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Literary Research Paper - Lens  

Last Updated: Feb 1, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Resources Print Page


  • Gale Literary Resources - "Artemis"
    One cross-searchable database for the following individual literary databases: Literature Resource Center, Twayne's Author's Online, Literature Criticism Online (Contemporary Literary Criticism, Short Story Criticism).
  • Gale Virtual Reference Center (GVRL)
    Collection of encyclopedias and reference materials (ebooks).
    Archive of core scholarly journals from many disciplines.

Print Resources

  • Niles North Catalog
    Search for books available at Niles North. If you'd also like to check the catalog at Niles West, please make sure you change the location to "Niles Township HS District 219".
  • Skokie Public Library
    Use your SPL card to reserve items you find online.
  • Worldcat
    Search for resources in surrounding public and educational libraries.

Using Key Words

Why Key Words Matter

Despite all the advances in web and database searching, computers still don't do well with meaning.

When you type a word into a search box, the computer looks only for the word you typed, not the concept you had in mind. To you, that word is an idea. To the computer, that word is a bunch of letters. 

So, the burden is on you, the researcher, to choose the best keywords with which to search. The keywords you choose have a direct and measurable effect on the results you get back. Even a small change in your keywords can lead to a big change in results.

Generating Key Words

The first step in thinking of keywords is to define your topic. You can't research or write about a topic if you can't articulate what it is! Try writing your topic down as a sentence or a question.

Think of keywords to describe each concept involved in your topic. Think of more than one, in case your first choice does not work. Focus on synonyms and related terms. What are other ways to state your topic? Is there a specific word that will describe an abstract concept in your topic?

Keywords Searches

  • Search for: Records that have the search term anywhere within them.
  • Volume: Depending on the terms you use, searches may retrieve no results or thousands. Searches with general terms often return many results..
  • Relevance: Varies. Results may be completely unrelated to your topic. For example, a search for 'Philadelphia' returns records for every book published by the University of Pennsylvania Press (located in 'Philadelphia') regardless of whether the work is about Philadelphia.
  • Flexibility: High: Terms can be combined in complex ways to design effective searches.

    JSTOR Search Tips


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