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ENG 3060 - Introduction to Literary Study: Searching Tips

Use this guide to find scholarly articles in literary criticism.

Boolean Operators

Use Boolean Operators as a way to narrow or broaden your search:

AND: use to combine different concepts or keywords; each result will contain all search terms

Example: academic AND libraries

OR: use to connect similar concepts or keywords; each result will contain at least one of the search terms

Example: teaching OR education

NOT: use to exclude words or concepts; tells the database to ignore concepts implied by your search

Example: technology NOT database

Parentheses ( ): place around related terms to search for more than one group of keywords

Example: (teaching OR education) AND libraries

 Asterisk *: use at the end of a keyword to search words that start with the same letters

Example: education AND librar*

Quotation marks “ ”: place around phrases to search for words in that exact order

Example: academic libraries” AND teaching


When searching in the databases, simpler is usually better! Avoid using complete sentences - stick to key terms and ideas 

For best results, search using the author's name or title of a work and (criticism or analysis)


"Mary Shelley" and (criticism or analysis)

Frankenstein and (criticism or analysis)

You could also include a literary theory or term:


"Mary Shelley" and feminis* and (criticism or analysis)

Frankenstein and science and (criticism or analysis) 

Developing Your Topic

Finding the right level of research is an important first step. Consider whether your topic is too broad (you're getting too many results or they're not relevant enough to your topic) or too narrow (you're finding too few results). 

Use these handouts to help you narrow or broaden your topic and identify keywords:

Study Help: Plan Your Search - University of South Australia

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