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How to Research Literature Topics

A guide to finding sources for literature papers at Valencia libraries.


This guide contains tips on finding different types of articles for a research paper on literature.

Five Types of Literature Articles

Be able to identify these types of articles you will see while researching a work of literature. The first two are usually most helpful for college research.

Literary Criticism

In-depth analysis of a work or works of literature. Literary Criticism articles are written by experts and published either in scholarly journals or in books. They tend to be lengthy, and focus on specific details about the work. They are available by searching in library databases or in books from the Library Catalog.


Information about the life of the author. Short biographies can be published in magazines and encyclopedias. Full-length biographies can be an entire book. Find brief biographies by searching in library databases. Find full-length biographies by searching in books from the Library Catalog. Some assignments specifically require that you use biographical information and some assignments specifically exclude these types of articles, so read your assignment carefully!

Plot Summaries

Plot summaries are overviews of the main events and characters in a work of literature. They do not analyze the details in depth as literary criticisms do. Plot summaries can be found in encyclopedias, which you can access from the library databases, and on web sites such as

Book Reviews

Book reviews are brief articles that give a reader's opinion and recommendation about a book. They rarely give in-depth analysis and are generally not helpful for college research.


Bibliographies are lists of literary works that have something in common. They might be lists of works by a single author, or lists of works that fit into a certain style, genre or theme.

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