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English Courses & Research

How to research an author or work

Need an author bio? Overview of a work? Critical reception over the years?

  • Authors and works over 20 years old:

    • There are books that literally do exactly this for you--start there (you may have to look in the index or browse the shelf to find what you need)
  • Authors and works from the past 10-20 years:

    • Interviews with the author on websites, podcasts, YouTube, newspapers, magazines, etc
    • The author's own website
    • Reviews in more standard publications, best bet is our ProQuest Central database

Ready to get in-depth into an author or work?

  • Search OneSearch and WorldCat with keywords or subject terms.
  • Or, figure out the location of one book on the shelves and browse the books next to it on the same topic.
    • Simply look at the call number of one relevant book, find that in person, and browse around.

Find specific criticism or archival/primary sources

Specific Criticism:

  • Even current authors will be in the databases linked below; if not, revise your expectations to criticism in credible magazines and newspapers.
  • Know the difference:

    • A BOOK REVIEW is a critical examination of that book. While well-written, it is not a scholarly study and should not be cited.

    • LITERARY CRITICISM evaluates or analyzes works of literature and will be in a peer-reviewed journal research article or book.

Archival material or primary sources

  • Search online using keywords primary sources, archives, museum, site:org, or any combination plus your topic
  • Screencap of using primary sources and site:org in a search

Vogel Library, Wartburg College   |   100 Wartburg Blvd, Waverly, IA, 50677 |   Phone: 319-352-8500   | Email: asklibrarian@wartburg.edu