Objective: To bring all students up to par on research skills using the MLA International Bibliography’s free Online Course. Students will also explore uses for the MLA International Bibliography beyond finding sources to back up individual arguments and engage with academic discourse as it pertains to the bibliography.

Course work or assignment underway: Because curricula for first-year composition courses vary, students’ experiences with using research databases may vary as well. The Online Course, assigned as an out-of-class activity during the first or second week of the semester, can help students self-evaluate their searching skills, learn new strategies for searching the MLA International Bibliography, and review strategies that they may not have used recently.

MLA Thesaurus Discussion Questions

  • In Lesson 2, students learn that the MLA International Bibliography’s Thesaurus helps scholars develop a standard, shared vocabulary. Why is a standard, shared vocabulary important?
  • Explore the Thesaurus’s “explode” function (see Lesson 3 or the Tutorials for more information) in the context of topics and literatures related to the course. How can this function help students in their research?

History of Scholarship Discussion Questions

The Project-Based Assignments, which ask students to examine the history of scholarship on a work of literature or in a professional journal, can be adapted for classroom activity and discussion. For example:

  • How has scholarship on a topic or literary work pertaining to your course changed over time? What themes or patterns do you find in the subject terms for relevant records? How do the terms vary from decade to decade?
  • In professional journals, are there articles that appear now that wouldn’t have appeared fifty years ago? Articles that appeared fifty years ago that wouldn’t appear today?