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English Language & Literature

A guide for English language and literature research at Purdue University Northwest Library

Select a Research Topic

  • Choose a topic that interests you
  • Read through background information
  • Write out your topic as a statement and select the main concepts
  • Start making a list of words to describe your topic

Having trouble deciding what to write about? Try looking at the links below to get some ideas:

Search Tips

Search tips for finding articles

Beginning your search: 

  • Use terms found in your background reading on the subject
  • Use the Thesaurus or Subject Terms listings, if available, in the databases you are searching
  • When you find a record for an item that is useful to you, look at its subject headings or descriptors for more ideas
  • Find appropriate Library of Congress Subject Headings if you are searching library catalogs and some databases

If you get too many results:

  • Consider narrowing down the search terms in an Abstract or even in the Title field
  • Try searching by Subject, rather than by Keyword (or by a combination of Subjects and Keywords or other fields)
  • Try phrase searching (usually by using " " around the phrase)
  • Use other limiters, if appropriate, such as a specific type of publication (Peer Reviewed, for example) or a specific time period

If your search does not yield enough results:

  • Check your search to see if you entered it and spelled it as you intended
  • Try other search terms and use OR between the terms to find items with any one of the terms
  • Look at the bibliographies of items that are closely related to your topic
  • Search in a different database or ask a reference librarian

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact the library at libref@pnw.edu.