Skip to Main Content

ENGL 203: Canadian Literature with Professor Drake: Home

Library Instruction Agenda

Here's a quick rundown of what we'll be working on in class today:

  1. Identifying scholarly sources, and differentiating them from non-scholarly sources.
  2. Locating and using appropriate library resources in order to find...
    • ...scholarly journal articles.
    • reviews from prominent periodicals (The New York Times, The Washington Post, etc.)
    • ...scholarly books.

My instruction and the related activities will take approximately 40 minutes of class time. You will then have the remaining time to begin your research using the methods I will outline. I will be available to answer any questions you might have about your research, so please take advantage of this opportunity.

Identifying Scholarly Sources

What exactly separates a scholarly source from a non-scholarly source? A scholarly source should fulfill all of the following criteria:

  1. It was written by a real, human author.
  2. The author is an expert in the discipline.
  3. It is written for an audience of other experts.
  4. It will contain in-text citations of some sort (footnotes, parenthetical, etc.).
  5. It will have have a list of all sources referenced.
  6. It should contain some sort of analysis.

There are always exceptions to every set of rules, but these are a good set of general guidelines to follow. If you are not sure if a specific source you have found would be considered scholarly, consult a librarian or your professor.

If you have performed library research before, you may have seen filters that allow you to limit your search results to only "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed" sources. These filters act as a good first-step to filtering out unwanted material, but they are nowhere near perfect.

Finding Scholarly Articles

Finding Book Reviews

If you are unable to find a sufficient amount of scholarly material on your work, you may find it beneficial to seek out book reviews to supplement your scholarly findings.

There are a number of publications that specialize in book reviews, but two in particular you should find helpful are New York Review of Books and Times Literary Supplement. There are also larger, popular publications that tend to publish many book reviews, such as The New York Times or The Washington Post.

To search for reviews, I recommend using ProQuest Research Library. ProQuest indexes a very large number of newspapers and other non-scholarly publications, making it a great source for book reviews.

To search for book reviews found in particular publications, you will want to structure your Advanced search as follows:


Once this is done, select “Review” from the “Document Type” filter and press search.

Finding Books

Need Additional Help?

If you still need research assistance after today's lesson, there are several ways to get in touch with a librarian.

Research Help:  Reference librarians are available on a drop-in basis Monday through Thursday, 12pm to 8pm on the main floor of the library. If you don't happen to know where their office is, just ask to see a reference librarian at the Service Desk and someone will walk you over. The full schedule of Research Help hours are available via the reference calendar.

Research Consultation:  If you would like to schedule an appointment with a librarian a couple days in advance, you can submit a research consultation request. This allows the librarian with the most subject knowledge to claim the request, and also gives the responding librarian some time to prepare for the meeting.


Profile Photo
Dan Ross

Database Tips

Quotation Marks:  When searching for a multi-word phrase, it's generally a good idea to enclose the phrase within a pair of quotation marks. This is especially true when searching for the titles of works. For example, when the phrase blind assassin is typed into a search bar, the database or search engine looks for the two words separately. The words might not be located near one another, and they might not even be in the right order. Searching for "blind assassin" ensures that the words are paired together and in the proper order. This function is recognized in virtually all academic databases and even most common search engines.

Asterisk:  This character is used to search for multiple forms of the same word simultaneously. Academic databases are very obtuse; they will search for your terms exactly. For example, if you were to search for the singular novel, the database will oftentimes omit any search result that discusses novels instead. In order to search for both at the same time, type out the letters shared by the words, and then place the asterisk where there is variance. Searching for novel* will return articles that use the singular or plural form of the word. Searching for the plural and singular forms of words simultaneously is the most common use of the asterisk, but there are other uses as well. For example, searching for dystopi* will return articles that use one or more of the words dystopia, dystopias, dystopian, or dystopic. The asterisk can be used in most major academic databases (EBSCO and ProQuest-based), but not all of them.