Skip to main content

SHB ENG276: Resources for literary analysis and criticism: Web sites

Is it a database or a website?

Libraries purchase databases which index journal articles and often provide full-text copies of those articles.  Although purchased databases are accessed through the internet, they are not "internet sources" or "websites."  Instead, think of these sources as products designed to facilitate academic research.   Because they are purchased, they are not freely available to the public.

Sources other than licensed databases are freely available via Google or other search engines. Publishing information on the Internet is relatively simple and cheap, which, unfortunately, makes it vulnerable to abuse.  Like any information source, Internet sites need to be carefully evaluated for academic use, using the criteria in the box below.

The library web page also offers a list of Recommended Sites (see box on right) for a wide variety of subjects.

Essential questions

Every message has a reason and the job of the researcher is to select the information that is most appropriate for an academic or educational purpose.  The questions below will help you choose the best information for your research papers. 

Authority: the "WHO?"

  • What are the author's qualifications?
  • Does s/he cite sources?
  • Does s/he offer an opinionated or balanced perspective?
  • Does the information fit with what you know about your topic? 

Format: the "What?"

  • Is the source appropriate for the assignment?
    • What types of sources are required?
    • What types of sources are prohibited?
  • Does the source help answer your research question?

  Dates: the "WHEN?"

  •  When was the source originally published?
  •  When was the source last updated?
  •  If the source is a revised edition, can you tell how much of it was revised or was it just republished?

Published: the "Where?"

  • Is the publisher known for quality and/or scholarly publications? Is the journal peer-viewed?
  • Commercial, trade, institutional, other? What is the potential bias of the publisher?

Purpose: the "WHY?"

  • Can you determine why the source was written?
    •  Explain?
    •  Persuade?
    •  Inform?
    •  Entertain?
  • Who is the audience for this source?
  •  If the source is biased, can you find another source to balance the perspective?

Literary sites

Handy Links