English Studies

Guide for students in English Department courses

Getting Started

Welcome to the English Studies research guide. On the homepage you will find general research databases, reference sources, search tips, citation help, and library information and news. Explore the navigation links on the left to find subject-specific research tools. If the OSU Libraries does not have a book or article you need, no problem! Click here to use Article Express to request an electronic scan of articles held in OSU Library collections and the collections of other libraries around the world. Click here to request books and other materials through Interlibrary Loan not available in either the OSU or OhioLINK catalogs.

There are several ways to locate the information you need:

Search the catalogs to find books, journals (but not articles within journals--use the databases to find articles), microforms, multimedia, and links to online sources (databases and online journals) owned or licensed by a library. If you're new to the catalog, I suggest searching by keyword or trying the linked subject searches (using the controlled vocabulary of the Library of Congress) included on each page of this guide. 

OSU Catalog - Search for books, e-books, and other materials owned by OSU Libraries, Columbus and regional campuses. Borrow Materials online. You can also search with a special mobile version of the OSU Catalog.

OhioLINK Catalog - Combined catalog of a consortium of 88 Ohio university and college libraries, the State Library of Ohio, and more. Have materials delivered to OSU. 

WorldCat Local@OSU - Searches materials at OSU, OhioLINK (the Ohio libraries shared catalog), and libraries worldwide.

Search the Research Databases list by title or subject to find journal articles, many of which may be available as full text. 

Search the OSUL's Online Journals list by title or subject to locate a specific online journal title, browse a list of online journal titles, or identify online journal titles by subject.

If your instructor put material on hold for your course, click here.

Background or reference sources provide concise, contextual information on a topic (bibliographies, biographical information, dates, timelines, etc.). You can also use these sources to to find keywords to use for searching online library databases and library catalogs for books and articles on your topic. 

Primary sources are the raw materials of history —original documents and objects which were created at the
time under study (Library of Congress). Examples include an 18th-century newspaper, Samuel Pepys' diary, William Wordsworth's poem, Desideria, and Zadie Smith's novel, On Beauty. For more on primary sources, see the resource guide created by OSUL's David Lincove.

Secondary sources discuss, interpret, and/or critique primary sources. 

Peer-reviewed articles have been vetted by other experts in the field before they were published in a scholarly journal. Many databases will allow you to limit your search to peer-reviewed articles.

Popular articles are written by journalists or professional writers for a general audience. 


The Ohio State University Libraries Special Collections collect, preserve, and promote the use of distinctive collections, unique resources and primary research materials. Our diverse collections are available for use by Ohio State University faculty and students as well as visiting scholars and the general public. A search of the Libraries catalog may be limited to only special collections holdings on the Search page by selecting “Special Collections and Archives” in place of “Search Full Catalog.”

Students of literature may be particularly interested in the Rare Books and Manuscripts (RBMS) collection. You can also follow RBMS on Facebook and subscribe to the blog. Browse the online finding aids, inventories, and guides to learn more about the collections available.

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum houses the world’s largest collection of materials related to cartoons and comics, including original art, books, magazines, journals, comic books, archival materials, and newspaper comic strip pages and clippings. Researchers can make an appointment by emailing cartoons@osu.edu.

The site is being developed by the Department of English at Ohio State, but we welcome input and suggestions from all members of the community. If others are interested, we are happy to share “ownership” of this resource far and wide. We are all in this together.

Need more help?

Visit related subject guides created by OSU librarians:

Education (includes children's literature)


Anthropology (more resources on Native American literature, folklore studies)

Africana Studies


Classics (Greek and Latin literature)


Selected Databases--Research

OSU subscribes to over 500 databases, all listed under "Research Databases." These are search tools that can help you identify articles from many kinds of sources--historical, contemporary, popular, and scholarly. If you're not sure where to start looking for articles, try first searching for your topic in Academic Search Complete, Humanities International Complete, or MLA International Bibliography.

General Reference Sources

Selected Databases--Primary Sources