Western Libraries

ENGL 3227E Shakespeare


Welcome and Introduction

This guide outlines basic research strategies for English 3227E:  Shakespeare.  Use this guide in order to learn how to find reference sources, books and articles using the library website.

Research Process

1.)  Understand your research topic

Sample topic:  Explore the role of imagination in Shakespeare's plays.

Consider key concepts that you wish to explore.  In this case, the key concept is the idea of imagination; however, you should think carefully about the idea of imagination and brainstorm related terms and concepts that might assist your research process.

imagination:  flow chart with related terms

2.)  Re-read the text(s), paying particular attention to key passages relating to your research topic.  This step is very important!

3.)  Consult secondary sources, such as reference sources, books and articles.  Secondary sources will further your understanding of the text.

To find secondary sources, go to the Western Libraries website:  www.lib.uwo.ca

Western Libraries site

To access electronic sources off-campus, log in to "Off-Campus Access" before you start your research.

Off-Campus Access

Consulting Reference Sources

Reference sources (dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.) provide researchers with integral background information about a text or author. Go to the library website (www.lib.uwo.ca) and click on the reference tab in order to find online or print reference sources.

Here is a list of some helpful reference sources:

Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (online)

The New Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare (print)

The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Comedy (print)

The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Tragedy (print)

Literature Criticism Online (online)

Shakespearean Criticism (print)

The Shakespeare Encyclopedia (print; at Huron & King's)

Internet Shakespeare Editions (online)

Finding Books

Books are often a good starting point because they offer a general examination of a given topic or issue.  To find electronic and print books at Western Libraries, use our catalogue:

Catalogue search hamlet
Search for books about a topic using the keyword search.  *To find books about Hamlet, enter the play's title as a "keyword."  To find copies of Hamlet, enter the play's title as a "title."

Catalogue record hamlet

Find the library where this book is located under "Location.'  "DBW stack" means that this title is at Weldon library.  According to the status (under "Currently") the book is not checked out.  The "Call Number" (PR678.T7F54 2011) helps you locate the book on the shelf.

Finding Articles

You can find academic journal articles using specialized databases.  Like a general search engine (think Google) databases help you locate information.  However, library databases are intended to help you find scholarly articles written by academics.  (Uncertain about scholarly sources?  Visit this tutorial or the Weldon Research Guide about Scholarly Journals.)

To find articles, consult one of the following databases:

MLA International Bibliography


Literature Online

World Shakespeare Bibliography Online

Find more databases in the English Program Guide.

MLA Advanced Search

*Most databases have an "Advanced Search" option.  Use this instead of a "Basic Search" for more concise results.

When you use databases, return to your 1.) key concepts and 2.) search terms.  Continue to think about the idea of imagination and develop words or phrases that may be useful when you are searching the library catalogue or databases. 

As your search progresses, you might discover new search terms or you might begin to think about your topic a little differently.  For instance, when I searched the MLA International Bibliography for articles about Shakespeare and imagination I discovered that the role of imagination in Shakespearean plays is multifaceted and has various aspects.  Some articles explored the idea of "creative imagination," "historical imagination,' "romantic imagination," etc.  In the future, I might search for articles relating to specifically to the idea of "romantic imagination."  

Various ways of thinking about imagination

Style Guides and Citing

Avoid plagarism!   Citation and style guides help you properly credit secondary sources. 

Visit the Western Libraries Style Guides page for more information about specific citation styles (eg. MLA).

Interlibrary Loans / RACER

RACER is an online Interlibrary Loan system used to search for material and place requests. To access RACER you must have an account. To create your account, you need to register. If you have already registered, simply login. Please keep in mind that your University ID number is used as your login and your password is created by you.