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Literature Research Overview LRC@TCC

Literary terms

Anthologies/Collections-copies of the literary work either in full or part, some include commentaries, analyses, or criticisms.

Bibliographies-lists of books or periodical citations referring to the author.

Biographies-accounts of the life of the author and influences on their work.

Book Reviews-published summaries and comparative analyses of works of literature.

Criticisms-critical, evaluative or comparative statements about a literary work.

Key concepts

Do you want a copy of the work by an author? Use a library catalog and do an author search using your author's name.

Do you want information about an author, such as biographical information? Use a library catalog and/or database and do a subject or keyword search using your author's name.

Do you want information about the work of an author? Use a library catalog and/or database and do a keyword search using your author's name and a key word from the title of the work.

What gender is your author, male or female?

What genre are you researching? Drama, poetry, short stories? Religious? Historical?

What nationality is your author? American, British, African-American? Asian?

During what time period did your author write? Classical Greek or Roman, Medieval, Nineteenth Century, Contemporary?

The process

Work from general resources such as subject encyclopedias (Reference books in call number P or a database) to specific resources (journal articles in library databases).

Browse the bookshelves in areas where you find books on your topic. In a database, note the subject assigned to the article you find to find others.

Use both general literature and biographical reference books or databases to gather background information.

Use databases for articles and essays from reference works and journals.


Ask for assistance! Try Ask a Librarian.

Read the "how to use" page of a reference book or the "help" button in a database.

In a multi-volume set of reference books, use the index volume.

Write down every piece of information you find, you'll need it for your citation. This includes the name of the database you use and the date you used it.

Print what you need when you find it, you may not be able to find it again.

Use the library's interlibrary loan service to borrow materials from another library.

There are many online resources available, use our literature subject guide.