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Syracuse University Libraries

French Language and Literature: Research Strategies

This guide outlines key resources and strategies for searching French language and literature at the Syracuse University Libraries

Research Tips

  • Familiarize yourself with your topic before beginning your research. This will save time later.
  • Know the parameters of the reference tool(s) you are searching. Certain reference works only cover particular time periods or may not be comprehensive in scope. For instance, most online databases begin their coverage in the 1980s.
  • Make the fullest use possible of reference tools, including bibliographies which can lead you to other sources.
  • Read the source carefully. Note organizational differences between tools.
  • Be creative. Try alternative and related headings to locate the information you need.

Harvard Guide to Using Sources

Harvard Guide to Using Sources: The Harvard Guide to Using Sources is an easily accessible introductory guide to use of sources. It includes tips for students on finding, choosing, and integrating reliable sources into academic writing. The Guide provides examples of MLA, APA, and Chicago styles of citation and includes information on avoiding plagiarism.

The "How tos" of Searching

  • French writers are usually listed under their family name. 
    • e.g. Gouges, Olympe de
  • Be aware of variant spellings.
  • Be aware that early modern authors may be listed by their title. Older resources may not cross reference these variant listings.
    • e.g.  Charrière, Madame de or Charrière, Isabelle
  • A title is listed without an article if the article appears at the beginning of the title.
    • e.g.  Princesse de Clèves
  • Certain individual titles may not be available in separate editions. Check for œuvres which may contain the specific work.
  • The subject heading search in the classic catalog is based upon a thesaurus of terms developed by the Library of Congress.
    • e.g.  French fiction - 17th century-History and Criticism
  • Database subject searching is often keyword based so it creates a more broad-based search. The entire bibliographic entry is searched and not just the subject field.