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CLT/ENG177: Epic Worlds: Starting Your Research

Spring 2016, C. Davis

Using MLA Bibliography

Some MLA search techniques that are useful: 

  • On the main search screen, you can limit your search to articles in English or by publication type.
  • Do not limit to Linked Full Text!  You’d be excluding many things from your search that are available by clicking on SCLinks. 
  • You can Select a Field from the search screen to limit in different ways.  This is useful but be careful that you’re using these searches correctly (for example, “Author” searches look for the author of the scholarly criticism, not the author of the work being discussed). 
  • Look for Subject Terms in the citation; these can provide useful ways to search on a theme or topic.  You can also use the Thesaurus feature in the upper left-hand corner of the screen to identify the right Subject Term. 
  • The Names as Subject feature can be used to limit your search by the author of the work being discussed.  

Most book chapters are indexed in MLA, but you may find some more by searching the Five College Library Catalog.  Try a keyword search such as:  

“Epic literature” Africa*

"Epic poetry"

or the name of the work (Mabinogian, Gilgamesh, Mahabharata)

Remember that you may find some ebooks in the catalog, as well as books in the other Five College Libraries which you can request for delivery to Smith.

RefWorks and Zotero are useful tools for managing your research and creating bibliographies.  They work seamlessly with MLA.

How do I find it?

If you find a citation in your searching and want to get a copy of the item, here are some steps to follow:


  1. Look up the book by title, author or keywords in the Five College Library Catalog.  You can also use the "Discover" search box on the Libraries home page, which searches the Five College catalog along with some of the Libraries' database subscriptions.  
  2. If the book is held by the Smith Libraries (SC), check for availability, write down the call number and retrieve the book from the library that has it (ask for assistance if you are not sure how to do that!).  Check it out with your ID card at the circulation desk. 
  3. If the book is held by another Five College library, use the "Retrieve Item" function to request it.  It will be delivered to Neilson Library and held for you, usually within a few days.  
  4. If none of the Five College libraries have it, you can request it through Interlibrary Loan (  You need to set up a separate account in the system, but this is easy to do and you can use the account for your entire time at Smith.  


  1. Use the Journal Finder on the Libraries home page to look up the title of the publication (not the title of the article!). 
  2. Journal Finder will show whether we have an online source for the publication, and give you a link to it.  
  3. If no online source is available, Journal Finder will indicate whether any of the Five College libraries has a print copy.  
  4. If no Five College library has it, you can request the article through Interlibrary Loan (see step 4 above).  


When searching in library databases you may see the button labeled "SCLinks".  This button does the same thing as the steps above in a quick and easy way.  


Reference Sources

Reference sources can be used for background on your topic, such as historical context or an overview of a genre.  These can be found online or in the reference section of Neilson Library.