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), or view the printed guide below.
Developing a search strategy - choosing keywords and synonyms
Key electronic resources
Finding primary resources
Here is a selection of the most generally useful sources for finding primary texts for your dissertation. A full list of electronic resources, including more collections of primary texts, can be found on the English Databases page in the Library Catalogue.
- Historical texts
Historic texts contains the digital fascimiles for every work included in EEBO, ECCO and the British Library's Nineteenth Century digitised books.
- LION - Literature Online
LION contains the full-text works of English and American poetry, drama and prose, from the 8th to the 21st Century, as well as full-text literature journals, and other key criticism and reference resources.
- 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. A full list can be found on the English Databases page in the Library Catalogue.
- LION - Literature Online
LION contains full-text literature journals, and other key criticism and reference resources as well as the full-text works of English and American poetry, drama and prose.
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.
- Web of Science
Web of Science is an interdisciplinary online index which includes the Arts and Humanities Citation Index with bibliographic citations for journals. Web of Science does not always 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.
- Cambridge Companions Online
This database contains e-books of titles in the Cambridge Companions and Shakespeare Survey series.
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
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.
Once you have pressed 'play' click on the icon the bottom right hand of the video window to view the video fullscreen.
How to access full text using WebBridge