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Let's begin

During today's class we will cover:

  • Brief review of your assignment and where you need to include library resources
  • Talk about different types of information sources, with a focus on scholarly sources
  • Demonstrate how to find sources using LibrarySearch
  • Facilitated search exercise
    • Use this time to look for relevant resources
    • Share sources with the class
  • Where to get help later

Goal: By the end of this session you will understand the difference between types of sources, how to identify scholarly sources, how to search for sources for your assignment, and where to get help later.

Sources you'll need for your assignment

For your assignment on a Canadian author you must find sources to create a bibliography.

  • Three (3) primary sources (e.g., novels, plays, memoirs or collections) written by the author.
  • Two (2) encyclopedia entries about this author’s life and works.
  • One (1) scholarly book about, or that includes a chapter about, your chosen author.
  • Two (2) scholarly articles from academic journals that comment on one or more of the works of your chosen author.

Your bibliography will have a total of eight (8) entries, and must be formatted according to MLA style guidelines.

Be sure to review your assignment handout for full requirements and to understand the grading rubric.

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.
  • Know that the term primary source has somewhat different meanings in other disciplines.

The example below is a primary source is a book of short stories written by Mavis Gallant. You can tell this because Gallant herself. is listed as the author/creator of the work.

Reference sources

  • As a type of secondary source and sometimes called background sources, includes encyclopedias, handbooks, guidebooks, dictionaries, and more.
  • Usually provide an overview and key facts about a topic or person, such as biographical information, or else summarize or synthesize existing research on a particular topic 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 sources

  • This type of secondary source usually appears as a journal article or scholarly books/chapters, but can also include dissertations/theses, conference proceedings, and other formats.
  • Will always include, build on, and cite research created by others.
  • For literary research, usually include thorough interpretation, analysis, criticism, or reflection upon primary sources.  They might examine a single work or a collection of works by a single author, or look at multiple works by different authors.
  • 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. Observe that in both examples Mavis Gallant's name appears in the title signalling that the work is about Gallant; also that someone else is the author of this 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 previously academic literature for background News and practical information; uses a variety of sources for background
Citations Always provided, usually an extensive list Rarely provided

Activity: What type of source?

There are three example sources linked below. Can you identify what type of source?

Open each link, then review the library catalogue record for clues to help you identify what type of source it is. Submit one response for each source.

What type of source is source 1 linked above?
Encyclopedia article (secondary source): 0 votes (0%)
Scholarly book (secondary source): 3 votes (12.5%)
Scholarly article (secondary source): 0 votes (0%)
Primary source: 21 votes (87.5%)
Total Votes: 24

What type of source is source 2 linked above?
Encyclopedia article (secondary source): 7 votes (28%)
Scholarly book (secondary source): 2 votes (8%)
Scholarly article (secondary source): 15 votes (60%)
Primary source: 1 votes (4%)
Total Votes: 25

What type of source is the source 3 linked above?
Encyclopedia article (secondary source): 14 votes (51.85%)
Scholarly book (secondary source): 3 votes (11.11%)
Scholarly article (secondary source): 9 votes (33.33%)
Primary source: 1 votes (3.7%)
Total Votes: 27

Finding your sources

For this assignment you are expected to find several primary works from MRU's library collection. These could be print or electronic resources. You should use LibrarySearch to start your search for these sources.

You can use one keywords, or several, to search. Your author's name, or the title of one of their novels/stories/plays, will be particularly helpful. Then use the filters on the right to

  • limit to "Available Online" checkbox for electronic items (don't use this if you want print materials).
  • 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. Your 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 your 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

LibrarySearch Filters

When searching for literary works, your author's name or the specific title of the novel/story/play is a great place to start.

You can use the filters on the right to adjust your search:

  • Available Online =  Limits to electronic items only (to eliminate print items from your search)
  • Peer-Reviewed = Limits to scholarly articles 
  • Resource Type -  Filter for articles, or books, or reference entries
  • Author/Creator - Find primary sources written BY your chosen author by expanding the "Author" menu and looking for your author's name

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

Finding information for your citations

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

This image highlights the common layout of publication information for a print book, as it is displayed in MRU's LibrarySearch results. For a print 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 a journal article. Note that different journals and databases may display this information in different places.

screen capture of journal article


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Richard Hayman

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MLA citation resources

MLA Citation Resources
Additional Assistance with Citation
  • You can make an appointment with Writing and Learning Services to get detailed help with the citations for your assignments.
  • You can ask citation related questions via the Library's Chat service.