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Researching Writers and Their Work

For students exploring literary works such as novels, short stories, poems, and plays

Search Engine Tips

Nobody has time to wade through millions of Web pages.  By using a few simple strategies -- and your search engine's advanced search form - you can begin retrieving more relevant and more credible Web pages.

Limit your searches by domain.  Web pages originating in the governmental (.gov) or educational (.edu) realm are a good place to look for credible information.  When looking at medical issues, organizations (.org) are often a good place to start. You still have to evaluate everything, as inaccurate and biased information exists in every domain.

Limiting searches to PDF documentsLimiting searches to PDF documents will often retrieve information that has been previously published. Previously published information is nice because it has often been through an editorial process.

Language Matters. Using precise search terms and scholarly language will also help retrieve more relevant and academically appropriate documents.

Location of Search Terms. Try searching for documents that have your search terms in their titles, as they will often be more relevant.

Searching the Web is so easy and immediate; it is often the first place we look for information. There is a lot of invaluable information on the Web, too, including primary source documents, current news stories, images, government reports, and more. 

Using the Web to find literary criticism is problematic. To quote the Library of Congress: "Although some literary criticism can now be found through the free Internet, the vast majority of scholarly criticism is still found in print or through subscription databases accessible through libraries." 

There is simply not a lot of literary criticism freely available on the Web, and what IS there is often produced by students and/or enthusiasts who lack the proper authority and credentials to use as sources for academic work.

When you do use the Web, be meticulous about thoroughly evaluating everything you are considering as a source. Remember the CRAAP Test!


Finding Literary Criticism on the Web

Use Google to search for resources on the Web.

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Selected Web Sites: 

Below are a few high-quality Web sites focusing on literary criticism.