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English 380: Departmental Seminar

Research Guide for ENGL 380 Departmental Seminar

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Using Reference Sources

Consider reference sources when you are just getting started with your research on a poem or author. Think along the lines of Wikipedia- you want a source that will give you a quick overview of the poem or poet, something you can read relatively quickly and get pertinent facts or broad ideas concerning the work that you can use as you go on with your research. The “W” source I mention above (henceforth will not be named!) isn’t bad, but there are other, equally easy to use resources that can produce better results.  Scholars versions of Wikipedia, if you will.

One such online source is a collection of reference books published by Oxford University Press called Oxford Reference Online



Using the “quick search” box in this resource and searching for “Coleridge, Samuel Taylor”, you will be presented with several entries from sources like the Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature, which will give you a concise, one or two page overview of the poet, and is particularly useful for the “alternatives” and “contexts” portion of your exercise- for example, telling you which other poets or authors Coleridge is usually linked with. You’ll also notice two very useful facts about this entry:

  1. the entry has an author (unlike an entry in a group-edited online reference work like Wikipedia)
  2. the entry has a bibliography. You can use this bibliography to find the rest of the works you’ll need to complete your assignment, all done by going to a single online reference source. The bibliography items each have a FIND button next to them- click on it and it will tell you which OhioLink libraries (including KSL) have the book.

Reference Works

Here are more examples of useful reference sources, both online and in print.

Using the catalog and OhioLINK

In addition to using the bibliographies that you find while searching reference sources, you can also search our catalog and the OhioLINK catalog directly.

Remember that you can do a SUBJECT HEADING search for the name of the author to find books ABOUT that author.

Also, as you do keyword searches on your topic, note the subject headings listed in the item records.  For example, useful subject headings might include:

Human Body in Literature

Identity (philosophical concept) in literature

Motherhood in literature

Violence in literature


Also remember to BROADEN your search by exploring the OhioLink Central Catalog- you have access to over 45 million books via OhioLink.  You can search the OhioLink Central Catalog directly, or by using the "Search OhioLink" button  that appears at the top of each page in our catalog.

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