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This guide lists key sources of information for English Language and Literature that are available for Kwantlen users. Click on the tabs for different types of sources and useful research tips.

Start your research

Research Process flow chart - shows a diagram going from reference material to newspapers to books and then to academic articles

Image from: 

Having trouble coming up with a topic for your paper? Have a topic, but need a more focused approach? Start here:

Developing a Research Question

  • Creating Research Questions slides by Bill Badke, Trinity Western University  ("Research is not a compilation exercise but an opportunity to address an issue or solve a problem.")


MLA Citation:
Brinkerhoff, Celia. "Activity: Which Topic is Narrower?" Doing Research: A Student's Guide to Finding and Using the Best Sources, KPU Library, 2019, . Used with permission.

Take time to think about your topic. You will need to break your topic down into keywords to search for resources.

  • Analyze your topic for key concepts to use as search terms (keywords).
  • Identify synonyms for your terms, related terms and spelling variations (e.g. marihuana, marijuana, cannabis )
  • Use the Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT to combine your keywords and to retrieve more relevant enhance your search strategy
  • Focus on key concepts. Don't do a search using a question or a phrase. 

Tutorial:  Finding Keywords from Research questions 

Pulling keywords from research questions or thesis statements:

Example: The impact of sea level rise due to climate change on human rights of people living in coastal areas in Asia

Your turn:  Labeling policy for genetically modified foods in Canada should be mandatory.  Which terms are key concepts, and which one should not be used when searching in databases?

MLA citation:
Brinkerhoff, Celia. "Activity: Focus on the Keywords of a Research Question." Doing Research: A Student's Guide to Finding and Using the Best Sources, KPU Library, 2019,
(Used under CC-BY 4.0 International licence.)

To find background information and context for your topics, use encyclopedias and books. They provide excellent overview of your topic.

Find overview essays:

Find books and e-books:

  • Library Catalogue - search for books and media. Excellent overview books: Opposing Viewpoints book series covers current topics.
  • Summon - search entire Library collection (books, media, journal and newspaper articles, book reviews, etc.)

Find journal articles using Library subscription databases.

How do I know which database to use?

  • The Library Subject Guides will provide the names of the best databases to search in your subject area. It is often necessary to search more than one database to find the best articles on your topic.
  • Otherwise, click on Browse Databases by Subject  to choose the most relevant database.

I have a citation (or, I know exactly what article I want).  How do I find the article? 

  • See if KPU has access to the journal where the articles is published.  Search by the name of the Journal on the Journal Titles page.