The MLA International Bibliography offers a free five-unit course that helps students search more efficiently, understand their search results, and locate publications.

In what classes can I use the Online Course?

The Online Course is appropriate for any class covering topics in literature, linguistics, film, folklore, and the teaching of language and literature. The course is especially well-suited for use as an instructional tool in introductory literature, linguistics, film, and folklore classes, and for remediation in intermediate and advanced courses outside the classroom.

What topics are covered?

There are five units in the course. Each unit contains a lesson presented in one or two video tutorials, questions that reinforce the lessons and require active participation through database searching, and a quiz. The five units are as follows: 

  1. An introduction to research databases and the MLA International Bibliography
  2. Searching, including how to search within a particular field and keyword searching versus subject searching
  3. Limiting searches by publication date and other useful advanced search techniques
  4. Peer-reviewed publications: what they are and how to find them
  5. Understanding types of search results and locating full text

Students are required to take the units in order, because the lessons build on one another. However, the course does not need to be taken in one sitting. Progress will be saved.

In addition to the five-unit course, stand-alone subject-based modules are available on the following topics:

  • Film, Television, and Radio
  • Folklore
  • Linguistics
  • Rhetoric and Composition
  • Literary Topics

What are the learning objectives for the Online Course?

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to

  • efficiently use the MLA International Bibliography database for college-level research, using keywords, subject terms, and the Thesaurus;
  • understand search results and recognize the parts of MLA International Bibliography records in order to effectively locate full-text publications;
  • research the history of a scholarly topic or publication, using advanced search techniques and publication date restrictions; and
  • describe the scope and purpose of the MLA International Bibliography.

How do students register for the Online Course? 

Students need only an e-mail address to register. Visit the main MLA International Bibliography Teaching Tools page to obtain a login.

How can I use the MLA International Bibliography Teaching Tools in advanced undergraduate classes?

The Online Course is helpful for reviewing research skills outside the classroom. Also, advanced search techniques can help students research the history of scholarship on a particular topic or literary work (see the Scholarly Conversation and History of Scholarship assignments for ideas). Instructors may also find these techniques useful for introductory graduate classes.

How can I integrate the Online Course into my course’s grading scheme?

Students who complete the Online Course will receive a badge that they can then e-mail to instructors. (At this time, the course cannot be imported into other course management systems, including university-hosted Moodle courseware.) Receipt of the course completion badge indicates that the student has viewed each tutorial, answered and reviewed all of the progression questions, and scored 4/5 or better on each of the five quizzes. The five-unit Online Course takes approximately 90-120 minutes for students to complete, while the subject-area modules take approximately 20-45 minutes each.

How can I verify that my students have completed the course?

Students will receive online badges through the e-mail address that they used to register for the course. They will receive separate e-mails for each unit badge earned, a course completion badge, and a badge for completing each subject-specific course module. If the student’s course average is above 90 percent, the student will receive an additional “Skilled Searcher” course completion badge. These emails can be forwarded to the instructor to verify that a unit, course, or subject module has been completed. The e-mail contains an image of the badge as an attachment and a link to the badge certification as it resides in the courseware. You may want to click on the link to verify the badge.

Troubleshooting: My student earned a badge in the course but did not receive the badge by e-mail.

Sometimes automated e-mails from the course end up in spam folders. If students do not receive an e-mail right away, have them check their spam folders and mark e-mails from the MLA as “not spam.” Ask them to add to their contacts to prevent e-mails from being diverted into a spam folder.

Also, be sure that students are checking the same e-mail account that they used to register for the course.

Occasionally, an e-mail server issue may arise that needs to be resolved by the IT department of your institution. For this reason, you may wish to notify the staff of your IT department that you intend to assign the course so that they can anticipate any potential issues that could prevent students from receiving e-mails from the courseware.

If you have any other questions or you continue to experience difficulty, please contact us at

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