Most importantly, start your research early. Most of the books and some of the scholarly journals in the Library are print books and can be checked out; you can recall a book, but it may take a week before it is available for you.
Many students, as well as scholars who are learning about a new topic, begin their research by reading short, overview-type articles found in reference books. Articles in reference books frequently have brief bibliographies pointing to what the author believes to be the best books on the topic for beginning further research. Note: Some information may be found on the Internet, but reference books are edited by, and have articles by, experts on the topic. Most books of the last 25 years (or more) are not available in their entirety, or at all, in Google Books or similar databases due to copyright restrictions.
Whether you do further research by starting with books or with journal articles depends partly on how much time and interest you have in the topic. Books obviously go into more depth on a topic and are useful for getting a sustained, coherent view or argument about an important aspect of a writer's work; they also have extensive bibliographies which can be used for further consultation. Articles are shorter and less time-consuming, but are sometimes so narrowly focused that you don't have enough context to fully understand the author's argument. Try to consult a combination of the two.
Each book owned by the UCSD Library is listed in Roger by its title, its author, and one or more subject descriptors, which allow you to find all of the books on a topic without the hit-or-miss approach that keyword searching relies on.
Books about a particular writer and his or her work are listed under the person's name, last name first. Most books of criticism use the phrase "Criticism and Interpretation" after the author's name. (Important: Before typing the name, change the term "Keyword" to "Subject.") Examples:
For extremely popular and/or prolific authors, there may be a large number of these "sub-headings," for example to identify books of criticism on a particular book, or focused on a particular character, or on a particular aspect of the author's work. Examples:
SUBJECT: Rowling, J.K.--Philosophy
SUBJECT: Rowling, J.K.--Religion
BROADER SUBJECTS. If you do not find any, or enough, books about your author (or if they're checked out), consider looking for books on the broader subject Young Adult [not "Adolescent"] Literature. Particularly valuable is the descriptor Young Adult Literature--American--History and Criticism; there are currently 22 books with this heading; use "English" rather than "American" for books that might include a discussion of Rowling or other British YA writers.
The three databases discussed below can be entered by clicking on the titles; also, all Library databases can be found from the Library's website by hovering over the "Research Tools" tab in the light blue row of tabs and clicking on "Databases A-Z."
LITERATURE RESOURCE CENTER. A huge database containing biographical information, literary criticism, reviews and news about writers from all periods of time and all parts of the world. Use the search box at the top of the screen to search for an author or a specific title. Look here for the results page for Lowis Lowry.
Notice that The Giver is one of the three red links listed in the top box, as it is one of the most popular searches about Lowry. Notice that you could also limit the search to The Giver from the second box on the right column, "Limit Search by Subject." Also notice the top box on the right column, which categorizes all the articles about Lowry into literary criticism, biography, topic and work overviews, reviews and news, primary sources, and multimedia. The distinction between "literary criticism" and "reviews" is often very thin; original "reviews" of the book may have interesting and valuable "criticism" even if they are not published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals.
MLA INTERNATIONAL BIBLIOGRAPHY. The MLA International Bibliography is the most comprehensive index to scholarly literature in the fields of literature, linguistics, and folklore of articles, books, book chapters, dissertations, and selected websites published throughout the world. (Literature Resource Center publishes only what it is able to obtain copyright permission for.) The MLAIB itself does not contain full content of articles or books, but the majority of citations are accompanied by links which will connect you to other databases the Library subscribes to or links to Roger if we have only the print format of the item and to the Melvyl catalog, which combines the catalogs of all 10 UC campus libraries.
Sample Searches in MLAIB
Search Example #1. Because your assignment involves studying the work of a particular author(s), using your author's name as a Subject is a common search strategy in MLAIB. Type your author's name in the top search box, and change "anywhere" to "subject," then click Search. For example, "Yep, Laurence" as Subject currently results in 17 citations. The first citation is to an article in the journal The Lion and the Unicorn; click on the orange UC eLinks icon and the full text of the article will appear in the database Project Muse. The fourth citation is to a book, Literary Gestures. Click the orange icon, then click on "Roger," and you'll find that UCSD has both print and digital formats for this book. The tenth citation is to an article in the journal MELUS. Click on the orange icon, and the full text will appear from the database JSTOR. Similarly, the twelfth citation's link will lead to the full text of the article from the database SpringerLink and the thirteenth citation's link will lead to a PDF file for the article in the ProQuest group of databases. However, citation six is for a book that UCSD does not have; but clicking on the Melvyl link will show that it is available at UCLA and you can then click on the orange "Request" button to have a PDF of the article sent to you. Numbers 8 and 17 are citations to dissertations, which the Library can't obtain in time for your assignments. The link below the citations to "Preview" will allow you to see a small portion of the dissertation only.
Search Example #2. As you might imagine, the number of articles about J.K. Rowling is enormous; currently there are 675!. In this case, it is necessary to narrow your search by adding terms in the second line of box(es) relating to the aspect of the Harry Potter book(s) you are interested in. For example, adding "fairly tale" to the second line and leaving the search at "anywhere" results in 5 citations. Adding "witch" OR "wizard" in the two boxes of the second line results 45 citations. Adding "sexuality" OR "gender" in the two boxes of the second line will result in 23 citations.
Search Example #3. For some lesser-studied authors, there may be very few or even no articles at all indexed in MLAIB. In this case, you may need to try to find articles on a topic that might include references to your author or at least give you background information that you can apply to your author. For example, there are currently only two citations for the author Pam Munoz as a subject. But a search combining "Young Adult Literature" as a subject (first row) and "Mexican" OR "Chican*" in the two boxes of the second line results in 7 citations. (The asterisk truncates the term in order to get either Chicana or Chicano.)
ERIC (Education Resources Information Center). ERIC is the principal database for articles relating to the field of education. Since classes on children's and young adult literature are frequently offered in departments and schools of education, many articles are published on YA authors, illustrators, and themes in journals from this discipline. The format of the ERIC database is the same as that for MLAIB: simply enter your author's name in the top search box, change "Anywhere" to "Subject," and click search. As of April 19, 2016, there are 6 articles on Craighead, 3 on Taylor, 11 on Yep, 37 on Lowry, 13 on Sachar, 6 on Creech, 6 on Munoz Ryan, and 31 on Rowling. As with MLAIB, clicking on the orange UC eLinks icon will take you to any sources the Library has for the full text of the article, or to Roger or Melvyl to see if we have print or digital copies of books that are included in your citation results.
Note: The Reference Collection is located on Geisel 2 West. There is also a Reference Assistance Desk (RAD) adjacent to it where help is available in finding these books or other books, articles, and online resources relevant to your topic.
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. 2nd edition. Ed. Jack Zipes. Oxford University Press, 2006. One of the most authoritative publishers of reference books is Oxford University Press. This encyclopedia has articles on individual authors, illustrators, genres, themes, and an excellent overview of Young Adult Literature. For an even broader range of articles, use the combined Oxford Reference database, which includes over 350 cross-searchable reference books. A search in it for "Rites of Passage" will result in articles about this topic from a variety of humanities and social science reference books.
Hahn, David. The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature. Second Edition. Oxford University Press, 2015. PRINT BOOK: Reference Collection PN 1008.5 .H34 2015 Over 3500 articles on authors, illustrators, genres, themes, etc. The 1st edition is available for check-out, but its age (1984) makes it un-useful for researching many authors, such as Rowling.
The Continuum Encyclopedia of Young Adult Literature. Ed. Bernice Cullinan, Bonnie Kunzel, and Deborah Wooten. New York: Continuum, 2005. PRINT BOOK: Reference Collection PN 1008.5 .C67 2005
St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers. 2nd edition. Detroit: St. James Press, 1999. PRINT BOOK: Reference Collection PN 1009 .A1 T95 1999
Writers for Young Adults. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1997. Clicking the link will take you into the Literature Resource Center database (described in the middle column).
Lynn, Ruth Nadelman. Fantasy Literature for Children and Young Adults: A Comprehensive Guide. 5th edition. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2005. PRINT BOOK: Reference Collection PN 1037 .L97 2005
Trupe, Alice. Thematic Guide to Young Adult Literature. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006. PRINT BOOK: Geisel 7th floor PS 374 .Y57 T89 2--6
Booklist's 1000 Best Young Adult Books Since 2000. Ed. Gillian Engberg and Ian Chapman. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2014. Short summaries of major YA books of the 21st Century in fiction, graphic fiction, and nonfiction.