Introduction to research methods in literary studies
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Introduction to Research Methods in Literary Studies. ENGLISH 1201. Today’s class. Primary and Secondary Sources Scholarly and non-scholarly Sources Most common secondary sources in Literary Studies How to Find Secondary Sources Keyword Selection (interactive exercise).

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Introduction to research methods in literary studies

Introduction to Research Methods in Literary Studies

ENGLISH 1201


Today s class

Today’s class

  • Primary and Secondary Sources

  • Scholarly and non-scholarly Sources

  • Most common secondary sources in Literary Studies

  • How to Find Secondary Sources

  • Keyword Selection (interactive exercise)


Primary sources

Primary Sources

  • A primary source provides first-hand information on the topic. The author or artist personally participated in the event under discussion, such as a science experiment, a humanitarian mission, or the creation of a work of art. The work has not been changed or analyzed by another person or organization.


Examples of primary sources

Examples of Primary Sources:

  • Original research (results of an experiment, an archeological dig)

  • Government Records (Parliamentary Proceedings, Bills, Acts)

  • Personal works (diaries, letters)

  • Works of Art (paintings, sculptures, photographs)


Secondary sources

Secondary Sources

  • Secondary sources present an argument, interpretation, conclusion, or summary based upon information found in primary sources.


Examples of secondary sources

Examples of Secondary Sources:

  • A biography

  • A review (of a book, film)

  • Commentary and criticism (of a work of music or a work of art)

  • Histories


In literary studies

In Literary Studies

  • Examples of primary sources?


In literary studies1

In Literary Studies

  • Examples of primary sources?

    …A novel, short story, play, poem


In literary studies2

In Literary Studies

  • Examples of primary sources?

    …A novel, short story, play, poem

  • Examples of secondary sources?


In literary studies3

In Literary Studies

  • Examples of primary sources?

    …A novel, short story, play, poem

  • Examples of secondary sources?

    …A book review…A book or journal article abouta novel, short story, play or poem

    Source for previous 8 slides (and for more information and examples):

    Primary and Secondary Resources: A Research Guide, http://www.mta.ca/library/primary_secondary.html


Scholarly vs non scholarly secondary sources

Scholarly vs. Non-scholarlySecondary Sources

  • Not every book or article about a literary work is necessarily a scholarly source.

  • An article about Margaret Atwood published in The Globe and Mail or Macleans magazine, for example, would not be considered a scholarly source.

  • Why not?


What is a scholarly source

What is a Scholarly Source?

  • Are generally written by experts in the field (look for: credentials, author affiliations)


What is a scholarly source1

What is a Scholarly Source?

  • Are generally written by experts in the field (look for: credentials, author affiliations)

  • Are generally peer-reviewed (critically assessed by other scholars and experts in the field prior to publication)


What is a scholarly source2

What is a Scholarly Source?

  • Are generally written by experts in the field (look for: credentials, author affiliations)

  • Are generally peer-reviewed (critically assessed by other scholars and experts in the field prior to publication)

  • Engage and build on previous research on the same subject (see next bullet)


What is a scholarly source3

What is a Scholarly Source?

  • Are generally written by experts in the field (look for: credentials, author affiliations)

  • Are generally peer-reviewed (critically assessed by other scholars and experts in the field prior to publication)

  • Engage and build on previous research on the same subject (see next bullet)

  • Always cite all sources quoted or referenced in the book or paper (articles and books aimed at a non-academic audience don’t normally do this)


What is a scholarly source4

What is a Scholarly Source?

  • Are generally published by a university press or publisher specializing in scholarly works


What is a scholarly source5

What is a Scholarly Source?

  • Are generally published by a university press or publisher specializing in scholarly works

  • Make a contribution to the field (present an original argument or interpretation)


What about book reviews

What about book reviews?

  • Scholarly or non-Scholarly?


What about book reviews1

What about book reviews?

  • Scholarly or non-Scholarly?

  • Book reviews typically present one person’s opinion about a newly published book. Book reviews do not normally engage with (or cite) existing scholarship on an author or attempt to present an argument or interpretation.


Most common secondary sources in literary studies

Most Common Secondary sources in Literary Studies?

  • Books and journal articles (articles published in academic, peer-reviewed journals)


Most common secondary sources in literary studies1

Most Common Secondary sources in Literary Studies?

  • Books and journal articles (articles published in academic, peer-reviewed journals)

    Examples:

    Nischik, Reingard M. Engendering Genre: The Works of Margaret Atwood. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2009.

    Deery, June. “Science for Feminists: Margaret Atwood’s Body of Knowledge.” Twentieth Century Literature 43.4 (1997): 470–86.


How to find secondary sources

How to Find Secondary Sources

Books:

  • MtA Library Catalogue

  • Other Library Catalogues

  • WorldCat

  • Google Books

  • Other books (scan the bibliographies of books you’ve already found)

  • Browsing library shelves


How to find secondary sources1

How to Find Secondary Sources

Journal Articles:

  • Journal Indexes and Databases such as the MLA Database, Project Muse, JSTOR

    Some academic peer-reviewed journals are available for free online and can be accessed through Google Scholar or the DOAJ, but many journals can only be accessed in library databases or in print format at the library.


Finding books

Finding Books

Nischik, Reingard M. Engendering Genre: The Works of Margaret Atwood. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2009.

  • Search the Library Catalogue


Finding articles

Finding Articles

Deery, June. “Science for Feminists: Margaret Atwood’s Body of Knowledge.” Twentieth Century Literature 43.4 (1997): 470–86.

  • When you already have a citation: Use the Library Catalogue and/or Journal Finder to search for the title of the journal (not title of the article).


Finding articles1

Finding Articles

When you do not already have a citation for an article, and are looking for articles on a particular topic or about an author or work:

  • Use a journal index/library database

    Examples of library databases for literary studies:

  • MLA International Bibliography (aka, the MLA Database), JSTOR, Project Muse


What about encyclopedias

What about Encyclopedias?

There are many specialized and discipline-specific encyclopedias in the Library.

Examples:

  • The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature

  • Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature

  • The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism


Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias are often considered “tertiary” sources. These are sources that compile, summarize or repackage information found in primary and secondary sources. Typically, the contents of encyclopedias are based on the work of other scholars.


Encyclopedias1

Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias can help you:

  • Find an overview of a topic

  • Find a summary of the critical reception of a work or author

  • Contextual information (historical, biographical, political, etc.)

  • Additional secondary sources (articles in encyclopedias sometimes include a bibliography)

  • Names of scholars who have published on a topic

  • Become familiar with concepts and terminology that can help with your search strategy (i.e. help you identify good and relevant keywords!)


Search tip

Search Tip

Truncation Symbol

  • $ in the Library Catalogue

  • * in most other library databases

    Example:

    Canad$ will find: Canada, Canadian, Canadians, Canadiana…


Keyword selection

Keyword Selection

Sample essay topic:

Discuss the depiction of the poor in the works of American playwrights.

What are the relevant keywords?


Keyword selection1

Keyword Selection

Sample essay topic:

Discuss the depiction of the poor in the works of Americanplaywrights.

What are the relevant keywords?


Keyword selection2

Keyword Selection

However…

A search in the Library Catalogue for “poor and american and playwrights” yields no results.


Keyword selection3

Keyword Selection

However…

A search in the Library Catalogue for “poor and american and playwrights” yields no results.

Try using: synonyms, related words, variant spellings, etc.

In other words: try to account for the various ways different authors may express the same or similar ideas or topics.


Keyword selection4

Keyword Selection

poor and american and playwrights = 0 items

Using synonyms and related words:

(poor or poverty or class) and (america$ or united states) and (play$ or drama or theatre or theater) = 38 items


Keyword selection5

Keyword Selection

Examine the practice of women's life writing in renaissance england


Keyword selection6

Keyword Selection

Examine the practice of women's life writing in renaissanceengland


Wikipedia

Wikipedia

“Among my friends and acquaintances, everybody distrusts Wikipedia and everybody uses it…. Wikipedia is the ultimate open source repository of information. Everyone is free to read it and everyone is free to write it…. The information that it contains is totally unreliable and surprisingly accurate. It is often unreliable because many of the authors are ignorant or careless. It is often accurate because the articles are edited and corrected by readers who are better informed than the authors.”

Dyson, Freeman. “How We Know.” NYRB 10 Mar. 2011. Web. 24 Feb. 2011.


Wikipedia1

Wikipedia

“Over the long term, the quality of a given Wikipedia article will do a random walk around the highest level of quality permitted by the most persistent and aggressive people who follow an article.”

Sanger, Lawrence. “The Fate of Expertise After Wikipedia.” Episteme 6 (2009): 52-73. (Sanger is co-founder of Wikipedia and founder of Citizendium)


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