Literature research skills

Primary and secondary sources for poet Emily Dickinson


Want to ensure that all of your majors have a grasp of the information ecosystem in your discipline? Invite a LITS liaison to an introductory class!

During the fall 2017 and spring 2018 semesters, Library, Information and Technology Services  Liaison Mary Stettner met with students in faculty members Nigel Alderman and Katherine O’Callaghan’s English 199: Introduction to the Study of Literature course sections. Foundation courses are a great place to begin laying the groundwork for subject-specific research skills, setting students up for success in their upper level coursework. Using a combination of pre-class assignments, hands-on exercises, and discussion, students learned:

  • the difference between primary and secondary sources in the field of literature

  • the difference between popular and scholarly sources and what peer review is

  • how to find and use reference works for basic contextual information and to generate keywords and topic ideas

  • the best databases for finding peer-reviewed secondary sources and how to use them

  • tips for formulating effective search queries.

Thanks to faculty members Alderman, O’Callaghan, and also Suparna Roychoudhury for productive discussions about their students’ research needs and skill gaps and how to fill them.