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ENGL 100: Novel, Nation, Self

For Prof. Arnab Chakladar - Fall 2023

Library Virtual Tour

If you'd prefer to get to know the library building and spaces before you arrive, take a look at this online library tour.

Beginning your research

What are the library stacks???!!!!

The stacks are the bookshelves that store the library’s print collection. At Carleton, we store our physical journals and books in the stacks. They are stored by call number and sorted into sections by subject. Our stacks are open, which means that anyone can browse them (and of course, check them out) when looking for resources.

What is a call number?

The Library of Congress (LOC, or LC) number system is a method for organizing a library’s resources by subject matter. Like the Dewey Decimal system, it is designed to make it easier to find books and other physical materials. The LOC system uses letters and numbers to create call numbers, which are a unique combination that represents a particular book, DVD, journal, etc. For example, the book “The Old Man and the Sea” has the call number PS3515.E37 O52 1996. “PS” indicates that the book is categorized in the LOC system as American literature and the rest of the call number helps you locate the book within the PS section. 

Source types


A source is anything from a book, journal article, newspaper article, blog, just to name a few. You will most likely use a variety of sources when writing a research paper. Sometimes professors will just say “source” as shorthand -- make sure you know what they’re talking about!

What is a monograph?

A monograph is an academic book written about a scholarly subject, often published by a University Press. It usually has one author (i.e. each chapter isn’t written by a different person), and it’s not a reprinted primary source or a piece of fiction or poetry.

Primary Sources

A primary source is an original work that scholars analyze in order to produce insight. These works can include correspondence, diaries, fiction/poetry, data sets, news media, phenomena, artwork, patents, artifacts, illustrations, manuscripts, and photographs. In the sciences, It can also include some peer-reviewed journal articles that report original research.

Secondary sources

Are the publications such as a monograph or peer-reviewed journal articles in which scholars present their analyses, insights, and claims. This can include works such as scholarly criticism, some peer-reviewed journal articles, or reviews of a text or scientific study. On occasion, things that were originally published as secondary sources can be analyzed by future scholars as primary artifacts about what scholarship was like at the time of the original publication. More examples below!

Reference source types

Reference Sources

Are also known as tertiary sources. In most cases, a reference source is a book or database that allows you to build context for a topic by offering overviews and definitions or descriptions of people, events and more. Most reference entries have short lists of books or other scholarly material that was used to create the overview/definition. They are very useful for beginning a research project because they contain quick facts and allow the reader to get acquainted with the vocabulary of a topic.

Check out Credo Reference below! It is a great starting point.


Encyclopedias provide general background information on a topic in a broad nature, and contain references to other related works. There are both general and topic specific encyclopedias.


Dictionaries contain information about words listed alphabetically. There are both general and specialized dictionaries.


Provide useful insight into the major themes of a particular academic field. Handbooks usually have longer overview essays with longer lists of sources than an Encyclopedia or Dictionary.


Elaborates on an already published book or general topic by providing the reader with a deeper understanding of concepts, themes, characters, places, and ideas. They are meant to be studied alongside other primary and secondary material on a particular topic.


A book of collected or assorted pieces of writing, such as essays, that are related by a common theme, authorship, or instructive purpose.


A published collection of writings written by one or multiple authors, such as poems, short stories, plays, songs, or excerpts that are from the same time period or are related by subject matter. 


Annual publications that are useful for searching for specific facts, statistics, people, places, events, and aspects of popular culture like sports or entertainment. 


Contain political, cultural, road, and/or thematic maps and can be organized based on a specific theme or geographic area.


An index contains a list of articles or other publications within a particular topic or discipline, with each entry containing full citation information. Scholarly databases are considered indexes, but there are some indexes in print as well.

Chronologies, timelines

Chronologies/timelines display the major milestones of an event or process. 


Organized lists of people/institutions and provide information on addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.


A published bibliography is a collection of highly specialized annotated bibliographies. Use these to get oriented to the current research on a topic. 

Book Reviews

These can appear in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, or in popular newspapers like the New York Times. They are usually short articles (1-3 pages) about a new book. The author summarizes the book and gives their opinion about how it fits into their scholarly field. These are not usually used as secondary sources.

Secondary sources

What is a peer-reviewed journal article?

It is a scholarly article that meets certain criteria set by a journal and has been read and approved by peer scholars. It presents original research, has been written for an audience of other experts, is often lengthy in nature, and has an extensive bibliography, evidence to mean that it has taken several years to write. You can find such articles in a periodical/journal.


 Also known as a persistent link, is a static hyperlink that gives you permanent access to a specific citation or a webpage. You can generate a permalink from Catalyst and some databases.