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Comparative Literature: Getting started

Excellent resource -- check it out!

A great resource for everybody:

The Elements of Library Research: What Every Student Needs to Know  


by Marie W. George


 SML, Starr Main Reference Room (Non-Circulating)

Z710 .G44X 2008 (LC)

Interesting guide for graduate and undergraduate students

Please consult this very interesting Web guide.  It will give you step by step instructions on the methodology of critical writing in academia at various academic levels:

Determine what you are looking for

It is very important to establish what kind of information you are looking for when you are writing a  research paper.  Here are few important tips to help you:


1. If you are not clear about your topic assignment,  consult your professor for guidelines or for additional information.


2. If you are not sure how to start with your paper, contact your librarian about guidebooks on researching and writing about French literature. You can make a "reference appointment" to discus in detail your research needs and search strategy. 


You can also follow this guide, especially the section of this guide devoted to basic search strategy in 10 steps



*** Note this basic difference between primary and secondary sources:

Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later.


A work of fiction (novel, play, or poem) is considered as a primary source since it can be used as historical markers.  As you know, some novels even have been known to have definitive descriptions of historical events.  Primary sources are characterized by their content, regardless of whether they are available in original format, in microfilm/microfiche, in digital format, or in published format.


For more information on using primary sources for your research paper, follow this link.

Secondary sources interpret and analyze primary sources. Because they are often written significantly after events by parties not directly involved but who have special expertise, they may provide historical context or critical perspectives.

Secondary sources routinely include pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources.  Depending on the subject, newspaper and journal articles can fall into both categories.  Good secondary sources use primary sources to compile their information.  Examples of secondary sources are encyclopedias, handbooks, guides, textbooks, and many (if not most) non-fiction books and articles.