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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Introduction to English Language Literature: Databases

UIUC Library

It can be difficult to determine how to access scholarship, let alone use the databases that can you direct you to it. On this page, you will find the databases and bibliographies most suitable for your research in literature and its allied fields.

Simply decide which database meets your needs. The tabbed box for each database walks you through each of the databases, how they work, and what you should do when you locate an item of interest.

For all other databases associated with English Literature, please visit A-Z Databases. Select the "Subject" most closely affiliated with your research or learning needs to discover relevant databases.

The MLA International Bibliography directs you to information about:

  • World literatures, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South Americas
  • Folklore and folk art
  • Linguistics
  • Literary theory and criticism
  • Dramatic arts
  • History of printing and publishing
  • Rhetoric and composition

Languages

The majority of citations indexed by MLA are in English. But at least seventy other languages represented, including French, Spanish, German, Russian, Japanese, Portuguese, Norwegian, and Turkish.

Dates of Coverage

The MLA contains citations from 1926 to the present.

Search the MLA International Bibliography

Before looking for articles and other scholarly materials, it is important to define terms that will help you get the best results. As you can see, you can input each of your search terms into its own search box. This enables you to use the database in order to find materials related to your search terms. The search depicted below will produce results related to "William Shakespeare" and "Comedy."

MLA Search Terms

Search Fields

As you can see, you have the option of selecting a specific search field for each of your search terms. For instance:

(TI) Title: search this field if you are looking for known-items or items with your search terms in their title (e.g. "'Action Is Eloquence': The Staging of Thomas Kyd's Spanish Tragedy")

(AU) Author: search this field if you are looking for items by a particular scholar (e.g. Greenblatt, Stephen)

(SK) Primary Subject Work: the title of the work you are interested in researching (e.g. "The Revenger's Tragedy")

(SA) Primary Subject Author: the author of the work you are interested in researching (e.g. Tournier, Cyril)

(SU) Subjects -- All: search this field for controlled-vocabulary words, names, or phrases that describes what the item is about (e.g. "revenge tragedy," staging)

Learn to Use Facets

Using the facets provided by the MLA International Bibliography's platform can help you refine your search. Below the "Search Field," the database enables you to limit your search results in a variety of ways. 

MLA Facets

Limits are tools that enable you to focus on certain types of materials for your search based on specific categories and characteristics.  Here are some of the most common ones you may use:

Exclude Dissertations: We strongly recommend that you check this box to exclude dissertations from your search: dissertations are tricky to use and best to leave out.

Limit by Publication Type: Use this to restrict your search to only one type of item such as Book, Book Article/Chapter, or Journal Article.

Limit by Language: Select "English" in this menu to limit your search to only English-language texts.

Limit by Peer Review: Check the box next to "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals" to search for only those items in scholarly journals.

Limit by Linked Full-Text: Check the box next to "Link Full-Text" to search for only items with full-text.

Limit by Publication Date: Type in the publication date limits for your search.

Examine Your Results

This search for "Shakespeare, William" and "Comedy" retrieved over 4,000 results. As you can see, this search limited results only to scholarly articles. It is important to analyze your results to make sure that the sources are indeed scholarly, to discover if you can access the full text, and to determine if you should refine your search terms to produce a more manageable number of results.

Results MLA

These results will include citation records for journal articles, books, and book chapters. Journal articles may  or may not be available in full text--if they are, then you will see HTML full-text and PDF full-text icons,  as seen in the above example. Citations for book chapters and books will not have full-text links, so to find them, click on the  button to search all Library holdings.

More Search Tips

Using the Thesaurus

MLA Thesaurus

  • At the top of the EBSCO interface, there are a variety of different tools. On the left, next to "New Search," is a link to MLA's thesaurus. Here you can search for Subject Terms used by the database. To begin, try entering words that might be related to your topic.
  • You can specify the type of search you want to do by clicking on the buttons next to "terms begin with," "terms contain," or "relevancy ranked."
  • Once you've clicked on a word or phrase, it will display Broader Terms, Narrower Terms, Related Terms, and Used For.

Using Subject Terms and General Subject Terms

  • First, check the thesaurus to discover what words MLA uses to describe what you're interested in. You can use these terms to find other items that have also been assigned those words as subjects.
  • If you're unable to find a heading in the thesaurus that matches your topic, try doing a keyword search. This will return many more results than a subject search, but not all will be related to what you're interested in.
  • When you find an item that looks relevant, look to see what Subject Terms have been assigned to it.
  • In addition to Subject Terms, MLA also breaks down each item into General Subject Terms. These include the subject literature, the period, the primary subject author, and the genre. In some cases, an item will have multiple sets of General Subject Terms, as in this example. You can use these General Subject terms in much the same way as the Subject Terms, to bring together all of the items that share that subject.

Get What You Need

Now that we have a list of results, it's time to analyze them and determine which articles or other forms of scholarship best match our research needs. After finding an article that appears to correspond with your research question, click on the link to the open the record for the particular article. In this instance, I selected the second article, "Twinship and Marriage in The Comedy of Errors."

MLA Record

Analyze the Record

Now that we discovered an article that could be interesting, we need to get a little more information. 

  • Who is the author and what are their credentials?
  • What is the name of the journal and how can you tell that it is scholarly?
  • Are there any additional search terms or keywords in the record that you could use to refine your research?

Full-Text Access

MLA is primary an index and contains only some full-text articles. If you need the full text of a citation that isn't available in the database, click on the Discover button icon to search all Library holdings for its location in another database and/or in the Library catalog. Doing so will enable you determine if you can access the full text of the article.

Discover Full Text MLA

You can access the article online by clicking on the link for "Project Muse Premium Collection." 

 

JSTOR provides access to more than 12 million academic journal articlesbooks, and primary sources in 75 disciplines.

We help you explore a wide range of scholarly content through a powerful research and teaching platform. We collaborate with the academic community to help libraries connect students and faculty to vital content while lowering costs and increasing shelf space, provide independent researchers with free and low-cost access to scholarship, and help publishers reach new audiences and preserve their content for future generations.

JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit organization that also includes Artstor, Ithaka S+R, and Portico.

JSTOR offers rather robust support. Please visit https://support.jstor.org/hc/en-us to learn more about how it can help you.

Search JSTOR

JSTOR

With JSTOR, it is important to put your search terms in quotations. This will help the database find material that is directly related to your inquiry and will limit the results to a more manageable number. Also, we suggest that you select the "Advanced Search" option, which you can find by clicking the "Advanced Search" link under the search bar on the JSTOR homepage.

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As you can see, we placed our search terms in quotation marks and can now "Submit Advanced Search." You can refine your search by selecting from any one of the facets that appear immediately below the Advanced Search field.

Learn to Use Facets

Using the facets provided by JSTOR platform can help you refine your search. Use the facets included below the "Refine Results" to limit your search results in a variety of ways.

Refine Results

As you should see, you can limit your results according to key terms within your results, academic content, publication date, as well as by subject.

Examine Your Results

This search for "Shakespeare, William" and "Comedy" retrieved many results. It is important to analyze your results to make sure that the sources are indeed scholarly, to discover if you can access the full text, and to determine if you should refine your search terms to produce a more manageable number of results. Let's look at some results to find an article that is related to our search.

Results

We notice that two articles. But in fact, only the first result is an article. The result titled "Books Received" is not a scholarly journal article, though it does include scholarship recently received by Theatre Journal and may therefore be of some use. "Methinks you are my glass": Looking for "The Comedy of Errors" in Performance is an article that we might want. You can download the PDF directly from the results list. Or, you can click on the link to open the item record and any attached material.

Get What You Need

Now that we have a list of results, it's time to analyze them and determine which articles or other forms of scholarship best match our research needs. After finding an article that appears to correspond with your research question, click on the link to the open the record for the particular article. 

JSTOR Analyze Results

As you can see, we can read the article in the JSTOR platform, download it as a PDF, and click on keywords associated with the article to discover additional scholarly material that may be of interest. 

Analyze the Record

Now that we discovered an article that could be interesting, we need to get a little more information. 

  • Who is the author and what are their credentials?
  • What is the name of the journal and how can you tell that it is scholarly?
  • Are there any additional search terms or keywords in the record that you could use to refine your research?

Project MUSE provides online access to full-text scholarly journals and books from university presses and scholarly societies. Over 700 journals from over 125 publishers are available, as well as over 60,000 books from over 100 publishers. 

Coverage includes: 

  • Literature and Criticism 
  • History
  • Visual and Performing Arts 
  • Cultural Studies
  • Political Science
  • Education
  • Gender Studies
  • Economics

Search Project Muse

To perform a basic search, type your search term(s) into the box on the homepage. 

 

You may also browse the various books, journals, and publishers available through Project MUSE. To do this, click on the Browse icon to the left of the search bar. It will bring you to a page that looks like this: 

 

You have several options to refine your search. You may either filter your results after a basic search or use an advanced search. In this case, we're going to use the advanced search function. To find the advanced search, click the menu on the right-hand side of the homepage and select "advanced search." 

The page will look like this: 

 

On the left-hand side, I can refine my search in several ways. For example, if I'm looking for articles on Emily Dickinson, I can choose to specify what,I want to see in my results. In this case, I'm looking for Emily Dickinson and poetry. Another important thing to note is the accessibility of content. 

You may further refine your search by language, research area, publication year, publisher, series, and journal. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I do a basic search of Emily Dickinson, I get a lot of results. 

 

 

To make the results more manageable, simply apply the filters on the left-hand side. In this case, let's say I'm looking for a journal article on Emily Dickinson's poetry. If I know the range of years I want articles from it even further refines my results. You may narrow or broaden your results as you please.

 

 

Get What You Need

After you've found the article, it's time to access it. To view the full text, simply click on the title of the result.

That will bring you to a page that looks like this:

 

You have several options for accessing the text. First, you may read the article online, as presented above. You may also download it as a PDF to save to your computer. Additionally, you can email it to yourself and even share it with other interested parties. 

ABELL provides access to over 800,000 monographs, periodical articles, critical editions of literary works, book reviews, and collections of essays that have been published globally from 1920 to the present. Additionally, unpublished doctoral dissertations are covered from the years 1920-1999. Most items in ABELL are in English. 

ABELL includes: 

  • English Language: syntax, phonology, and lexicology, among others
  • English Literature: poetry, prose, fiction, literary theory, and author studies 
  • Bibliography: manuscript studies, textual studies, and history of publishing
  • Culture of English-speaking world, including customs, beliefs, narratives, and songs
  • Periodicals from English and other disciplines, including history 
  • Book reviews

The easiest way to search ABELL is through keywords, title keywords, or by subject. You may refine or broaden the search as much as you'd like by adding additional keywords, authors, or subject matter. If you know specific details about what you're looking for, you may type those in as well. 

 

To refine your search, you may limit your results. This includes specifying a publication year (or range), the possibility of limiting your search to articles, books, reviews, or a combination of all three, and limiting by subject, keywords, and other details. For example, below I've searched for reviews of Pride and Prejudice, specifying that I want reviews specifically regarding Jane Austen's work.

 

As you can see, my search yielded 80 results. If I wanted to, I could go through those 80 entries and decide which ones I like, by creating a Marked List that I can save for future use.

 

Accessing content through ABELL is relatively simple. It's important to know, however, that ABELL does not provide full-text access. Instead, you must click the Discover Full Text button, which can be found below each entry. 

Clicking on Discover Full Text will open another window that looks like this: 

 

This page is how you will access the text you searched for. In this case, you can access the full text through JSTOR, Oxford University Press Journals, and I can see if the library holds any print copies. By clicking on either the JSTOR or Oxford University Press Journals icon, you can now access the document.

 

ABELL Results
 

Academic Search Ultimate

Academic Search Ultimate

Unequaled Coverage of Key Subject Areas

Academic Search Ultimate offers access to resources cited in key subject indexes.  The combination of academic journals, magazines, periodicals, reports, books and videos meets the needs of scholars in virtually every discipline ranging from astronomy, anthropology, biomedicine, engineering, health, law and literacy to mathematics, pharmacology, women’s studies, zoology and more.

Search Academic Search Ultimate

Before you begin searching ASU, it is a good idea to create an account. This will help you keep track of your searches, save important records, and organize your research more effectively. 

Sign In ASU

To sign in to ASU, simply click on the "Sign In" link on the top right hand side of the interface. Once you have created your account, it is time to start searching. Finally, select the "Choose Databases" link next to "Academic Search Complete." This link is just above the search fields. This will enable you to include other Ebsco hosted databases to expand your search. Read through the descriptions associated with each database and select the additional relevant databases.

Browse Databases Ebsco

Once you have selected any additional databases that you would like to include in your search, it is time to get to work. In this case, I selected the MLA International Bibliography. After selecting the additional databases that you would like to include in your search, you will return to the main search page. Scrolling down the page, you will notice a variety of fields that you can use to refine your search. Input the appropriate information to find the type of information that you need.New Search ASU

I performed a search, using the keywords, "Rankine, Claudia" and "Lyric Poetry." I now have the option to analyze and refine my results in greater detail. I did not limit my results. So this search represents a rather broad search.

ASU Results

Learn to Use Facets

Using the facets provided by the MLA International Bibliography's platform can help you refine your search. Below the "Search Field," the database enables you to limit your search results in a variety of ways. 

MLA Facets

Limits are tools that enable you to focus on certain types of materials for your search based on specific categories and characteristics.  Here are some of the most common ones you may use:

Exclude Dissertations: We strongly recommend that you check this box to exclude dissertations from your search: dissertations are tricky to use and best to leave out.

Limit by Publication Type: Use this to restrict your search to only one type of item such as Book, Book Article/Chapter, or Journal Article.

Limit by Language: Select "English" in this menu to limit your search to only English-language texts.

Limit by Peer Review: Check the box next to "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals" to search for only those items in scholarly journals.

Limit by Linked Full-Text: Check the box next to "Link Full-Text" to search for only items with full-text.

Limit by Publication Date: Type in the publication date limits for your search.

These facets also appear with a list of results.

The image below demonstrates how you can refine your results. Simply use the facets on the left side of your list of result to narrow down your results to more specific parameters. 

Facets ASU

Examine Your Results

Your results will include citation records for journal articles, books, and book chapters. Journal articles may or may not be available in full text--if they are, then you will see HTML full-text and PDF full-text icons,  as seen in the above example. Citations for book chapters and books will not have full-text links, so to find them, click on the  button to search all Library holdings.

ASU Results

The above image represents a search for "Rankine, Claudia" and "Lyric Poetry." Analyze your results to see what articles, books reviews, or other information sources best match your research interests or learning needs. Once you have determined what item you would like, click on the link associated with it. Below, you should notice a record for an item of interest. The article is "The Atlantic Ocean Breaking on Our Heads: Claudia Rankine, Robert Lowell, and the Whiteness of the Lyric Subject." This article corresponds with our search terms.

ASU Result 2

More Search Tips

Using the Thesaurus

MLA Thesaurus

  • At the top of the EBSCO interface, there are a variety of different tools. On the left, next to "New Search," is a link to MLA's thesaurus. Here you can search for Subject Terms used by the database. To begin, try entering words that might be related to your topic.
  • You can specify the type of search you want to do by clicking on the buttons next to "terms begin with," "terms contain," or "relevancy ranked."
  • Once you've clicked on a word or phrase, it will display Broader Terms, Narrower Terms, Related Terms, and Used For.

Using Subject Terms and General Subject Terms

  • First, check the thesaurus to discover what words MLA uses to describe what you're interested in. You can use these terms to find other items that have also been assigned those words as subjects.
  • If you're unable to find a heading in the thesaurus that matches your topic, try doing a keyword search. This will return many more results than a subject search, but not all will be related to what you're interested in.
  • When you find an item that looks relevant, look to see what Subject Terms have been assigned to it.
  • In addition to Subject Terms, MLA also breaks down each item into General Subject Terms. These include the subject literature, the period, the primary subject author, and the genre. In some cases, an item will have multiple sets of General Subject Terms, as in this example. You can use these General Subject terms in much the same way as the Subject Terms, to bring together all of the items that share that subject.

Get What You Need

Now that we have a list of results, it's time to analyze them and determine which articles or other forms of scholarship best match our research needs. After finding an article that appears to correspond with your research question, click on the link to the open the record for the particular article. The article is "The Atlantic Ocean Breaking on Our Heads: Claudia Rankine, Robert Lowell, and the Whiteness of the Lyric Subject." This article corresponds with our search terms.

ASU Result 2

Analyze the Record

Now that we discovered an article that could be interesting, we need to get a little more information. 

  • Who is the author and what are their credentials?
  • What is the name of the journal and how can you tell that it is scholarly?
  • Are there any additional search terms or keywords in the record that you could use to refine your research?

Full-Text Access

In the case of this item, we can access the full text by clicking on the "Linked Full Text" option. If you need the full text of a citation that isn't available in the database, click on the Discover button icon to search all Library holdings for its location in another database and/or in the Library catalog. Doing so will enable you determine if you can access the full text of the article.

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