First-Year English: The Americas

The Americas

Manuel Vega. Un Sabado en la Ciento Diez. Tile mural. 1996. New York City Transit, 110th Street 6 train.

The Americas

Instructor: Kristi Cassaro

Welcome! This page supports research for First Year English: Legacy of the Mediterranean. For tools and techniques on the texts for this class, consult the English Department Guide.

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.

Charlotte Price
108 LeFrak Center


Beginning researchFinding background informationSearching for booksSearching for scholarly articles | Citations | More

Beginning the research process

  1. Choose a topic! Try and pick something that genuinely interests you, something you want to know more about
  2. Take your topic and look at the keywords - use these to do searching, as opposed to plugging the full question into a database
  3. Find some background information on your topic
  4. Search for books and videos on your topic. Skim, read, and evaluate - put books back that aren't useful.
  5. Search for more specific articles. Skim, read, and evaluate - discard articles that don't look useful.
  6. Document your sources as you go along - this will make the paper-writing process much easier!

Finding background information

  • Using reference sources like encyclopedias can be a great way to find overviews (these can also be cited in your paper). There's a list of reference sources for your class at this link. A lot of these are available online through CLIO.
  • Using Google and Wikipedia can be helpful, too! In Google, you can get a sense of keywords and concepts, and try the Google Advanced Search for more options like searching within one domain (like .gov or .edu sites only). In Wikipedia, check the references list on an entry to trace the source, and find citable information.

Searching for books and media in Barnard & the Columbia Libraries

  • CLIO (our online library catalog) searches all the resources in the Columbia Libraries, including Barnard Library and Union Theological Seminary, but excluding Teachers College and the Law Library. The catalog portion of CLIO searches for books and media.
  • Know what you're looking for? Use the dropdown menu to search by Title, Author, ISBN, etc.
  • Not sure what you need? Use a general keyword search with "quotes for a phrase," and * for truncation (this lets you find all varieties of a word, so feminis* would pull up feminism, feminist, feminists, etc.
  • Book you need checked out? Request it from another library via Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan (ILL)
  • Search WorldCat to find books in libraries worldwide. Use Borrow Direct or ILL again!

How to find a Barnard book @ Butler Library from IMATS @ Barnard on Vimeo.

Searching for scholarly articles in databases

Barnard and Columbia have access to hundreds of electronic databases. Search for links to the databases through CLIO or take a look at the subject specific research guides for guidance to the best databases for each subject. Here are some that might be particularly useful for this course:

  • Find Articles searches multiple databases at the same time
  • Academic Search Complete from EBSCOhost is a comprehensive scholarly, multi-disciplinary, full-text database. In addition to full text, this database offers indexing and abstracts for thousands of journals and other publications including monographs, reports, conference proceedings, etc.
  • Gender Studies Database brings together scholarly sources in the studies of women, gender, and sexuality. Source documents include professional journals, conference papers, books, book chapters, government reports, discussion and working papers, theses & dissertations and other sources.
  • Humanities Full Text is an extensive database of articles and citations from scholarly journals in the Humanities. Has full-text for articles from 1995 onward, and abstracts and indexes from 1984.
  • JSTOR has full-text of all kinds of key journals in a variety of fields, but excels especially in literature, history, sociology, women's studies, and religion. Articles range from the earliest issues (even as far back ast the 1800s!) up to 2010.
  • MLA International Bibliography is an index of critical articles on literature,languages, linguistics, and folkore. Coverage is from 1923 to present. This database doesn't have full-text articles in it, but use e-link to find them in other databases, or ILL them from another library.
  • Historical Abstracts covers the history of the world (excluding the United States and Canada) from 1450 to the present, including world history, military history, women's history, and history of education. 
  • ProQuest is a multidisciplinary database of magazines, newspapers (including alternative and ethnic presses), dissertations, and scholarly articles.

Documenting your sources: Cite it!

  • Citation management software does just that - manages your citations for you. Most let you import citations directly from databases, CLIO, and Google Scholar. All can generate bibliographies for you in a variety of styles, though you should still double-check to make sure it's all right!
  • Cite Source from Trinity College Libraries shows you how to cite all kinds of things, from books to tweets, Google Maps to live performances, websites to government documents, and more. Featuring styles of ACS, APA, APSA, ASA, Chicago, and MLA.
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) has a ton of details on citation styles, research, and even example formatted papers.

Even more


Please submit feedback about your library session with Charlotte! Your response is anonymous.