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English Literature


Articles are smaller in scope than books and can therefore focus on more particular aspects of a given topic. Since articles are faster to produce and publish, the most up-to-date research often appears in this form.

Articles in scholarly journals are peer-reviewed—that is to say, they have gone through an anonymous formal vetting and editing process—whereas articles in magazines or newspapers are accepted at the discretion of a single editor. In general, the most nuanced and thoroughly researched articles on literary topics are found in scholarly journals: these are what you should most often cite in research essays in the English Department.

Key Literature Indexes and Databases

This is the standard bibliography for scholarly writing on literature, linguistics, drama, folklore, etc. Indexes over 4,000 international journals, as well as monographs, dissertations, and other publications.
Searchable database of more than 350,000 works of English and American poetry, drama, and prose. Also indexes criticism from The Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (ABELL) and MLA International Bibliography (MLAIB), and includes the full text of 104 specialist literature journals.
The LRC is a complete literature reference database rich in biographical, bibliographical, and critical content.
A collection of peer-reviewed electronic journals in the arts, humanities, fine arts, social sciences and mathematics.
An archival collection of journal articles that includes core titles in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences from the first volume to within 2-5 years of the current volume. In addition to being an archive, JSTOR offers current access to some titles from various publishers.

Other Relevant Databases

Abstracts of English Studies
 N2 .A16 (1958 - 1991) in Compact Storage
Contains summaries of journal articles and books.
Part of Web of Science Core Collection. Click "Editions" to limit your search to Arts and Humanities Citation Index.
Tracks the citation of scholarly articles. Includes citation in books, but not citation of books. While for the humanities it is an imperfect tool for gauging influence of scholarly work, it can be used to grasp the shape of debates or discussions that are not easily described by topic or author.
C19: The Nineteenth Century Index
Combining several established indexes, C19 is a comprehensive source for discovering nineteenth-century books, periodicals, official documents, newspapers, archives and reference material
Indexes articles published in and about Canada.
Print holdings: 1920 - 1998: Check Omni
An interdisciplinary index to over 400 English and French Canadian periodicals indexed by author and subject.
Essay and General Literature Index
AI3 .E7 (1900-2011)  in Compact Storage
An author and subject index to essays and articles.
Covers all aspects of European medieval studies from 450 to 1500.
Indexes articles and reviews from over 550 scholarly journals. 
Bibliography of all manuscripts and editions of John Milton's works and all studies and critical statements concerning his life and works.
Online from 1921, YW is the qualitative narrative bibliographical review of scholarly work on English language and literatures written in English.

Why use an index?

Use an article index to find journal articles on your topic, as well as criticism and other materials related to literature. 

Some will contain the full text of journals and those that don't usually provide links to the full text if it is available via other databases in our collection.

Evaluate Articles

Articles are important in your research as they contain the most-up-to-date research in a given field and often focus on a particular aspect of a topic.

But not all journal articles will be useful for your essay so you will need to evaluate before you use them. 

Consult our guide, Distinguishing Scholarly from Non Scholarly Periodicals, to discover the difference.



  • Coverage form 1926 onwards
  • Includes journal articles, books, book chapters, conference proceedings, theses...
  • International in scope
  • Includes some full text

Problems with MLA

  • Thematic subject headings and titles of literary works not used for indexing items from 1921 to 1980
  • Does not index book reviews
  • MLA indexes author by given name rather than psseudonym, e.g. C L Dodgson instead of Lewis Carroll
  • Works focused on classical Greek and Latin literatures, the Bible or Koran are excluded except if they relate to other literature or language topics


  • Coverage of English language literatures from 1892 onwards
  • Better coverage of English language literature from 1892-1955
  • Includes journal articles, books book chapters, theses, book reviews, essays...
  • Indexes pseudonyms and authors given name

Problems with ABELL

  • Prior to 2001, no indexing of themes or titles of literary works
  • Does not include education and pedogogical subjects
  • No journal locator links

MLA is a more efficient resource to search for post 1980 publications. It is recommended that one search both MLA and ABELL to get the bulk of scholarship since 1921 since each database includes works omitted from the other.