Skip to Main Content

American Literature 1: 17th Century - Mid-Nineteenth Century: Research Help

Searching Tips: Finding Books and Articles

To find books, articles and ejournals search the library's online catalog WorldCat or search Databases. Please check with librarians to see if any journals or magazines are held in the library.

First, try a simple keyword search such as American Poets. Keyword searches produce a large amount of results. This type of search is broad and less precise. Fortunately, most online catalogs and databases have features to help you refine your search terms. Refinement features may include author, year, format, content, audience, or sub-topics.

Creating a search strategy:

Next, try Boolean searching. This type of searching allows you to combine keywords using operators AND, OR, and NOT. 

To narrow your results use AND with two or more concepts. Example: Edgar Allen Poe AND Purloined Letter AND criticism

To broaden your search use OR with synonymous or related words.Example: Narrative OR Plot - the database will produce results to include one result or the other or both.

Sometimes one of your search terms may produce a list of results that includes articles that are not relevant to your topic. Using the operator NOT eliminates words from your search and reduces the number of results. Example: short story NOT novel . The word Novel will be excluded from the search. 

Full-text Databases: refers to electronic resources with access to the complete text of articles in journals, books, newspapers, theses, dissertations, and more..illustrations, graphs, charts, and images may be included.

Using the Library's Catalog

The library's online catalog is known as WorldCat.

Here you can search for printed books and journals available in the library's collection. You can also search for eBooks, eJournals, and other media available to WVU Tech.

Keyword Searches

This is a broad search. You will get many results - maybe too many and not-so precise. But this basic search can help in another way. You will see different types of resources in the results, such as, reviews, criticism, biographies, cyclopedias, and other helpful resources.

Title Searches

This is a more refined search if you happen to know the title, parts of a title, or want to search for key terms that may be found in a title.. This type of search strategy will retrieve a matching record and identify the available format and copy held in the library.

Author Searches

If you are doing research on the works of a particular author, you will want to do an author search. The most common search strategy is to place the author's last name first followed by his/her first name. Example: Bronte, Emily. Some newer systems allow for natural order of a person' s name such as Emily Bronte.

Some authors used pseudonyms, so you'll need to include that in your search.

Subject Searches

This type of search can help you identify relevant results. Cataloged items (book, journal) have records that contain subject headings. These subject headings describe the primary subjects of a work, as well, as secondary subjects. Often the record includes other entries associated with the book such as the author's name, geographical location, time period, or other significant topics.

Library of Congress Classification System - Browsing the shelves -PS