English 2100 Writing About Literature: The “Wicked City”
Some research tricks
- Clarify what information you need and where to start looking for it.
- Express your topic as questions and think about what information you need to answer them.
- Think about where these types of information are typically published.
- Identify which databases or reference tools cover these publications.
- Need help? Ask a librarian.
- Databases don’t understand English, but just match shapes. Use these tips for better searching.
- Use a variety of words: city, urban, metropolitan.
- Use truncation to find word variants: urban* finds urban, urbanite, urbane, urbanity.
- Use broad, narrow, and roughly synonymous terms: city, Chicago, The Loop
- Look for subject headings or descriptors in the database. These organize data by topic.
- Put OR between words to get more results: city or urban.
- Put AND between words to narrow your results: Dreiser and (city or urban or Chicago).
- Search authors with surname first for more precision: Dreiser, Theodore.
- The Gale Virtual Reference Library provides specialized online encyclopedias for background information.
- LION Reference includes a selection of literary reference works such as The Encyclopedia of the Novel.
Use these databases to identify articles on your topic:
- LION: Literature Online is the main database for literary research.
- Choose Criticism & Reference from the sidebar.
- Choose Criticism to search both the MLA International Bibliography and ABELL, the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature.
- Choose Reference to search a variety of literary encyclopedias and handbooks.
- Choose Web Sites for a select collection of links.
- America: History and Life is the main datbase for the study of American history.
- Academic Search Premier indexes the main scholarly journals in all subjects and general news and opinion magazines. It’s updated more frequently than the more specialized databases, but covers fewer publications.
- JSTOR and Project Muse are collections of electronic journals. Other databases link to content in these collections, but you can go directly to each collection to search the full text of the articles.
Click on to locate a copy of the article.
This will link to online full text of the article, if it’s available. If no online version is available, it will link to the MERLIN catalog to see if we have a print copy. If no print copy is available, it will link to the https://ill.mul.missouri.edu/, which allows you to order a free copy by email. We’ll find a library that has a copy and have them scan it and send it to you.
If you’re not in a database, or the link does not appear, look in the sidebar of any library webpage under Search Tools for “Find a Specific Article/Journal”.
- The MERLIN catalog shows materials in the MU Libraries.
Follow these steps to locate a book in the MU Libraries.
- The MOBIUS catalog shows materials from Missouri academic libraries.
- WorldCat shows materials from many libraries worldwide.
You may request delivery of books from MU branch libraries and non-MU libraries by using the Request links in the catalogs. MOBIUS books usually arrive in a couple of business days. WorldCat books may take a week to get here. Only books may be requested through MERLIN and MOBIUS, but films and recordings may be requested through WorldCat.