ENGLISH R1B: Bad Writing
Contact your librarian
- Cody Hennesy
- Office Hours: By appointment
- Office Location: 212 Doe
- Contact Info:
About this Guide
A guide to library resources for L Mansouri's English R1B course.
This guide has been archived
This course guide was created during a previous semester, and is no longer being actively maintained. Here is a list of current course guides.
Doe Reading Room
north reading room, doe library, uc berkeley
Library catalog history
Keep in mind that when you are searching a library catalog:
- You are not searching the full-text of any books.
- You can not find articles in the library catalog.
The library catalog was originally a card catalog such as those pictured below.The online catalog still doesn't contain much more information on a specific book than these index cards did in the past. For this reason you need to be persistent when searching the online catalog. Many important keywords might not appear in the catalog record for a particular book, so make sure you try different synonyms if you don't find any good results at first.
Photo of card catalog from OSU Archives on Flickr.
Photo of card catalog index card by dfulmer on Flickr.
Searching Library Catalogs
It's often best to start your research by looking for books in the library catalogs. At Berkeley we have two different library catalogs. Oskicat is almost always the best place to start.
Use OskiCat to locate materials on the shelves of the UC Berkeley libraries and also to:
Use Melvyl to locate materials at other campuses in the UC system, or worldwide, and also to
- request materials from another library if we don't own it
- find articles from some article databases
- easily format a citation for copying into a bibliography
Melvyl will also show you the location and availablity of items that we own.
- Search for author's name using the author search, e.g., Smith, Zadie
- Combine topics using a keyword search, e.g., banned books and united states
- Use an asterisk as a wildcard, author* finds authority, authorship, etc.
- Limit results by language (Modify search)
- You can browse topics using the Subject links. To find secondary literature on a particular author, you can search for their name and look for "criticism and interpretation:"
- Use My Oskicat to view your library account and renew books
- Use the Request button to:
- page books in NRLF and
- recall books that are checked out
- Be persistent!
Getting Material from NRLF
A large part of the library's collection is stored off campus at the Northern Regional Library Facility [NRLF].
Use the REQUEST button in OskiCat to borrow material at the NRLF. To receive electronic or paper copies of book chapters or journal articles, submit an online request via the "Request an article from NRLF (photocopy or web delivery)" link that appears in eligible titles in OskiCat.
Log in to Request with your Calnet ID and fill out the screens. Choose the volume you want, for periodicals:
Scholarly Article databases
The following databases are recommended for finding academic articles related to literature. There are hundreds of other article databases on different topics available on the library website that you can browse by various subjects.
MLA International Bibliography
Indexes journal articles, series, monographs, dissertations, bibliographies, proceedings and other materials supporting critical scholarship on literature, language, linguistics, and folklore. Sponsored by the Modern Language Association.
Academic Search Complete
A multidisciplinary index to articles in more than 10,900 journals and other publications in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Portuguese; full-text is available for over 5300 journals.
Includes over 1000 scholarly journals with access to more than 2 million articles. JSTOR is an archive which means that current issues (generally the most recent 3-5 years) of the journals are not yet available.
Use the databases below to find book reviews and interviews from newspapers and popular magazines.
Alternative, radical, and independent magazines, newspapers, and journals in North America which report on politics and government, policy and culture, international issues, education, environment as well as reviews of theater, movies and books.
Book Review Digest Plus
Indexes book reviews of English-language fiction and nonfiction books for children and adults, from over 8000 leading magazines from the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. Includes several thousand full text reviews.
New York Review of Books
Online collection of reviews and essays from the New York Review of Books covering all areas of intellectual thought including science, philosophy, history, politics, and literature. Search the entire collection going back to 1963 or go directly to the current issue.
Includes New York Times (Historical with Index, 1851-2008, 1980-current), Los Angeles Times(Historical, 1881-1988, 1985-current), Wall Street Journal (Historical, 1889-1994, 1984-current).
Where's the PDF?
Once you've used an article database to find articles on your topic, you may need to use this button: in order to locate and read the full text of the article.
UC-eLinks will link you to the online full text of an article if UCB has paid for online access; otherwise, UC-eLinks will help you locate a print copy on the shelf in the library. If UCB doesn't own the article in print or online format, UC-eLinks can also help you order a copy from another library.
For more information, watch this video tutorial (about 4 min.)
You can also set up UC-eLinks to work with Google Scholar. For more information, watch this video tutorial (about 2 min.)
To use library databases from off campus you have to set up the proxy server: this changes your browser settings.
- Different browsers [Firefox, Chrome, Safari...] have different instructions- they are all here.
- You can set it up on multiple devices
- You log in with your CalNet ID
- There's an alternative: the VPN
The research process is part of the composition process. Don't be afraid to let your personal taste and inclinations guide the direction of your research. What are you interested in or passionate about? How can you find out more about those things? Many successful scholars research topics and documents which nobody had ever thought to explore, and tie them together with the strings of their own personal obsessions and thematic fixations.
It's also important, however, to Critically Analyze Information Sources (Cornell). Doing scholarly research (this is a paper for school, after all) requires different skills than those you've developed from years of online searching. Google and other search engines reward certain approaches that create false expectations and poor research results when you try to transfer those skills to library databases. Here are a few tips:
- Consider what kinds of sources you need. If you know you need peer-reviewed journal articles, where can you find those? In the same way that you wouldn't want to search in the MLA International Bibliography for local movie times, you probably don't want to search in Google for scholarly articles on literature.
- Slow down. There are often really great search features available at your fingertips, and you just have to resist the temptation to hit the Search button for 20 seconds to scan the search interface:
- Is there an advanced search page?
- Can you limit to peer-reviewed articles?
- Can you limit by the year published?
- Can you use any subject terms to get more relevant results?
- Iterative searching
- Learn from the search results
- Too many results? Too few?
- Look at citations from good sources
Cite your sources
Research Advisory Service
Research Advisory Service for Cal Undergraduates
Book a 30-minute appointment with a librarian who will help refine and focus research inquiries, identify useful online and print sources, and develop search strategies for humanities and social sciences topics (examples of research topics).
This service is for Cal undergraduates only. Graduate students and faculty should contact the library liaison to their department or program for specialized reference consultations.
Chat and email reference
Go to the research help page to have librarians answer your questions online:
- 24/7 Chat Reference
- Email Reference
- Phone Reference
- Library Liaisons (for in-depth, upper-level research)
- Oh, and there's always the reference desk too!
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