research tool for languages and literature. The database indexes international scholarly material in over 4,000 journals and series on modern language, literature, linguistics, and folklore. Covering 1963 to the present, it includes 1.3 million citations (no abstracts) to journal articles, books, conference proceedings, films, sound recordings, microforms, and machine-readable materials.

JSTOR provides full-text access to back issues of selected academic journals in the following areas:  African American Studies, Anthropology, Asian Studies, Ecology, Economics, Education, Finance, History, Languages & Literature, Mathematics, Philosophy, Political Science, Population Studies, Sociology, and Statistics.  JSTOR does not include current journal issues.

Project MUSE includes current issues of nearly 200 quality journal titles from some 30 scholarly publishers, covering the fields of literature and criticism, history, the visual and performing arts, cultural studies, education, political science, gender studies, economics, and many others. Links to back issues from JSTOR are available for some titles.  These direct links only work from on-campus (access JSTOR from the Jump to Database box if off-campus).

Dissertations and Theses offers access to more than 90 percent of the doctoral dissertations accepted each year in North America. The database also covers thousands of dissertations and theses from around the globe. Each dissertation published since July 1980 includes a 350-word abstract written by the author. Master's theses published since 1988 include 150-word abstracts. Bibliographic citations are available for dissertations dating from 1861, and more than 55,000 new citations are added to the database every year. Over 1.7 million dissertations and theses are available from the UMI vaults on microfilm or in hardcopy, and researchers can preview many recent documents electronically through the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database, which lets users see the first 24 pages of thousands of documents online. (Digital dissertations are archived as submitted by the degree-granting institution. Some will be Native PDF, some PDF Image).

Be sure to consult the Literature Resources subject page for many more specific literature databases.

Does the APSU Library have the periodical I need? 

The easiest way to determine if the APSU Library has the journal you need is to search Austin ((Library Catalog)) by title.  If you have identified an article in a periodical database or index, and the complete article is not available from that database, check to see if the needed periodical is available by searching Austin.  All Periodicals (both electronic and print or microfilm) are now listed in Austin (Library Catalog).

Evaluation of Information

Material that you find in Austin has been selected for the APSU Library by librarians and subject faculty using formal selection criteria and professional reviews.  Resources indexed in subject databases have met certain criteria set forth by the database publishers such as subjects covered, publication type, and others. You will have to evaluate this information further to determine if it is appropriate for your research purposes. There are various criteria to assist you in evaluating materials for your research project. Here are some links that will help you to evaluate journal articles and books.

How to Evaluate Journal Articles

How to Evaluate Books


I'm sure that most of you are aware that there is some very good information, some very bad information and much in between available on the Internet.  How do you tell which is which?  As with all information that you examine for your research, you must evaluate its usefulness and relevance to your particular project. You must ask yourself questions such as who is responsible for this website?  Are they an expert in the field? Is this information relevant to my research?  Is sponsor of this website a commercial entity or an educational institution or an organization or what?  Is the information current?  Can the information be verified in other sources?  Here are a several links that will help you to evaluate websites.  

How to Evaluate a Web Page

Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages

Evaluating Web Sites

Interlibrary Loan

You may need some resources for your project that the Library does not own.  If that is the case, you need to use the Library's interlibrary loan service (ILL).  The APSU Library uses ILLiad, a web-based interlibrary loan system. We can borrow materials that you need from other libraries worldwide.  Just fill out the online ILLiad form and submit it electronically. One of the best features of the ILLiad system is that it will "populate" the ILL request form for you when you request an article while searching in a database. The most important thing to remember about ILL is to plan ahead!  While we have the technology to receive articles via the internet and send them to you via email, we still use regular (snail) mail for books and other resources.  Not all libraries that we borrow from have the technology to send articles via the internet and still use regular mail.  Plan ahead.

Citing Sources

Once you select the sources to use in your research project or paper, you will need to put them in some type of order and format.  You will use MLA format to document the resources used in your paper/research project.  There is an online style guide for Citing Sources in MLA Format that you will find helpful.  Not every type of resource is covered by this guide.  You may need to refer to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th edition, for resources not covered by the Library's guide.  There are two copies of the MLA Handbook (Ref LB 2369 .G53 2003) in the Library, one at the Information Desk and one on reserve.

RefWorks is bibliographic management software that allows you to import references from online databases, organize your references into folders according to your topics of interest or various assignments, insert references from a variety of formats (MLA and APA) into the body of a research paper, and generate formatted references pages.  RefWorks is free for all  APSU students, faculty and staff.  It is available from any computer with internet access.  Click on this link RefWorks for information about using the service and links to helpful tutorials.


There is help available to you in a variety of ways.  The Ask A Librarian service provides help via email, chat or via telephone. You may also contact me personally (see contact information below).  Please don't spend hours looking for something and get frustrated.  Ask for help.  That's why the Library is here.  


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Last Updated: 24-Jun-2013 | Questions or comments to