Literature and Writing Research Guide



LTWR Introduction

Literature and Writing Research

This site focuses on general resources for the CSUSM literary theory, rhetoric, and writing students as well as the General Education Writing (GEW) instructor community.

For more specific assistance, please contact Torie Quiñonez, Arts & Humanities Librarian.


Research Help is still available during remote instruction!

Email or chat your subject librarian using the contact information on the right of this page. We can provide remote research assistance via Zoom (which allows for screensharing), chat, email, and phone.  



LTWR Literature

Literature Research


To look for articles in journals, you will need to start with a research database. Check the Databases tab on the library home page and select the Literature subject limiter for the most appropriate available licensed resources. These provide full text or abstracts of articles from thousands of journals and other sources.

Some databases such as MLA do not offer full text of the articles. Use the Check SFX for Availability button to check our other resources for full text.



LTWR Writing

Writing Tools

While creative writing and poetry may not need research sources which literature scholars need, there are times when tools and resources are helpful.


To look for articles in journals, you will need to start with a research database. Check the Databases tab on the library home page and select the Literature subject limiter for the most appropriate available licensed resources. These provide full text or abstracts of articles from thousands of journals and other sources.

Some databases such as MLA do not offer full text of the articles. Use the Check SFX for Availability button to check our other resources for full text.


Not everything is available on the Internet, and as old-fashioned as it may seem, the best place to begin your research is in your library's collection -- Really! A lot of time and money is spent on collecting the best for your courses -- especially if you are feeling overwhelmed by the project. To search for books, you need to use a library catalog. Depending on how much time you have, you have a couple of options for extending your search.

CSUSM's Collection

Library Catalog
Search our local collection of about 250,000 books.

How to Search the Catalog
The simplest way to get started is by using the default KEYWORD search. Type in one or two words about your topic (examples are: rhetoric, creative writing, narratives) to begin your search.

Once you have a list of results (these are book and journal titles), click on likely titles to view the entire record.

For more precise searching, look at the SUBJECTS on items that meet your research needs and follow those links to find other works on your topic that don't necessarily use the same terminology that you did in the keyword search. An example is a broad keyword search on 'narrative writing', with 677 items returned on all types of narrative writing. But then you find the subject heading Narration (Rhetoric) with only 38 titles to examine and some of which did not return in the 'narrative writing' search.

Other Options in Books

Circuit (1-3 day delivery)
Search the collections of other San Diego area libraries -- about 3,000,000 books. Find and request books directly online; pick them up at our Library in 1-3 days.

WorldCat (5-10 day delivery)
Search the collections of libraries world-wide -- about 52,000,000 books. Find a book in this database, and fill-out an Interlibrary Loan delivery request. Books will be delivered to Library for pickup.  

Online Resources

Writing Center Sites

Full-text Literature Sites

Electronic Books and Technologies

Tutorials and Tools  



Citing Your Sources

As you write your papers in LTWR courses, you'll need to cite passages and ideas from the sources you've found. You may find the following sites useful to supplement Keys for Writers and the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.

Professional Resources

Literary Market Place
Listings for publishers, agents, manufacturers and other businesses associated with publishing. Free users have access to partial content of the full resource found in Library Reference at PN161 .L5

Writer's Market
Similar to LMP with focus on the writer, rather than publisher. Of special note are tips to novice and experienced professional writers and a glossary of terms used in the writing profession (See "encyclopedia" link.) (Full resource in Library Reference at PN161 .W83)

Organizations, Listervs and Blogs





LTWR Professional

Conferences, Journals, and More

The following is a selected list of professional resources for CSUSM courses in literature  such as scholarly conferences and calls for papers.

Related Pages:

CSUSM LTWR home page

CSUSM Writing Center

Online Lists

Some lists are more complete and up-to-date than others, but the following list provides links to the sites that have been most consistent in keeping their information updated or attempt to be comprehensive in their scope.

  • All provides a short list of conferences with direct links. There is also a longer list of past events--many conferences are offered either annually or less frequently, so you might want to look for an announcement of a tenative or proposed future date for a past conference.
  • Literature Conferences Worldwide offers the most extensive list of conferences, but the list can be overwhelming by simply being sorted by month, rather than focus of the conference. Keyword searching is available to locate specific interests.
  • English Literature and Languages Conferences Worldwide is focused on teaching English and TESOL. Keyword searching is available to locate specific interests.
  • Communication, Language and Literature Conferences of Interest does not link to current conferences, but offers information on recurring conferences, their focus and frequency.
  • Zuzu's Petals Literary Resource offers a mixed bag of information. The simplest way to find conferences or CFPs is to use the search function and select to only search the Zuzu's Petals pages.


Journal and book publishers can also host conferences or offer links to conferences as a service to the discipline.. Check the publisher's website who publishes materials on your focus.

Journal and Professional Publication Sources

Not everything is published on the Internet, although for some short-turnaround announcements, the internet may be the most likely place to look. Unfortunately, doing a search on literature and conferences using Google turned up about 1,840,000 hits--far too many to look through to find current listings.

A more effective means to locate conferences that would be suitable for your research would be to look at appropriate journals. They may be in paper or electronic format. Here are some titles to look at, but keep in mind other titles may carry an announcement of use to you:

Paper--Browsing the most recent issue of the journals listed here will provide both conference announcements and CFPs.

Chronicle of Higher Education (Periodicals L11 .C47, conferences listed in Gazette/Coming Events section)

Publications of the Modern Language Association of America(Periodicals PB6 .M6)

Writer's Chronicle (Periodicals PN101 .A88)


Using the Library Catalog, you can do a search on the GENRE "electronic journals--literature" to see the growing list of full-text journals available through our various databases. You may want to browse this list to see what is offered, or search the catalog for a specific journal title. A link will be offered to the journal to save you looking through all the databases to figure out where it is.

Once you are in a specific journal, you can type the word conference* (use the asterick to get conference or conferences) and any keywords that identify the specific focus. (For example, a search on just the search word conference* in MLA found over 6700 hits and they were on all types of conferences in different languages and offering different emphasis.)

Some databases such as MLA do not offer full text of the articles. Use the Check SFX for Availability button to check our other resources for full text for further information on the conference of interest.

Reading Today (Upcoming Events section) (found in Academic Search Premier)

Times Educational Supplement (Noticeboard section) (found in Academic Search Premier)

Free Fulltext Journals

  • Directory Of Open Access Journals freely-available full text online journals
  • Early Modern Literary Studies (note the conference dates are past, but could lead to conferences of interest that may be coming up with new dates.) Iowa State University-hosted site offers a section on CFPs as well as many full-text online journals
  • Writer Magazine (conferences of interest to writers in the West, find them through the Classified link)

Professional Organizations

Another focused resource besides journals is to look at the organizations that address your particular field of study. This will generally lead to a specific conference instead of lists of possible conferences. The following is a short list, for more, refer to the Encyclopedia of Associations (REF AS22 .E5. Vol. 3 has a list of associations sorted by subject area such as 'literature'.)

Calls for Papers (CFP)


General Guidelines Websites

While not all guidelines will be appropriate for all conferences or CFPs, reviewing these sites will help you think about what is important in your proposal and focus.



LTWR Thesis

Thesis Submission

There are guidelines, forms and deadlines available through the CSUSM website for several aspects of your thesis process. It is strongly recommended to examine each and question and discrepancies as deadlines, etc. may change and the information not be transmitted to all parties!

Master's Thesis, Project or Comprehensive Exam Information and Forms (CSUSM Graduate Studies)
The current deadlines, requirements and forms for your thesis are here.

Thesis Submission Guidelines (Library)
CSUSM has recently moved to electronic format theses, rather than print. Be sure to review these instructions as exceptions cannot be made.

CSUSM University Catalog
Individual disciplines may have additional requirements for your thesis. From the campus home page, select "Current Students" then look under "Academic Programs".

Guide to Preparing Dissertations and Theses

Dissertations and Theses are book-length studies based on original research and written in partial fulfillment of requirements for the doctoral (dissertations) or master's degree (thesis). They provide in-depth research on narrow topics, and are primarily used by graduate students and faculty.

The following are tools for developing a thesis or dissertation. For submitting a thesis to the CSUSM collection, please see The CSUSM Thesis Submission Guide.

Information on Dissertations

Be sure to check your discipline's manual of style found in the library reference collection. Many of the publishers offer additional helpful web sites. See the library page on citation manuals or visit these sites: 

APA for Students

Chicago Manual of Style

MLA (From Indiana University-South Bend as is for members only.)

How to Read an Electronic Dissertation (from their site "Creating an Electronic Dissertation")
Useful information from Virginia Tech on browsing and navigating online dissertations.

From the CSUSM Collection

Mauch, J.E. and Namgi, N. (2003). Guide to the Successful Thesis and Dissertation: A Handbook for Students and Faculty. 5th ed. New York: M. Dekker. (In Reference LB2369 .M377 2003).

Rudestam, K.E. and Newton, R.R. (2007). Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process. 3rd ed. Los Angeles: Sage.  (In Stacks LB2369 .R83 2007, 2nd edition from 1992 also available)

Locating CSUSM Theses

Browse theses completed by Cal State San Marcos graduate students.

REMEMBER! The thesis guide, written by Carmen Mitchell, CSUSM Institutional Repository Librarian, provides EVERYTHING you are required to do in order to successfully submit your thesis. Do NOT ignore these steps and adhere to any deadlines from this page or your department.

As you will be referring to this guide during your writing and submission process, it is recommended to bookmark


Borrowing dissertations is generally by request via Interlibrary Loan. If a local university (i.e., SDSU, UCSD, USD) owns the dissertation, use the Circuit for faster service. An additional option for a copy that you keep is to purchase an unbound copy through UMI (if the work was submitted to them.)

Interlibrary Loan
We can ask a university that owns a dissertation to lend us a copy. Note that not all universities lend copies of dissertations, while some lend only microfilm copies.

If you find the dissertation in the Circuit, you can request it online, and pick it up at our Library, sometimes within 24 hours. Excludes weekends and holidays.

UMI Dissertations Express
Order your own unbound copy from UMI's collection of over one million titles. You need to know the author and keywords from a specific title to locate the desired item.

Research Databases--Other Universities' T& D

For the most comprehensive search for dissertations, use a research database. None of the databases provide the full-text of the dissertation,so once you have all the information for a specific item (author, title, institution, etc.), you can request it through Interlibrary Loan.

Multi-disciplinary Collections

Dissertation and Theses
Dissertations and Theses Database includes digitized dissertations in a variety of subject areas including Art, Communications, Education, History, Linguistics, Literature, and Social Sciences.

WorldCat Dissertations
Index of published and unpublished dissertations from around the world. This database does not provide abstracts, but does provide subject headings.

Subject-specific Collections

America History and Life
US and Canadian history. Choose Advanced search. Under "Document Type" select "dissertation"

Art Full Text
Indexes over 550 journals covering a wide variety of the arts (film to fashion, classic to cutting edge, ancient to modern) from the US and around the world.

Historical Abstracts
World history except US and Canada. Choose Advanced search. In "Document Type" type "dissertation"

Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA)
Literature, humanities

Literature. Go to advanced search. Under Limit to: Document Type Phrase, choose "Dissertation Abstract."

Psychology. Under "Publication Type" choose "Dissertation Abstract."

Music. Go to advanced search. Under Limit to: Document Type, choose "Dissertation."

Social Services Abstracts
Indexes Dissertation Abstracts International: A. Try using the term "dissertation" with your topic keywords.

Sociological Abstracts
Indexes Dissertation Abstracts International: A Try using the term "dissertation" with your topic keywords.

Women's Studies International
Indexes both Dissertation Abstracts International A and B. Try using the term "dissertation" with your topic keywords.

Locating Local Universities' Theses

If the dissertation you are looking for was submitted at UCSD, SDSU, or USD, it is faster to order it through the Circuit than to do an Interlibrary Loan. For dissertations submitted at a University of California campus other than UCSD, you need to  order the item through Interlibrary Loan.

Use "word" search with "dissertation" and your topic terms.

Melvyl -- University of California
Under format select "dissertation."

Web-based Theses and Dissertations

Although a large number of theses and dissertations are only available in print through ILL or UMI, many newer dissertations are being published and made available on the Internet (in whole or part) through university repositories.

Multi-university collections

International Multi-University Collections (may not be in English)

Individual University Collections (Just a sample, there are many more!)

Commercially-provided access

Dissertations and Theses Database CSUSM Users only
A mix of full-text and abstracts for dissertations and theses from a variety of discplines.

Dissertation Express from UMI (formerly University Microfilms, Inc.)
Useful for a very surface skim of submitted dissertations. UMI is the largest commercial thesis and dissertation registery and provides this database for ordering unbound dissertations. The search results (limited to 40) provide minimal information as to title, author and institution and no abstract.

GEW Instruction

GEW Instruction

LTWR GEW Instruction

Getting Started

Useful Links for GEW Instructors:

Guide to GEW Library Instruction

Syllabus Guidelines  (at CSUSM Faculty Center)

Library Reserves/E-Res

Library reserves are a specialized, limited loan collection held at the Check Out Desk of the library (third floor or media is on the second floor) or available electronically. Electronically delivered material is served through a password-protected site linked through the library catalog, the course web page created by the librarian, or your WebCT course.

Reasons for placing material on reserve can be that there are large number of students researching the same topic and trying to access a limited number of print material that could otherwise be borrowed and taken from the library. Or the instructor has a single copy of a book, video or print article that everyone needs to read/view. Placing materials on reserve resolves the problems in getting more copies due to reproduction restrictions, copyright, or cost that can prevent an instructor from providing students with individual copies.

Material can be brought in hard copy and library staff will scan to PDF, or you can submit your own electronic files. Library materials can be placed on reserve as well, so that the one copy we own doesn't get checked out for a month when your students will be needing it. Be aware that processing or loading files will take some time and check with the staff for lead time needed. There are preset circulation limits of 2 hours, 1 day or 3 days--which circulation period is your choice. Electronically delivered material does not require circulation limits and can be accessed from anywhere with the correct password.

Since GEW has moved to a model of common readings for all sections, the librarian may select some materials for 'all GEW sections' reserve.

Full information on guidelines is on Managing your Library Reserves

GEW/Library Instruction

The information provided here is to help implement appropriate and successful course-integrated library resource instruction for your students. The guide points given below are specific to CSUSM but developed from proven pedagogical practices.

You may wish to provide research resource instruction yourself, or have the Humanities Librarian work with your class. In either instance, for further assistance contact the Humanities Librarian.

Related Links:

General GEW Resources


Library Resource Instruction 

As you have experienced during your own academic career, there is an ever-increasing variety of resources and methods to access information. Google seems to be the "first-year favorite", but it certainly does not meet university-level scholarly research needs. Research has shown many first year students do not have sufficiently-developed critical thinking skills to successfully manage the choices and research methods available to them. Library instruction is one way to help them develop these needed skills.  

The librarians at CSUSM have knowledge and experience working with these resources and the constantly shifting research landscape. They also have the subject expertise and willingness to provide assignment-specific instruction to help your students with their research. This should result in:

  • Better quality papers as students will know how to access scholarly and reliable resources
  • Hands-on practice to reinforce learning
  • Online support in the form of a web page specifically designed for your class and prompt
  • Reduction of plagiarism due to the student accessing needed materials efficiently and appropriately
  • Less work for you in the classroom (at least one day you can sit back and participate without lecturing!)


Instruction Space

The CSUSM Library has three instruction labs in the University Library. These labs are for librarian-provided instruction and are each configured in a different arrangement to meet the needs of a particular teaching process tailored to either individual or group work.

The 'favorite' room for GEW instruction is KEL 3400 which places the students next to the reference collection for basic research needs. The room easily accommodates the 20 students in a GEW class. As there are a number of librarians sharing these rooms, scheduling early is advised!

Instruction labs are available from 7 AM to 9 PM and must be arranged through the librarian providing instruction. Multiple meetings may be arranged with sufficient notice, but not semester-length courses.

If a library lab is not available, instruction can be scheduled in your regular classroom or a campus computer lab.


Scheduling Instruction

Contact the Humanities Librarian via email, phone (750-760-4374) or drop by KEL 3424 (office hours vary, but if I am in, the door is open). If for some reason, the Humanities Librarian is unavailable, contact the Teaching & Learning Coordinator.

Here are some tips to aid in making the scheduling easy and instruction successful.

  • Contact the librarian to schedule early for inclusion in your instruction schedule.
  • Plan for the library resource instruction to take the full class session.
  • The students must have read the targeted text prior to the library resource meeting. It does not serve the students well to present on resources for a work they have not become familiar with and have not begun to think about or discuss.
  • Please advise the librarian of your CRN number, number of students in class and any special details such as the class is a learning cohort, ESL or if there are DSS students that will need special accommodation.
  • Email your syllabus and paper prompt to the librarian to support the customized web page your class will be viewing. The librarian is available for review of the proposed prompt for resource availability (and would appreciate the 'heads up'.)
  • Prepare the librarian by describing where the students will be in the text, what problems you have encountered in previous work and what you would like to see emphasized (see Options.)
  • Prepare the students during the class session BEFORE the library instruction with what you expect them to learn, where they will be meeting, and that they are expected to arrive on time. There is no time for 'catch up' if they are late.
  • Plan on attending. Studies show the interaction between the faculty is attendance benefits the students' learning as well as provides an authority for answers about non-library but course-related matters.


Instruction Options

The Humanities Librarian is available to work with you to create assignments that are successful for both student learning and your instruction.

  • Library resource instruction is not a 'canned presentation' although there are standard elements:
    • Library Catalog
    • Research Databases
    • Search techniques: Boolean, keyword vs. subject, field searches
    • Alternative search terms
    • GET IT and Interlibrary Loan for materials outside the library's collection
    • Internet techniques: domain limiters, quality sources
    • Citation style sources
  • Optional elements that are included to a lesser degree, but can be expanded are:
    • scholarly vs. popular sources
    • full text sources vs. abstracts
    • Plagiarism vs. proper citation
    • Primary vs. secondary sources
  • Instruction can be split into several shorter sessions to address topics in more detail (research has shown this to be successful), place needed instruction at the most appropriate point, or allow more hands-on time.
  • Different active learning exercises can be designed to accommodate research emphases.
  • Paper-based exercises may be provided in lieu of relying on the electronic in order to encourage variety.


A collection of links to helpful sites on  effective learning through well-designed and implemented assignments. The Humanities Librarian is available to work with you to create assignments that are successful for both student learning and your instruction.

Assessing Learning

CSUSM is committed not only to aiding student success, but assessing improvement and identifying learning needs through assessment. Here are CSU and other links to assessment tools and strategies.

Pedagogy Resources

The following is a selective list of resources for teaching writing with a first-year emphasis.

Research Databases

The research databases are acquired to support the courses taught at CSUSM. The following databases provide either full text or abstracts of articles from thousands of journals and other sources on good pedagogy, learning styles, classroom management, and much more on teaching rhetoric and writing.

Some databases, such as MLA, do not offer full text of the articles. Use the Check SFX for Availability button to check our other resources for full text.

Most Useful

Project Muse
Full-text coverage for hundreds of scholarly journals in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics

Contains complete full-text back files (EXCEPT for the latest five years) of core scholarly journals in such areas as sociology, history, economics, political science, mathematics, African-American studies, Asian studies and others.

A national database of education literature, including reports and journal articles.

Also Useful

Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA)
Provides abstracts of articles from about 2,000 journals (published worldwide), coverage of recent books, book review citations and dissertation listings.

Includes abstracts of articles from critical literary and language journals.

Provides full text access to over 1,000 journals covering all fields of science.

Books at Cal State San Marcos

To search for books, you will use our library search. It is easy to extend your search to other local academic libraries (Circuit) or the world (WorldCat), but for convenience, start with our local collection.

Library OneSearch
Search our local collection of approximately 250,000 books. Use either keywords or subject headings. Some subject headings for teaching writing are:

College prose -- Evaluation
English language -- Composition and exercises
English language -- Composition and exercises -- Research -- Methodology
English language -- Grammar -- Study and teaching (Higher)
English language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching
Language arts -- Correlation with content subjects

Other Options (use the same subject headings as our catalog)

Circuit (1-3 day delivery)
Search the collections of other San Diego area libraries -- about 3,000,000 books. Find and request books directly online; pick them up at our Library in 1-3 days.

WorldCat (5-10 day delivery)
Search the collections of libraries world-wide -- about 52,000,000 books. Find a book in this database, and fill-out an Interlibrary Loan delivery request. Book will be delivered to the Library for pickup.

See these links for more:

Accessible Syllabus Template (Word Doc) (at CSUSM Faculty Center)

Creative Writing Helps (Bibliography assembled by the CSUSM Humanities Librarian)
Resources for Writing and Writing Instructors
Rhetoric and Composition
Rhetoric Page at Kettering University
Using Writing to Teach (Full-text book from Syracuse University, this is a 2.6 mb PDF file, so a bit slow to load, but can download chapters)


Plagiarism is an issue faced by all instructors at some point in their teaching career. The links below are provided to help you address the issue before it happens and when it does happen.

Need Help?

Torie Quiñonez

Arts and Humanities Librarian
librarian profile image
Office Telephone


Office Location

KEL 3426

Office Hours
By appointment