ENG101: Researching Literature (Prof. Grant)

Use this guide to research short stories and themes for Prof. Grant's ENG101 assignment.

Research Instruction: Library Homepage and ENG101

Library Database search Tips 1) Advanced Search AND overlaps subjects Called Boolean logic  George Boole (1815–1864) (image shows two overlapping circles) sleep AND learning  2) truncation Looks for all word endings Star is wildcard symbol  asterisk (*) - shift/8  psych* finds psychology  psychological  psychologist etc.  3) Phrase search Search two or more words together Makes search more precise Use quotation marks "community college" "New York" "United States"

Put it all together:

Here are database-friendly searches, with unnecessary words removed:

Instead of:  "What are the causes of test anxiety?"  
Use: "test anxiety" AND cause* 

Instead of:  "What's the effect of the pandemic on mental health of college students?"
Use: COVID-19 AND "mental health" AND "college students"

Instead of: "Does using social media increase anxiety among teenagers?"
Use: "social media" AND anxiety AND teen*

Database searching summary:

Article Databases To Try

Best Databases for Each Story: 

  • For "Sonny's Blues" use Proquest Central
  • For "There Come Soft Rains" use Proquest Central and Gale Virtual Resource Center
  • For "Cannibalism in the Cars" use Proquest Central
  • For "An Alcoholic Case" use Proquest Central
  • For "The Wives of the Dead" use Proquest Central, JSTOR, and Academic OneFile
  • For "Rip Van Winkle" use Proquest Central and JSTOR. 
  • Use the searches to the left in these databases.
  • Click "Scholarly Journals" and "Full text".

Search Help

Review these tips so your database searches find good results. Ask a librarian for help at any point!

Database Searching

Choosing the keywords you use to search for resources is one of the first big hurdles to doing a research project.

Tips for choosing search terms, or keywords (in general):

  • Use as many synonyms for your topic as you can think of until you find the one the gets the most/best results
  • Keep track of the terms and term combinations you've tried already
  • Let materials you've already found help you:
    • check out the Subject Terms associated with that article for keywords to try; also keep track of terms for your topic you learn from reading the resource. 


Tips for choosing search terms, or keywords (for this assignment):

  • Search for the title of your story paired with themes or elements from the story you're interested in 
    • ex. "The Wives of the Dead" AND survival 
    • ex. "Cannibalism in the Cars" AND "humor"
  • Not getting many results? Take away all but the most important key term (usually the story's title) and search again.
  • Use the Subject dropdown located on the left hand margin in most databases to guide you.
  • Still not getting many results? Try searching for articles about other stories by your author that might have similar themes.
    • You can then extrapolate that information to apply it to the story you're working on. 
    • ex. empathy is a major theme in this other Baldwin story; perhaps it works a similar way in "Sonny's Blues"

STILL not getting many results? You may need to change your topic, and that's okay! Settling on  a fruitful topic itself is research, and  a normal part of the academic research process.



Ebooks About Your Authors

Find these titles and more by searching for them in the library's catalog! Copy/paste the titles into the main search bar on the library homepage and hit Enter. Then, from the dropdown options on the right side of the search bar select Ebooks as your material type and hit Enter again. Access the full text online by following the link from the book's description.


I found these titles by searching: author name AND (criti* OR inter*)

Reference Librarian

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Joyce A. Miller
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Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Library Science; Part-time Reference Librarian (two days a week during Spring & Fall semesters). Liaison to Business and Science Divisions.
SUNY Adirondack, 640 Bay Road Queensbury NY 12804
(Please call me Joyce, or Professor Miller.)

Email millerja@sunyacc.edu or librarian@sunyacc.edu.