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Extended essays - a research resources guide for English undergraduates: Search strategies

Subjects: English

Search tips

It is worth keeping a good record of the searching that you do and the results that you find when using online resources.

You will find that many of the databases you use (such as the MLA Bibliography and LION) will let you save searches and email results to yourself. Check the help section of any resource you use to see what might be possible.

  • Brainstorm
  • Make a list of key words and concepts
  • Write a list of search terms, using extended and refined terms and apply these to each resource
  • Remember to use synonyms e.g. “literary criticism” and “literary theory”
  • Use Boolean search terms (AND, OR, NOT) to refine your search e.g. “literary theory AND criticism”
  • Write a list of possible resources and search them systematically
  • Make a note of the search terms used to find relevant results


Evaluating online resources

The Internet, of course, also has some excellent free resources. But how can you evaluate whether or not the resources you find when you search independently are good enough for your studies?

Internet for English is an excellent self-guided online tutorial, especially for students of English, or, take a look at The Internet Detective

There are several useful guides to evaluating information on the Internet produced by other universities, take a look at this guide from John Hopkins University: Evaluating information found on the Internet