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English Language Studies

This guide is a selection of all the best resources, from the Library and beyond, for your research in English Language Studies

Before You Start Your Research ...

Before you start your research, make sure you understand what type of assignment you have been given. Remember to start early so you have enough time to find all the resources you need.

The following steps outline an effective research strategy needed to complete an essay, class presentation, or a term paper in most courses at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

7 Steps to Success

For some students this is the hardest part of writing a paper. The following tips may make the process a little easier:

  • Choose a topic from a list supplied by the instructor whenever possible or choose to write about something that interests you. Discuss your topic ideas with your instructor to make sure they are appropriate.
  • Check the Library Catalogue to see what resources are available for a particular topic.
  • Browse current Kwantlen periodicals on the Library shelves, electronic journals that Kwantlen subscribes to, or browse the subject and keyword lists in full text online databases to see if any of the topics covered spark your interest.
  • Use Encyclopedias to identify (broaden or narrow) topics.
  • Ask a librarian to help you get started.

The following tutorials will help you with identifying and developing your topic:

  • the a.r.t. of Analysis - How to choose a topic, determine what information you need, and select which sources to search for information
  • the a.r.t. of Planning - outlines the processes on how to refine your topic and write a research paper.

Now you have to start your research. Whether using the library catalogue , a research database or a search engine , you will need the best possible search terms or key words. The success of your search will depend on your choice of these words.
Analyze your topic for key concepts to use as search terms (keywords). Your concepts can be:

  • a subject ( eating disorders )
  • an event ( World War II )
  • or a person ( Jane Austen )

After you have identified the key concepts, try also to identify synonyms for your terms, related terms and spelling variations (e.g. marihuana, marijuana, cannabis ).

For your search strategy  use the Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT to combine your keywords and to retrieve more relevant results.

  • For example: asthma (will retrieve all the articles that somewhere mention this word. You will get a huge number of hits.) asthma AND children (will retrieve articles that contain both these words. You will get a smaller number of hits than above.)
  • teens OR teenagers OR youth (will retrieve articles that contain either teens or teenagers or youth You can expect to get a large number of results).
  • teamwork NOT conflict (will retrieve articles that contain the word teamwork but not the word conflict)

Before you start searching for resources on your topic - think. What type of material (information) do you need to complete your research project?

  • scholarly/ academic or popular sources?
  • current or older information?
  • general background information on a topic or in-depth information?
  • statistics
  • primary or secondary sources?

Your instructor will usually tell you what sources are appropriate and might ask you to use a variety of sources, ranging from books, scholarly journal articles (in print or in online research databases), government reports, and newspaper articles to scholarly websites.


If you need a short introduction to a topic, a general overview of the topic, or definitions of terms check for encyclopedias and dictionaries in the Library Catalogue . You can also find links to online encyclopedias and dictionaries in our Subject Guides .

Search the library catalogue to find books, government reports, or videos. If you need help with searching the Library Catalogue click on one of the following links:

Find Videos
Find Reserves

Request a Non-Kwantlen Video, Book or Journal Article
My Library Account

You might also want to search other library catalogues of British Columbia and Canadian libraries , or illume, the internet catalogue of BC public and academic libraries.

Be sure you know what type of article you are looking for. The Subject Guides will provide the names of the best databases to search in your subject area. Remember, it is often necessary to search more than one database to find the best articles on your topic.

  • Not sure whether the Library has a journal in print or full-text online? Go to the Journal Titles database and search by the journal name.
  • Need help finding articles?  Try our step by step Finding Articles guide.

Use this checklist to evaluate your sources:

  • Is the source relevant to your topic?
  • Is the date of publication appropriate?
  • What are the author's qualifications, including educational background, past writings, research history?
  • What is the author's purpose in writing: to inform? to persuade?
  • Is the information fact, opinion, or perhaps propaganda? (Facts can usually be verified)
  • Are the author's conclusions or facts supported with references? Are there footnotes or a bibliography?
  • Is the work primary or secondary in nature; popular or scholarly?
  • How do critical reviews rate the work?
  • Who is the publisher? Do you know anything about the publisher's reputation?

Not sure how to read academic books or journal articles? Try this tutorial for help.

The library collection has many resources to help you with note taking , reading academic books , essay writing , report writing or how to give a presentation .

Also, check Kwantlen's Virtual Writing Centre or visit the Learning Centre on your campus if you need additional help.

One essential part of a research paper is the bibliography or reference list . Remember, when writing a research paper, it is required that you properly credit or cite all sources used. If you do not cite your sources, you are plagiarizing the work of others - a serious academic offense and a violation of the university regulations!

Always check with your instructor to ensure you are using the correct citation style.