COM LIT R1B: Texts of the New Frontiers and Hinterlands

How to use this tab

This course guide is created as a teaching tool and designed to be read as a unit. Doing so will provide the context for selecting the "right" resource and the techniques for manipulating it -- knowledge and skills that will support immediate and future research needs.

The notes in this pulling it together tab contain suggestions about how to proceed with research based on your assignment. These suggestions build upon, and presume familiarity with, the general concepts addressed in the other tabbed sections of this course guide.

A research trajectory

  1. Choose a topic.

  2. Review the information in the Choosing a Resource tab.  Make sure you understand how the identified resources differ in the types of information and materials they provide.

  3. Review suggested resources section of this tab.

  4. Review tips for finding literary and film analysis in this tab (as needed)
    Review tips for finding historical background in this tab (as needed)

  5. Visit the library homepage and select a resource whose content matches the kind of materials you are seeking to find. 

    [If choosing a subject specific article database, consider which disciplines map to your topic (i.e. publications in that field are likely to be writing about your topic). Or... try a General, interdisciplinary, database.]

  6. Search to see what's been written about your topic  (or see what others are writing about to help refine your focus).
    • see search tips section of this tab (as needed)

  7. Examine promising results.
    • remember to note the information you'll need if you end up citing them

Suggested resources

OskiCat

  • to find books on your topic
  • to find periodicals you've already identified as having articles on your topic

Article databases (by SUBJECT)

  • to identify article and essay content on your topic
  • to identify current research
  • to identify research focused on a specific aspect of a topic
  • to search for publications from a specific discipline
    • literature, history, art history, Latin American Studies, etc.
  • MLA is a recommended database for literature
    • citation database; no full text
    • use UC-eLinks to locate results' text
    • tabbed setup lets you review results by type of publication

Article databases (GENERAL)

  • interdisciplinary
  • often have popular sources (magazine & news) as well scholarly
  • Academic Search Complete is one recommended resource
    • popular and scholarly content (good for popular culture topics; can limit to scholarly)
    • some results available online
    • has UC-eLinks feature
  • Google Scholar is one recommended resource
    • strength is scholarly journal literature
    • use UC-eLinks to get full text
    • you must enable UC-eLinks to display in Google Scholar [set via Options gear > Scholar Preferences > Library links]
  • JSTOR is one recommended database
    • scholarly journals
    • full text resource
    • use advanced search mode (to narrow to specific discipline. and/or limit your search)
  • Project Muse
    • humanities and social science content
    • full text resource
    • search contents or browse by defined areas of research focus

Subject Encyclopedias

  • background on topic | biographical information on practitioner in field
  • Link path  = Library homepage > Electronic Resources > Subjects A-Z > your subject > see left sidebar menu for links to types of resources for chosen subject

    ...Subjects A-Z > Literature > sidebar menu to encyclopedias >

        Literature Resource Center
    • good for brief biography of literary authors
    • use Person Search
    • in tabbed results see biographies
      (criticism tab included with some authors, but has very limited content)
Read more

Search Tips

  • search basics for library databases
    • added tip: you may wish to limit by language

  • defining a do-able topic (with examples - narrowing & broadening focus)

  • searching OskiCat

    • for materials about a topic...

      • search 2 or 3 terms representing key concepts of your focus
      • there isn't a search that finds everything: try different combinations of terms, synonyms, related terms
      • look at the records of relevant results -- do their subjects suggest other search terms?

        [important:  subject terms are defined by the Library of Congress, and not always what you would expect. Examine relevant results to discover how your topic, time period, location, people, etc. are defined subject-wise. Once you know this, you can use that terminology to search for other materials.]

      • sample keyword searches:

        hoarding
        obsessive-compulsive disorder
        compulsive behavior

        france and history and class
        elizabethan and society
        elizabethan* and custom*
        old norse sagas
        old norse literature and criticism
        august strindberg and criticism
        eugene o'neill and biography
        gender and encyclopedias

      • try adding terms for specific types of materials (encyclopedias, biographies) to your search, to locate those types of resources

    • author search

      for a person...finds books by, interviews with, correspondence...
      [ use correct search syntax:   last name, first name
      example: andersson, theodore
      ]

    • limit by language - use modify search button
    • limit by material type - change default search of Entire Collection
      to seach by type -- Journals/Magazines/Newspapers, Films/Videos...
    • search too broad ?   Use the Modify button to access search limits.
Read more

Extra tips for finding literary and film analysis

  • Using an appropriate article database is a must for identifying articles or chapters on a topic:

    • Very specific searches (specific focus about a specific character in a specific work) may not net the desired results. It's worth trying for a direct bullseye, but you may need to adjust your aim.

    • Search for analysis about the book, play, film, etc., being written about.  You'll see what others are focusing on.  You may find they use other terms for your focus that can be searched and increase your result pool.

    • Search for analysis about the author/director of the book, play, film being written about.  Your focus may be a thematic/technical element that shows up repeatedly in their work.  Materials that focus on authorial or directorial/filmic concerns may include information about your work, or be relevant to your analysis of it.

  • When using the library catalog, try adding the term criticism to searches for materials about an author, literary movement, or time period (see catalog search tips for examples).

  • In addition to looking for articles, if books have been written about your work, examining the table of contents and indexes of promising titles may help isolate chapters of relevance.

    hint: when an author is well known and been written about for a long  time, you may find many article database results focus upon your author's influence on later works of literature. When this is the case, and, if it is not what you want, books may provide a way to find literary analysis focused more directly on your author & their work.

  • If the overall goal is to find analysis of an author's ideas and influence, and he/she is a philosopher, theologian, psychologist, visual artist -- or a subject of inquiry in a discipline besides literature -- you may also wish to explore recommended databases for the associated subject area. 

    note: whether this approach is helpful, depends on your needs and the kind of analysis you seek -- an article on Camus in a philosophy journal will generally use a different lens to examine his work than the one used by a literary journal. 

Extra tips for finding historical background

  • Not already knowldegeable about the time period, social or cultural background?  Consider starting with an encyclopedia entry.
  • Articles tend to focus on specific aspects of a specific topic. If you are looking for a broad overview of a historical time or social situation, books might be the ticket:

    • their table of contents and indexes will help you isolate the parts of interest to you
    • OskiCat will help you locate books at UCB

  • Some article databases contain results for chapters in books and/or books in addition to articles (America:History & Life and Historical Abstracts are two such examples).

    America: History and life
    (US, Canadian history)  and Historical Abstracts (rest of the world) are recomended databases for the subject of history

    • can limit to results that focus on a specific historical time period
    • can refine search to specific types of publications
    • can limit by language
    • use UC-eLinks to locate result text
Last Update: May 30, 2012 10:54