Welcome! This page highlights tips and key resources for doing research in the English Senior Seminar: Utopias and Dystopias.
If you'd like to meet in person for additional help with your research, please use the link above to schedule a research consultation, or get in touch with your personal librarian directly. Barnard librarians are here for you!
Cover of Ursula Le Guin's novel The Dispossessed, via Flickr.
- Think of a question, or set of questions, that you're really curious about, that really compel you.
- Write down some keywords and phrases that come to mind. You can use these to search. Be open to the possibility of new keywords, and try out different combinations!
- Explore backgrounds and contexts. Reference sources can help you with concepts and terms, and they can also lead you to other relevant sources.
- Search for books and articles on your topic. Carefully skim each source---including the synopsis, abstract, table of contents, and/or index--- to assess how relevant and useful it will be to you.
- Cite the sources you find and want to use as soon as you can.
Consult a reference source to contextualize and define terms, and to get suggestions for further readings on topics that may be new to you. Reference sources can also give you ideas for search terms to use in your research!
Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism includes almost 300 entries and subentries on critics and theorists, critical schools and movements, and literary criticism and theory in specific regions of the world across history. You can browse or search articles in full text. Each article features a bibliography of works cited, organized into two sections: “Primary Sources” and “Secondary Sources.”
OED Online (The Oxford English Dictionary) provides an extensive historical record of the English language, with over 615,000 word forms with 139,900 pronunciations, 219,000 etymologies, and 2,436,600 quotations, along with timelines and a historical thesaurus. Use the thesaurus, in particular, to search for terms relevant to the time period you are researching.
Oxford Reference Online offers full text of 100 searchable reference tools, including subject-specific dictionaries and encyclopedias.
Finding Books and Other Materials at the Columbia Libraries
CLIO provides access to the vast resources of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and the Law Library. Search the Catalog for book and media materials.
- If you have a specific source in mind, use the dropdown menu to search by Title, Author, ISBN, etc.
- If you're searching around a topic, select Keyword from the drop-down menu and enter some search terms. tips: Use quotes to search words together "as a phrase." Use the * to truncate or stem search related words (for example, activis* searches activist, activists, activism, etc.)
If a title isn't available via Columbia University Libraries, you can request it via Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan.
Worldcat searches libraries worldwide, including public libraries like NYPL. Its a good place to start, to find records for materials you might want to request or visit NYPL to access.
Finding Scholarly Articles
For a more focused search, you can find a subject specific database using the CLIO Databases Search. Other examples:
- America, History and Life with full text covers scholarly literature on the histories of the United States and Canada. Its companion database, Historical Abstracts, covers world history (including Central and South American history) from 1450 to the present. They can be searched at once on the EBSCO platform.
- Black Studies Center describes itself as a “fully cross-searchable gateway to Black Studies.” The database combines Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, The HistoryMakers Videos and full transcripts for interviews with 100 contemporary African Americans, International Index to Black Periodicals (IIBP), historical black newspapers, Black Abolitionist Papers, and the Black Literature Index.
- Google Scholar is a freely accessible web search tool that collects citations (and, in some cases, links to full text) of scholarly sources across subject areas and publishing formats. It's a very broad search, but it can be especially useful for tracing who has cited a book or article that interests you.
- Handbook of Latin American Studies presents carefully annotated citations to scholarly articles, books, and other resources in Latin American Studies.
- HAPI Online features citations to articles and book reviews in scholarly journals published in Latin America and the Caribbean, or those dealing with topics relating to Latin America, the Caribbean and Latino/a Americans.
- Humanities Full Text brings full text (starting 1995) plus abstracts and bibliographic indexes (starting 1984) of noted scholarly sources in the humanities, as well as lesser known specialized magazines.
- JSTOR provides access to core journals in many scholarly fields, including History, Literature, Sociology, and Women's Studies, from the earliest issues to within a few years of current publication.
- MLA Bibliography indexes critical materials on literature, languages, linguistics, and folklore. Proved access to citations from worldwide publications, but not the full text article. If an e-link does not work, consider ordering the article via ILL or contact your personal librarian.
- Proquest Direct is a multidisciplinary database of magazines, newspapers, scholarly journals and dissertations, including the full text of the New York Times from 1851 to the present.
Citing Your Sources
- Citation management software allows you to manage your citations and save a lot of time! Most tools allow you to grab citations directly from CLIO, databases, and Google Scholar. Tip: While these tools can quickly generate bibliographies for you, double-check to make sure they're formatted the right way.
- Cite Source from Trinity College Libraries shows you how to cite books, articles, tweets, podcasts, art works, blog posts, and more in th efollowing styles: ACS, APA, APSA, ASA, Chicago, and MLA.
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab offers formatting and style guides for APA and MLA.
- The Craft of Research is an online book with advice on all stages of the research process.
- Evaluating Web Resources guide from Columbia University