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Intro to Academic Writing

Course Number: EN190

Subject: English


This guide accompanies an in-class workshop about doing research for your essay assignment.

If you have questions, please contact the English & Film Studies Librarian, Meredith (

OBJECTIVE: find academic sources about your topic and choose 2 good ones to work with in your essay.


1. What are Academic Sources?

  • Academic sources are where researchers share their work and engage with each others' ideas.
  • A defining feature of academic sources is that they go through a process called peer review.
  • Peer-reviewed articles and books have been assessed by experts in a research area.



Below is an example of a peer reviewed article called "The Political Subject is a Lover Not a Fighter."


2. How to Find Academic Sources

A. Where You Search Matters

  • Different search tools (e.g. Omni - the Library search tool, Google, etc.) are built to do different things. 
  • Good places to search for academic sources are:
  •  You can use a peer reviewed checkbox after your search to see only peer-reviewed articles.


Activity #1 (10 min.)

  1. Copy the following term: fight club
  2. Paste it into the tools below and hit search.
  3. Check off peer reviewed and answer these questions:
    • How many results did you get?
    • What are the dates of the first 3 results?


B. Search Tactics Improve Results

Try some of the search tactics below to get more relevant results.

What is the tactic?

What does the tactic do?


Phrase searching

Use β€œquotation marks” to find more than one term in a row.

"fight club"


Use an asterisk* at the end of a term to include multiple endings.


marx, marxism, marxist, marxists

Boolean AND

Use AND to ensure that all terms appear in every search result.

"fight club" AND palahniuk

Boolean OR

Use OR to ensure that at least one term appears in every search result.

violence OR brutality OR aggression


Activity #2 (10 min.)

Which 2 tactics might help you get better results for the fight club search?


3. Citing in MLA


Page Owner: Meredith Fischer

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Last Updated: March 1, 2024 11:26am