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English Research Guide

  • Find Background Info
  • Find Books and Films
  • Find Articles
  • Find Literature Online
  • Citing Sources

Find Background Info

Background sources, such as specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries, are an essential piece of the research process. They can help you:

  • Gather information about your topic and understand the scope of the research.
  • Locate reliable sources and clarify keywords.
  • Pinpoint important authors, texts, ideas, and key words about the research area; knowing what the primary phrases and concepts are will help you a lot as you are searching library databases and online sources

Credo Reference

Credo Reference is multi-publisher collection of high-quality reference titles covering everything from the arts to astronomy, law to literature, and science to Shakespeare. The collection currently contains over 162 titles taken from 36 different reference publishers and more titles are being added. Available titles also include a range of multimedia options including thousands of high-quality diagrams, photographs, maps and audio files.

Search Credo Reference

Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary is a historical dictionary of English, covering the language from the earliest times to the present day. It aims not only to show the current meanings of words, but also to trace their development through time. Entries contain detailed etymological analysis and are illustrated by quotations from a wide range of English language sources from around the world, making the OED a unique historical record.

Search the Oxford English Dictionary

Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism

The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism provides a thorough examination of the literary field’s most important people and ideas. It includes hundreds of entries about critical theory, the theorists themselves, and historical and regional information about different periods in critical theory.

Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism

Twayne’s Authors Online

Twayne’s offers detailed introductions to the lives of important authors worldwide, and a critical analysis of their key works.

Search Twayne’s Authors Online

Scribner Writers Online

Scriber’s entries include background essays, and biographical information that adds historical and critical context to the work of major authors.

Search Scribner Writers Online

Find Books and Films

Print and e-books are valuable sources for academic research. They will help you gain an overview of your topic and often contain in-depth information about the scholarship or history of research on a subject. Some books are written by single authors, while others include essays or chapters by multiple scholars within a discipline. Don’t let the length of books intimidate you because you don’t need to read them from cover to cover. Look at the table of contents and index to find the sections that are relevant to your work.

Find Books Using GriffinSearch

You can use GriffinSearch to find print and e-books available through Giovale Library. To get started, search by keyword or type in the title of a book here:

Academic Videos Online (AVON)

AVON provides unlimited access to a comprehensive selection of videos curated for the educational experience.

Search Academic Videos Online

Videos about Literature

Shakespeare Videos


WorldCat lets you search for books, articles, videos, and other material that are available in libraries worldwide. If you are doing in-depth research on a topic and are considering requesting resources through InterLibrary Loan, WorldCat can help you discover resources that might not be in the Giovale Library collection.

Search WorldCat

InterLibrary Loan (ILL)

InterLibrary Loan is a service where patrons of one library can borrow books and other materials, and access journal articles that are owned by another library.

InterLibrary Loan (ILL)

Utah Academic Library Consortium

Giovale Library participates in the Utah Academic Library Consortium (UALC) and Westminster College students have reciprocal circulation privileges at UALC partner libraries. Each UALC library has different circulation policies but all require a current, valid legal photo identification and proof of current enrollment at Westminster. Some libraries may also require other verification methods, so it is recommended that you contact the member library you are interested in using for details.

Utah Academic Library Consortium

Popular Titles and Features Texts

Research Methods for English Studies book cover

Research Methods for English Studies

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A Dictionary of Literary Symbols book cover

A Dictionary of Literary Symbols

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The Cambridge Shakespeare Guide book cover

The Cambridge Shakespeare Guide

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The Cambridge Introduction to Modernist Poetry book cover

The Cambridge Introduction to Modernist Poetry

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Find Articles

The Giovale Library provides access to a number of subject databases that you can use to find journal articles on topics within a specific discipline or field of study. The databases listed on this page are those that are most useful for finding research published in the field of English.


GriffinSearch is a good starting place if you are looking for books, journal articles, films, and other material available in the library. In addition to searching the Giovale Library catalog for physical materials, GriffinSearch finds e-books and articles from several of our databases.

Search GriffinSearch


Produced by the Modern Language Association, this database offers citations for journal articles, books, and dissertations concerning literature, modern language studies, linguistics, and drama.

Search MLA

Literature Resource Center

Literature Resource Center provides access to author biographies, reviews, and literacy criticism for research on authors and texts from all time periods and from around the world.

Search Literature Resource Center


JSTOR is an archive of full text articles from journals in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. It includes retrospective coverage of publications as well as access to many current journals.

Search JSTOR

Poetry and Short Story Reference

A full text database that provides access to classic and contemporary poems, short stories, bibliographies, and essays on literary forms and movements.

Search Poetry and Short Story Reference

Project Muse

Project Muse offers full text coverage of journals and ebooks in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics, with a focus on resources published by university presses.

Search Project Muse

Find Literature Online

From early English books to contemporary poetry, these websites offer only a glimpse of the primary texts for literary research that are now available online.

Early English Books Online - Text Creation Partnership

This collection contains fully-searchable texts of books printed between 1475–1700.

Search EEBO - TCP

Manuscripts Online

Manuscripts Online allows you access to primary sources in Britain during 1000 to 1500. The resources include literary manuscripts, historical documents and early printed books. Works are housed on the websites owned by libraries, archives, universities and publishers that provided the document.

Search Manuscripts Online

British Library: Discovering Literature

Explore canonical works of literature in the context of the social, political, and cultural themes prevalent during the time of their writing. Discovering Literature offers you a “peek” into the worlds that helped shape some of the greatest literary works in history.

Search British Library: Discovering Literature

Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation is an independent literary organization dedicated to providing worldwide access to poetry.

Search Poetry Foundation


Browse through over 7,000 poems, and over 2,500 biographies of poets to discover essays, books, anthologies, and textbooks about poetry as a literary art form.

Search Poets.org

Citing Sources

Citing your sources helps you avoid plagiarism and shows that you’ve done research to become knowledgeable about your topic. Proper citations allow your readers to track down your sources and help them understand how your research is connected to the work of others in your field. On this page, you will find guides and tools to help you format citations, and you will learn about what constitutes plagiarism.

How to Cite Sources

With all of the many ways that you can plagiarize someone’s work, either accidentally or on purpose, how can you make sure that you’re citing your sources correctly each and every time? One way is to become familiar with reputable sources that will help you learn or confirm that how you are citing your source is correct.

PurdueOWL contains writing guides, grammatical rules, and citation help that will assist with many writing projects.

Zotero is the ideal tool to gather, analyze, and document all of your sources. It is compatible with GriffinSearch and other library databases, allowing you to save citations and articles while you research. Visit the Zotero website to find out more, or stop by the library for some help getting started.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism means taking someone else’s work or ideas and trying to pass them off as your own. Plagiarism can either be intentional or unintentional, and even the most careful writer could accidentally plagiarize without fully knowing it. For example, did you know that it is plagiarism even if you misattribute a quote to the wrong author? Even if you cited the source and took care to put it in your bibliography, if the wrong person received credit for someone else’s work, it can still be considered plagiarism. Other forms of plagiarism include:

  • Copying and pasting someone else’s work and turning it in as your own
  • Using a quote from someone without giving them credit
  • Not putting a quotation in quotation marks
  • Changing a few words here and there, but keeping the main ideas of a sentence without giving credit to the original author
  • Copying pictures from Google or another website to use without saying where you found the image

Of course, all of these scenarios of potential plagiarism can be avoided by knowing how to properly cite your sources.