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ENGL 1301/1302: Research Starter Guide

What is a database & Why use one?

1. What is a database? 

Think of a database like an electronic filing cabinet that has a variety of resources - academic, scholarly, popular, professional, film, media, and more.

2. Why should I use a database?

The articles in a database have been curated by professionals in the field of study you're researching (e.g. English Literature or Biology).  This takes much of the guesswork out of deciding whether or not the article you're using is related to your subject. However, this does not mean that all resources are suitable for your assignment - you must make that decision yourself.

3. When should I use a database?

When you have a subject-specific topic (e.g. "What does Bronte say about revenge and its manifestations in Wuthering Heights?") instead of something broader (e.g. "Wuthering Heights") - which often occurs in the beginning of your research process, when you're not entirely sure what you're going to say, and you're just looking to see if something is of interest.

The hardest part is knowing what you're looking for - that is when developing a solid research question and related search terms (keywords) becomes important.

Magazines vs Journals

There are typically three categories for "periodicals" or "magazines":

  • Popular Magazines
  • Trade or Professional Publications
  • Scholarly or Academic Publications

Popular magazines usually only have internal editorial control over what is published. Quality control for this type of publisher is usually based on how well the publication sells. On the other hand, quality control for the publishing of an academic journal is based on it's acceptance by experts or specialists.

Subject Databases

The databases most closely associated to literature are listed under the English database page.

 Screen shot of Articles & More tab with English highlighted.

Best Bet Databases for Literature-Specific Searches

Turn to these databases you have begun forming your thesis statement - or when Engine Orange isn't giving you all of what you hoped for:




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