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A guide to assist in library research for English and Film Studies classes

Getting Started

Think about what you are trying to research in English. Are you interested in learning about Beat poetry? Do you want to learn about depictions of women in Southern Gothic Literature? Or are you interested in the literary scene around the Nuyorican Poets Cafe? Deciding on your research topic will give you a jumping-off point to dig deeper.

For more information about finding your research topic, see Choosing a Research Topic in our Research Essentials Guide.

Once you have your research topic, it's time to dive into the literature. Determine some keywords that describe the most important concepts for your topic, and use those keywords to search for articles, books, or other materials that cover your topic. 

Using Boolean operators along with your keywords, such as AND or OR, can also help you refine your search. 

To learn about finding sources for your topic, see Finding Books and Articles in our Research Essentials Guide.

As you find materials to help you in your research, you may start to find that you are drifting away from your original research topic. That's okay! This can be a great chance to refine your topic.

For example, if you start out researching Shakespeare, but wind up becoming more interested in writing about contemporary movies based on Shakespeare plays as you read, that can turn into a great opportunity to pursue a topic that interests you more. Alternatively, if you look for materials on your topic and have a hard time finding much research on it, that might be a sign that you can fill a gap in the field's knowledge by collecting your own research.

At this point it is also a great idea to sit back and reflect. Always remember to evaluate your sources, and reach out if you need help.