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Dissertation support

Choosing and refining your topic

Refresh your memory of the first dissertation training session with Rochelle Sibley's powerpoint slides which will remind you how to:

  • Focus your topic
  • Judge the scope of your project
  • Prepare a dissertation proposal and project outline
  • Generate a dissertation title

Any questions? Contact Rochelle at Rochelle dot Sibley at warwick dot ac dot uk.

Developing your search strategy

You need to be careful to choose the best search terms and combine them effectively, to be sure you will find the most useful literature on your topic.

See our short video guide to doing this (right).

Key electronic resources

Finding primary resources

Here is a selection of the most generally useful sources for finding primary texts for your dissertation. See the full list of electronic resources, including more collections of primary texts in the Library Catalogue.

  • Gale Primary Sources
    This platform contains the digitised copies of every work included in Early English Books Online (EEBO), Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), along with a wide range of newspaper and periodical archives from the seventeenth century onwards.
  • ProQuest One Literature
    ProQuest One Literature contains more than 500,000 primary works – including rare and obscure texts, multiple versions, and non-traditional sources like comics, theatre performances, and author readings.
  • Past Masters Past Masters is a full-text collection of primary source materials from many major authors.

Finding critical works

Here is a selection of the most relevant sources for finding critical works relating to your dissertation topic. See the full list in the Library Catalogue.

  • ProQuest One Literature
    ProQuest One Literature contains over 3 million literature citations from thousands of journals, monographs, dissertations.
  • MLA
    The most comprehensive index in English Studies for books, conference proceedings, and articles from periodicals. MLA does not offer full text access. See the video on the right hand side of this page on how to use WebBridge to access the full text.
  • Project Muse
    E- journal platform offering access to scholarly titles.
    JSTOR is a digital archive of academic journals.
    An interdisciplinary resource, SCOPUS is the largest abstract and citation database, containing both peer-reviewed research literature and quality web sources.
  • Cambridge Companions Online
    This database contains e-books of the introductory edited companions in the Cambridge Companions and Shakespeare Survey series.
  • Oxford Handbooks
    Edited collections of review essays that evaluate the current thinking on a range of major topics, and make an original argument about the future direction of the debate.

Managing your references

As you soon as you start searching for resources you need to think how to record and store references you are finding. There are several ways to organise your references. Whichever one you choose, it will make it much easier to compile your references list when you finish your dissertation.


Reference management software enables you to

  • import, store and organise citation data from library databases and catalogues in one place
  • it will also allow you to automatically insert and format your citations and bibliography in your work as you write

You could think about using EndNote Online or Mendeley. Follow these links to find out more about using EndNote Online for your dissertation and sign up for workshops.


Another option for managing your references is to store the records in a file or on index cards. You could:

  • print or save the first page of an article or photocopy the copyright page of books
  • store these alphabetically or by subject in a file, either electronically or in print.

Once you are ready to compile your references list you will have all the information to hand.


Some people store the data they need in a spreadsheet, list or table. You might find MS Office Excel or Access can help you with this.

Many library catalogues and subject databases will have an option to Export or Save, which allows you to select the references you are interested in based on your search results and save them as a text file or email them to yourself.

Search strategy

Getting to the full text

How to access full text using WebBridge.