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English Research: Reviews & Criticism

Starting Points: Databases

Reviews v. Criticism


  • Generally written by a scholar or expert
  • Found in scholarly sources like journals or books
  • Intended audience is experts or scholars
  • Are generally longer in length
  • Often focuses on one aspect or theme of a work and grounded in a particular school of thought

To find criticism and critical sources, use the resources in either the Articles & Journals or Primary & Secondary Literature tabs.

Criticism/Critical Theory Reference


  • Can be written by anyone
  • Usually found in popular press sources
  • Intended audience is the general public
  • Are generally shorter in length
  • Often, but not always, written soon after a release or opening and therefore more or less contemporary to the work

To find reviews, include "reviews" as a subject term in your search, choose "reviews" under content type, or use the primary literature resources in the Primary and Secondary Literature tab.

Search Tips

Boolean Operators

Boolean Operators link your keywords together to get better results. The operators are AND, OR, and NOT.


Returns results with all of the terms included. Use "AND" for concepts that all need to be present. For example: "Science Fiction" AND "ecology"


Returns results with one of the terms included. Use "OR" to link synonyms or similar keywords to expand your results. For example: "Science Fiction" AND ("Ecology" OR "environmental studies")


Excludes terms from your results. Use "NOT" to eliminate things that might be related to your topic but which you aren't interested in. For example: "Science Fiction" AND ("Ecology" OR "environmental studies") NOT "film"

Punctuation & Symbols

"Quotation Marks"

Quotation marks tell search tools that you want your results to have your terms together and in that order. For example: searching science fiction would return results that have "science" and "fiction" anywhere in any order, but searching "science fiction" would return results that have the exact phrase "science fiction" somewhere within.


Parentheses tell search tools what order to read your query in. For example, in our search "Science Fiction" AND ("Ecology" OR "environmental studies") the parentheses indicate that the items we want to be connected by the OR are ecology and environmental studies. Without them, search tools read left to right and perform the operations in whatever order they appear.


Asterisks stand in for multiple characters. This is called truncation For example, environm* will yeild environment, environmentalism, environmental...

Pro Tip: Look for a menu called "help" or "search tips" for database-specific syntax and tips. 

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