Basics - Find Scholarship and Criticism

Start with What You Know

Course readings and your instructor's recommendations are great places to build from

  • Pay attention to the names of journals, books, and authors
  • Look through footnotes and works cited lists for references to more scholarship
  • For journals, see if you can find “most cited” articles or browse recent issues on the journal’s website
  • For books and articles, look them up in HOLLIS or the MLA Bibliography and find useful search vocabulary under “subjects”

Understand Source Types

Traditional academic publications

These formats are the backbone of scholarship in most fields.

  • Journals
    • Look for a peer-review policy, intended audience, editorial board
  • Monographs and edited collections (i.e. academic books)
  • Conference proceedings
    • More common in the sciences and social sciences than in literary studies. Try to assess the quality of the conference by searching around for what other people say about it. Look up the authors to assess their prominence in the field, or to find their journal/book publications on the same topic.

Book reviews

  • A "review" can be anything from a brief blurb to an extended essay that reviews multiple books together and makes its own argument on the topic. A good review summarizes the scholarly landscape relevant to the book, describing major works and schools of thought.
  • Where to find reviews:
    • Academic journals: these often have entire sections devoted to reviews of scholarly books in fields relevant to the journal's focus. A great place to find reviews of niche academic works and to find reviews written for an academic audience, with more detail about the scholarly conversation the book participates in. Filter your HOLLIS results to Resource Type: Reviews. Example: reviews of The Swerve.
    • Newspapers and magazines: here you'll find reviews for a general audience. The authors are often scholars, but the books under review are more likely to be with trade presses and to have wide appeal. Look for reviews in reputable magazines and newspapers such as the New York Review of Books, Public Books, Harper's, the LA Times Book Review, New York Times Book Review, and the New Yorker. Search across these kinds of magazines in Academic Search Premier.

Other venues for academic conversations

Check with your instructor---depending on your project, it may or may not make sense for you to draw on material found in these more informal venues.

  • general-audience publications (magazines, newspapers, "trade" books)
  • social media (Twitter, Facebook, blogs)
  • presentations (academic conference papers, guest lectures)
  • unpublished academic work (dissertations, theses)