Familiarize yourself with the topic
- Do some preliminary reading before deciding on your topic or narrowing it down
- Read the introductions to books on you topic
- Acquire background information from one of Laurier’s online reference books. Click on Oxford Reference: Literature for the online Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature
- Formulate a research question in order to focus your ideas about the topic. Please see our video tutorial on developing an effective research question
- Write down the different concepts used in this question (“feminism” AND “literature” AND “canada”)
- For each concept, think of similar terms that you might also use (“literature” OR “fiction”)
- TIP: Find additional clues for terms in the titles and abstracts of books and articles
- Locating the right combination of keywords takes time. You will need to go back and forth, revising the terms as you examine your search results
- View our video tutorial on using keywords effectively
- Search Laurier’s Primo library catalogue for books on your topic. The default search is both books and articles so choose the “books” tab if you want to eliminate articles
- You can start with broad keywords (e.g. “canadian literature”) and then narrow down your results by clicking on one of the “refine your results” links on the left-hand side of the screen
- For example, you can click on the subtopic “women”
- You can also limit your results to the Brantford campus and/or books published within a specific time frame (e.g. the last 2 years)
- TIP: For additional books on a topic, click on the title of a book that looks pertinent, and then click on the subject link(s) for that book
- TIP: Are the books on your topic checked out? You can always use an e-book
- TIP: You can also order a book or a photocopy of an article from another library. You can learn more in our video tutorial on requesting materials from other libraries. It will be sent to the Brantford Public Library at no cost and you will be notified by email when it arrives
- Laurier's eBooks are just as scholarly as our print books
- They are available 24/7 from anywhere with an Internet connection
- Some of our ebooks can be downloaded and read on mobile devices (but not on the Kindle). If a book is downloadable, it will have a download link
- View a video tutorial on finding eBooks
- A good place to start is the library catalogue. Choose the “articles” tab
- There are also databases for every field; databases list articles on topics within these fields
- For articles on English Literature, go to: Laurier Library > Databases > “By subject” > English
- The following databases list articles on your essay topics:
- To find scholarly articles, look for the “peer-reviewed” option in the databases. (What is a peer-reviewed article?)
- Do you already know the title of the article you want? Watch a video tutorial on how to find an article when you know the title
Too many search results?
- If you get too many search results, use narrower search terms (e.g. “poetry” instead of “literature”)
- Try adding more concepts to your search (“poetry” AND “feminism” AND “margaret atwood”). Adding more terms that are linked by “AND” will decrease your number of search results
Too few search results?
- Think in terms of broader categories (“literature” rather than “poetry”)
- Add alternate terms for each concept (“women” OR “woman” OR “gender”). Adding more terms that are linked by “OR” will increase your number of search results
- TIP: Look at the bibliographies of the most pertinent books and articles on your topic. One author can lead you to others in the field
Need assistance with writing the paper?
- For personal essay guidance, make an appointment with Laurier Brantford’s Centre for Student Success
Create the bibliography
- Visit our help page on citing sources for links to APA, MLA, and other style guides
- See our short video tutorials on when to cite and how to cite
Need help with research?
- Don’t hesitate to contact me (Pauline Dewan); I am here to help you. For additional information, see my contact page.
- Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call me at 519 756-8228 ext. 5529
- Drop in for help or make an appointment. My office is in the Digital Library and Learning Commons, on the lower level of Grand River Hall, room 108B
- Instant message a Laurier librarian for help by clicking on “Ask Us” (from the homepage of the Laurier Library)
Please note: The Library is committed to providing programs, events and services that are accessible to all. Please contact us if you require accommodation due to a disability.