An essay on Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily"


For an English composition class, you are assigned a five page paper on the theme of William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily." You must have five sources from scholarly journals or books. You must use MLA style. The paper is due in four weeks.

STEP 1: Formulate your question or statement

Since your professor has given you an assignment — the theme of "A Rose for Emily" — you have a basic statement from which to work.

STEP 2: Get background information

You go to the library and the reference librarian shows you the Dictionary of Literary Biography where you find an in-depth article on Faulkner.

The article provides you with information on Faulkner, his writings in general, and how they were received at the time he wrote them. Plus, it includes some information on "A Rose for Emily."

Time spent: 30 minutes

STEP 3: Refine your search topic

Since your assignment is on the theme of a short story, you have your topic.

STEP 4: Consider your resource options

Types of materials
Your professor has given you two options: books and scholarly journals.

Time frame
Since you have four weeks, you will have time to get materials on interlibrary loan, if you need them. There are no time constraints on when the materials were written.

Determine discipline/subject(s) covered
Discipline: Humanities
Subject: Literature

STEP 5: Select the appropriate tool

STEP 6: Use the tools to perform the searches

You begin with the following search to find scholarly articles:

GALILEO > Arts & Humanities (because of discipline) > MLA Bibliography

MLA Bibliography is a database your professor recommended as an excellent source for literary topics.

Search for: rose for emily (keyword search)
Results: 86 articles

You need to reduce the number of results, so you limit your search results...

GALILEO > Arts & Humanities > MLA Bibliography

Search for: rose for emily (keyword search)
Limit: Document Type: Journal
Results: 66

Limit: Language English
Results: 63

You look through the list of citations. Since the MLA Bibliography is not a full-text database, you must note whether your library owns the journal you need. If your library does not, you will have to request it on interlibrary loan.

After looking at the titles, you notice there are eight articles in journals in your library that look as if they might be helpful. You "mark" those items, then print off the citations so that you can find the journals.

Next, you look for some books. For that you need to use GIL...

It is unlikely you'll find an entire book on one of Faulkner's short stories. But you may find information about one story in a section or chapter of a book. Thus, you broaden your search to Faulkner and limit it to his short stories.

Using the 'More Options' search, 'Keyword'
Search: Faulkner and short stories
Results: 8

Four of the books sound promising, so you copy down the call numbers to locate them.

Time spent using GIL and GALILEO: 2 hours

STEP 7: Locate the materials

You find the journals in the area where journals are shelved. Using the call number, you locate the four books.

Time spent gathering materials: 30 minutes

STEP 8: Read and analyze your materials

After reading the eight articles, you find that only four deal with the theme of "A Rose for Emily." The other four you cannot use.

Of the four books you selected, two have information on the theme of the story.

Time spent reading: 3 hours

STEP 9: Organize and write your paper

Based on how you plan to present your paper, you organize the information and write your paper.

Time spent: 5 hours

STEP 10: Compose your bibliography

You have kept good notes as you worked on your paper. At this point, you must compile the bibliographic information into a bibliography using the assigned style, in this case, MLA.

Time spent: 20 minutes

And you're done! Which means....?

Account of This Research Process

Total time spent: 11 hours, 20 minutes
Grade: A (of course!)