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English 120 Communication Skills: Writing

A guide to library resources and research for ENG110, 120, and 122 students


This Research Guide is designed to help first year students use Iona University Libraries' resources to successfully complete projects and assignments for the English Communication Skills: Writing required course and includes important reference works, articles in databases, and journals. 

For information about course offerings, program faculty, and curriculum requirements, see the department's website.

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Find Your Course Reserves
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Choosing Research Materials

Searching for relevant articles and books for your research can feel quite challenging, particularly when you are working against a deadline. Searching is a process of trial and error, but a few research tricks will ease the searching process.

  1. Use the filters on the left side of the library catalog. A few useful examples:
    1. If you need a specific kind of material - like a book, article, or streaming movie - use the limiters in the "Looking for A" drop-down menu to limit results by kind of material
    2. If you need scholarly articles, check the "Peer Reviewed" box under the "Limit To" drop-down menu
    3. If you want to find the most up-to-date information, use the filters under the "Publication Year" drop-down menu. You can limit materials to the last 5, 10, and 25 years, or set up a custom year range.
  2. Use all available clues to understand if a resource is useful for your research, including citation information. If you are only planning to generally discuss a subtopic in your paper, it's important to develop an academic understanding of your topic, but you don't need to find the most academic-sounding paper on that subtopic. Instead, combine scholarly sources about the main focus of your paper with more general reference material about a subtopic.
  3. When you find an article that looks relevant to your research, read the abstract, introduction, and conclusion of the article. Do you understand what is being said? Can you reasonably work to understand the article with the time you have? If not, don't fret! When you write and do research in college, you are entering scholarly conversations with people who have incredibly specialized academic expertise - so learn from them, leverage their expertise, but don't let that potentially intimidating expertise stop you from developing your understanding of a topic. Use reference materials to bridge the gap between your informal understanding of a topic and sources that can help you develop a scholarly understanding of your topic.
  4. Using the same keywords and still not finding useful resources? See the Database Searching Tips section of this guide to broaden, narrow, or join your keywords using Boolean operators.
  5. Contact a Librarian for research assistance. We are happy to help you develop effective keywords and find relevant sources for your research.

For more information on the research process and developing effective keywords, see the Research Essentials research guide.

Start Your Research

Reference resources like encyclopedias or dictionaries provide a useful bridge from how you would describe a research interest in conversation with a friend to scholarly language. Though reference materials can feel too simplistic at times, they do help you develop your own scholarly vocabulary around a topic, allowing you to develop keywords for searching WorldCat and understand how some topics might overlap with other topics.

Some reference databases are listed below. For a full list, see the Reference Databases on the A-Z Databases page.

Databases for Articles

Interlibrary Loan

As a student at Iona University, you are often able to access materials from other libraries that we have lending agreements with using Interlibrary Loan.

If you are searching for a book and find the following box under Access Options:

Image of catalog search for "fast fashion" with a catalog record for a book

This means that the Iona University Libraries does not own the book, but you can request the book through Interlibrary Loan.

Click the "Request Item through Interlibrary Loan" button, and fill out all information with an asterisk next to the field.

Articles can take up to 5 business days to arrive in your email.

Books can take up to 10 business days to arrive at Ryan Library. When your book is available, you will receive an email from the Iona University Libraries' stating that your book is ready for pick-up behind the Research Desk at Ryan Library. The books will be in a bag with your name on it; feel free to ask a librarian to hand you the bag or pick up the bag yourself.

For more information about Interlibrary Loan - including information about due dates for Interlibrary Loan items - see the Interlibrary Loans page.

Accessing Public Library Collections in NY, NJ, and CT

Found a useful eBook not owned by the Iona University Libraries? For complicated copyright reasons, other libraries are unable to lend eBooks to outside researchers. Instead, use the public library resources available to you as a student in New York state or resident of your respective state.

See the Find eBooks page of the Research Essentials research guide for information about accessing public library collections.