Skip to Main Content

ENGL 1151 - Spring 2022


To get started today, log into a classroom computer or your own personal laptop, tablet, etc. and open the MRU Library website

How to find the ENGL 1151 course guide:

  1. Go to the library home page (
  2. Click on "Research Support" (on the menu bar)
  3. Click "Subject Guides & Specialists"
  4. Look for English and click "guide"
  5. Look for "courses" (on the menu) bar and select "ENGL 1151 - Boettger"


  1. Introduction (2:51) - A brief introduction to the course guide and videos.
  2. Evaluating Sources (7:44) - Suggestions for choosing the best quality and relevant sources
  3. Scholarly / Academic Sources (5:24) - Characteristics of scholarly sources and a definition of peer-review
  4. Choosing a Search Tool (5:58) - Different types of search tools and where to find them on the MRU website
  5. Using LibrarySearch - Part 1 (7:16) - Effective strategies for searching In LibrarySearch
  6. Using LibrarySearch - Part 2 (9:16) - Interpreting the results of your search
  7. Introduction to Literature Search Tools (5:30) - Tips for literature searching


Four steps to choosing your topic and research question

  1. Choose a more general question or topic
  2. Do some background research to find out a bit more and see how others have discussed that topic.
  3. Develop some more focused questions that you might want to focus on
  4. Further define your topic - avoid being too broad (or you will never be able to cover it all) or too narrow (you may not find enough information)
  5. Not sure if your topic is too broad or too narrow? You might have to do a bit more searching and reading to find out. 

Some ways to narrow a topic are to focus on a specific area such as:

  • Time period
  • Geographical location 
  • Population group
  • A sub-category of the topic or specific aspect or element of the larger theme
  • Compare or contrast two elements - such as place, time or population 

Strengths: short, contains background information on a topic, normally a great starting point when you are just learning about a topic
Weaknesses: too short, print encyclopedias are out of date quickly, Wikipedia has reliability issues

Books and Book Chapters
Strengths: Provides an in-depth investigation into a topic
Weaknesses: too long, sometimes hard to tell whether it is scholarly

Scholarly Journal Articles
Strengths: often based on research findings or extensive review, written by experts, reviewed by experts, provides evidence
Weaknesses: Sometimes written using discipline-specific language or terminology, hard to understand,

Media Sources (news, online magazine articles)
Strengths: Good for current information
Weaknesses: Sometimes biased, sometimes written to entertain, often not written by experts, often not reviewed by experts

Websites & Social Media
Strengths: Highly accessible, includes government info
Weaknesses: It is hard to assess credibility and reliability...anyone can post online or create a website

Lectures, Ted Talks, Interviews, Recordings, Testimony
Strengths: Primary, first-hand accounts
Weaknesses: It is hard to assess credibility and reliability...single perspective relying on the accuracy of memory.


Quality refers to how trustworthy and reputable your source is.

  1. Purpose: Consider the purpose of the source.  Why did the authors write it and how do you know that?
    • Is it fact or opinion?  Is there bias?  (Does the source favour one thing over another in an unfair way (sometimes referred to as one-sided)?
    • Consider the audience of the source.  Who did the authors write it for and how do you know that?
  2. Authority: Consider who wrote the source and who is responsible for the source.  Are the authors experts on the topic and how do you know that?  Who is responsible for this information - a company, a government, a university, personal?  How do you know that?
  3. Currency: Consider when the source was published or written.  How recently was it written and how do you know that?
  4. Reliability: Consider the information from the source.  Does your source provide details about where they got their information - such as references?
  5. Relevance: What does it have to do with my topic?

Visual for Quality and Relevence

Academic Publications

  • Often referred to as academic, peer-reviewed, or refereed 
  • Written by experts in a particular field
  • Keep others interested in that field up to date on the most recent research and findings. 

What is peer-review?

  • When a source has been peer-reviewed it has undergone the review and scrutiny of a review board of colleagues in the author's field.  They evaluate this source as part of the body of research for a particular discipline and make recommendations regarding its publication in a journal, revisions prior to publication, or, in some cases, reject its publication.

General Characteristics

  1. Author: Expert in the field
  2. Review: Reviewed by other experts (peers)
  3. Audience / Language: Written for scholars and students; uses academic language
  4. Content: Original research and criticism; uses previous research literature for background
  5. Citations: Always


  1. Peer-reviewed articles
  2. Scholarly books (can be challenging to identify)
  3. Literature reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analysis
  4. Thesis and dissertations

What are the best tools for the information that I need?

General Search Tools

  • These search multiple disciplines.  Not as strong for finding discipline-specific topics (ie.  stress - psychology or stress - engineering)
  • Examples include: LibrarySearch, Academic Search Complete, Google Scholar

Subject Specific Search Tools (Use the subject guides to help identify these)

  • These tools are focused on a specific discipline, such as psychology, economics, biology, etc.  Use the subject guides to help choose a subject specific search tool

Background / Reference Search Tools (Use the subject guides to help identify these)

  • Useful for finding background information on your topic, finding key people, understanding key concepts and locating other readings.  Includes encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc.

General Searching Tips:

Less is More: Start with one or two words and then add one additional term at a time

  • suffrage
  • suffrage Canada

Phrase searching: Use "quotation marks" around key ideas made up of multiple words

  • "suffrage movement"
  • very useful when you have a specific phrase containing common words

Truncation: Use an asterisk * to find different endings to your keywords

  • suffrage* = suffrage, suffrages, suffragette
  • canad* = canada, canadian, canadians

Use limits: These refine (narrow) your search using different restrictions

  • Date (last 10 years)
  • Peer-reviewed (for articles)

You can combine all the above in your search:

  • Canad* "suffrage movement" parliament

When searching English Literature, consider:

  1. Author (as subject)
  2. Author's work(s)
  3. Themes in author's works / similar themes in other works
  4. Issues of the time or literary period (ie. aesthetic, philosophical, social, political, etc.)
  5. Analysis/ methodology (ie. rhetorical analysis, etc.)
  6. Criticism / critical
  7. Filter out review articles

Tips for Reading Scholarly Articles*

Check for relevance – is the article useful for what you’re doing? You will likely never find the perfect article that’s exactly on the topic you have in mind – but you will find ones that are close and useful because:

  • They provide background or context
  • They provide theories that help you examine/understand a new situation
  • They look at a similar group of people
  • They look at similar situations
  • They use methods that you could use to answer similar questions
  • They apply techniques that could be useful in your situation
  • They have useful bibliographies that direct you to even better materials

Print out the article –studies show that reading in print is better for comprehension and retention.

Skim to get the general idea – review introduction, headings, conclusion to see if the article will suit your needs

Get comfortable and carve out a little time – reading for depth takes focus and practice, and you’ll probably have to read the article more than once

Read with a pen in your hand – mark up interesting points, points, odd words, circle key concepts

Read the article by having a dialogue with the author – “really?” “prove it!” “are you sure about that?”- constantly question the author(s)

Practice slow reading – mostly we don’t read, we skim - summarize paragraphs as you go, read the article aloud to slow down

Note unfamiliar words and concepts – look them up on your second read through

Make connections as you go – note what the article reminds you of, what thoughts it provokes, how it matches or contradicts your experience – these connections are critical to your understanding of texts.

Draw things out –stats, tables, connections or relationships can make more sense if you diagram them

Consider approaches and limitations– if you started with the same question(s) as the author – how would you approach finding the answers?  What’s missing from the article – what questions does it leave you with?

Discuss the article with others – students identified this as a very useful strategy for getting the most from articles

*Adapted by Madelaine Vanderwerff from handouts by J. M Loyer &M. MacMillan

Citing and Referencing in MLA

  1. Use the "cite" feature in most search tools to get you started with most resources
  2. Use the MRU citations guides and resources to find additional help for MLA, including guides, and videos. 
  3. Use the Service Desk on the 1st floor of the RLLC for assistance as well as the library chat feature on the library website.
  4. Make an appointment with Student Learning Services


Profile Photo
Chris Thomas

Phone: 403.440.8501
Office: EL4423E