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Sources you'll need for your assignment

For your assignment on a Canadian author you must find sources to create a works cited list that includes

  • three (3) primary sources (e.g., novels, plays, or collections) written by the author.
  • one or two (1-2) encyclopedia entries about this author’s life and works.
  • six (6) scholarly articles from academic journals that comment on one or more of the works by your chosen author.

Your works cited should have a total of ten (10) entries. See your assignment handout for full details.

Primary sources in literature

  • Original works such as novels, short stories, poems, plays and dramatic works, essays, memoirs, or other creative expressions.
  • For this assignment the primary works you select must be written by the author you have chosen to study.

The example below is a primary source is a book of short stories written by Mavis Gallant. Note that the creator or author of the work is Gallant herself.

Reference sources

  • Includes encyclopedias, handbooks, guidebooks, dictionaries, and more.
  • Also known background sources, they usually provide an overview and key facts about a topic or person, such as biographical information.
  • Not based on original academic research. Instead they summarize or synthesize existing research in order to provide information in a brief, easy to understand format. 
  • For your assignment the reference entries should you select should be about the author or their works.

The example below is an encyclopedia entry for Canadian author Mavis Gallant.

Scholarly secondary sources

  • They present original research in the form of literary interpretation, analysis, criticism, or reflection upon primary sources. 
  • Will always include, build on, and cite research created by others.
  • Can examine an single work or a collection of works by a single author, or look at multiple works by different authors.
  • Published as articles, books, book chapters, conference proceedings, dissertations/theses, and some other formats.
  • For your assignment you must use scholarly journal articles that comment on one or more works by your author.

Below are two examples of secondary sources, an article and a book. Note that in both examples, Mavis Gallant's name appears in the title, and that someone else is the author of the source.

How to tell if your source is scholarly

For most academic assignments, including this one, you are expected to use scholarly secondary sources.


Academic (scholarly, or peer-reviewed) sources Popular/Trade source
Author An academic expert in the field, usually with an advanced degree Journalist or professional writer
Peer reviewed by other academic experts in the field, who look carefully at research methods and sources cited Reviewed by an editor for spelling and grammar


Written for scholars and students; uses academic language Written for the general public; uses everyday language
Content Original research and criticism; uses previous academic literature for background News and practical information; uses a variety of sources for background
Citations Always provided, usually an extensive list Rarely provided

Finding your sources

This video provides a quick introduction to LibrarySearch. Use the popout button to view a larger version.

For this assignment you are expected to find several primary works from MRU's library collection. These could be print or electronic resources.

You can use LibrarySearch to find these works. Start your search with keywords, such as your author's name, or the title of one of their novels/stories/plays. Then use the filters on the right to

  • limit to "Available Online" checkbox for electronic items (don't use this if you want print books).
  • find primary sources written by your author using the "Author" filter and looking for your author's name.
  • use the "Resource Type" filter to limit for books or book chapters.

For this assignment, you are expected to use specialized academic encyclopedias in MRU's library collection. Tour best option is to use one of the recommended reference sources listed below. When searching:

  • keep your search terms simple - search using your author's name only (double check the spelling).
  • if you don't find any entries about your author, try searching in LibrarySearch.

Alternative option: Use LibrarySearch to search for your author or a specific work by your author, then use the search limits on the right side to limit by Resource Type = Reference Entries.


For this assignment you are expected to use academic journal articles from MRU's electronic subscriptions.

You can also use LibrarySearch tips to find the scholarly journal articles needed for your assignment.

Start your search with keywords; again, your author's name is a good place to begin, but you can also use the title of one of their novels/stories/plays. Then use the filters on the left to

  • limit to "Available Online" for electronic items
  • find scholarly sources by selecting the "Peer-reviewed" checkbox (only applies to journals)
  • use the "Resource Type" filter to limit to articles

Finding information for your citations

This image highlights the common layout of publication information for a print book, as it is displayed in MRU's LibrarySearch results. For a book in your hand, this information will usually be located on the back of the title page, or on a separate page near the front of the book.

Note that print books like the example below are standalone items and have no container for MLA citations, for ebooks MLA requires the title of the ebook platform or database as a second container.screen capture print book

The example below highlights the common layout of publication information for an encyclopedia entry. Note that different encyclopedias display this information in different places, and also that often much more information is provided than is required for citation.


Screen capture of encyclopedia entry

The example below highlights the common layout of publication information for a journal article. Note that different journals and databases may display this information in different places.

screen capture of journal article

Citation resources

Writing and citation help is available from Student Learning Services. Here are some resources you might find useful.

This video provides a short introduction to the basics of MLA citation (8th edition).

This video provides an detailed explanation of the MLA works cited list (8th edition).


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Alice Swabey
Appointments available via Google Meet. In-person appointments temporarily on-hold but back soon. Available for drop-in help at the Library Service Desk Mondays 2-4 p.m.