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ENGL 126 Writing: Humanities ONLINE (Moreno): Find Scholarly Literary Criticism

This guide is for students enrolled in Michael Moreno's ONLINEnglish 126 Fall 2016

Find Scholarly Literary Criticism

Use a library database to search for and find scholarly articles.

  • Remember to limit your search to scholarly (peer-reviewed) journal articles.
  • Remember to try different keywords, subject terms, and multiple databases.
  • To find relevant and useful articles, you will need to consider many more.

Sample Search

This sample search in ProQuest Combined Databases used three different keyword phrases and was limited to Peer Reviewed articles, but it still was too broad and returned over 1,000 articles on all kinds of subjects.

If you are not sure what search terms to use, let the database help you! Use the Subject Terms suggested to Refine your Results. Add just one at a time. Or browse the Thesaurus (Subjects in Academic Search Complete) for relevant search terms.

See the illustrations below:

Academic Databases are "discovery tools." Use them to generate ideas, find search terms or narrow and focus research:

One Search

Use Holman Library One Search to search across our databases at once. 


  • Enter phrases in quotes. Ex: "leila aboulela"
  • Connect and focus ideas with AND. Ex" "leila aboulela" AND (identity OR place)
  • Search for related ideas with OR. Ex: (identity OR place)

Be sure to search for articles and books about:

  • Your author
  • Your text
  • Other works by your author
  • Works by other authors from the same country
  • Works by other authors who share an experience or identity, such as refugees, immigrants, and more.

One Search: Leila Aboulela AND (identity OR place)

To find scholarly peer reviewed articles use filters on the left on One Search to select: 

  • peer reviewed journals
  • include results with no online full text to request through interlibrary loan (free service. if we can get it, we will email you a digital copy)
  • this search excludes books of literary criticism, so try a search for books as well

Aboulela AND (place OR identity) peer reviewed journals not limited to full text


Full Text & ILL (InterLibrary Loan)

What should you do when you get this result?

Step 1: Click on "Check for Full Text in Other Sources." If we have the article in another database, you will be linked directly to it.

Step 2: If you get the message below, you may borrow it for free through InterLibrary Loan. Articles are sent quickly; just be sure to provide your student email address.

To fill out an InterLibrary Loan request, open the link below. Enter the information from the article citation above into the ILL form. Please contact a librarian if you need help at any point.

Finding Relevant Scholarly Articles

The databases to the left have scholarly and non-scholarly content in them.

You need to limit to scholarly/ peer reviewed content. Beneath each link, you'll find a tip on searching that specific database.


  • Use AND to add additional terms and narrow your search. Ex: memory AND place
  • Use OR to search for either/both A or B. This gets you more results and is useful for trying synonymous or alternate terms. Ex: (nation OR border OR identity)
  • Try adding the keyword "literature" or the subject term: "literary criticism" to a search, to focus your search on literary approaches to these questions.
  • You can search for information specifically on your text, but you will find many more relevant titles if you search more broadly. Look for analysis of other works by your author or of key concepts and then synthesize those ideas into your discussion. Ex: you will not find many scholarly articles on Xiaolu Guo in Holman Library databases. Try searching instead for scholarship on the issues she engages.
  • Use different keywords and research databases to find different articles and books.
  • Look for relevant subject terms to help you find articles that engage with your analysis. You will see Subject Terms under article titles, under Subjects as a limiter, or you can browse for Subjects in the Thesaurus or Subject Terms.
  • Peruse the works cited page of one relevant scholarly article to find leads to other sources. Track them down.
  • Do not use the first few resources you find. Be persistent and find articles and books that you can engage in your own analysis of the text


Thinking outside the box

What to do when you cannot find much written about your story or author

When you do research on current authors and works, sometimes there has not yet been a lot written about them. That's okay!

Scholarship represents your original thinking about a text or theme in literature. As part of your analysis you can integrate relevant sources, even if they are not about your specific text. Think about:

  • larger themes or issues, such as refugees, terrorism, identity, nation, or colonialism
  • other works by your author
  • analysis of the work of another author that you can apply to your interpretation of your short story or novel
  • a literary movement, genre or body of literature, such as Pakistani literature, Southeast Asian authors, literature of the diaspora

Here is an example of ideas and analysis about Minaret by Leila Aboulela that I could use if I were writing about the same ideas in a different work by a different author. 

Please click on the image below to enlarge it.

Abstract of analysis of Minaret by Aboulela. Highlighted sections indicate ideas i could apply to other works

Example: The highlighted sections of this article abstract (I would then read the whole article) might support an analysis of another novel or short story that explores how women navigate different spaces of religion, nation, and identity by claiming the veil as a symbol that both excludes them and allows them to define a new space…