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MFA Creative Writing

This guide is intended to support MFA Creative Writing students as they conduct research.

Creative Writing Research Guide

Welcome! This guide provides resources for conducting research in the field of Creative Writing. 

Navigate the guide using the tabs to the left. If you don't see what you need, or if you have suggestions for this guide, please contact the Instruction and Learning Services Librarian

Developing a Topic

Below are some questions and strategies for exploratory research as you begin to develop your topic. 

  1. How did you become interested in this topic? Personal experience, something you read or heard, other? 
  2. Write down the key concepts for your current research topic.
    • For example: "folklore" and "Disney"
  3. For each key concept, generate synonyms and related terms. Add to this list as you read and explore; it’s likely that you’ll start to see themes or directions as you create an organic map of your interests in this topic. 
    • For example: [folklore OR "fairy tales" OR fables OR folktales] AND [Disney OR "Robin Hood" OR "Snow White"]
    • Check out this guide for more information on generating search terms. 
  4. Choose some of the terms from your list, and start to search in various places. Keep in mind that you won't necessarily use all of the sources you find at this stage of the research process. Some sources might just provide ideas or directions for your research topic.
    • Google or public search engines (+ “essay” or “analysis” or [name of specific publication])
    • Google Scholar (see this guide for more information on Google Scholar)
    • Library databases (see this guide for "how to" search for academic articles)
  5. Skim the articles or sources that you’ve found so far.
    • How does your initial topic fit into the conversations that you see in front of you? 
    • Remember that you likely won’t find articles that address all aspects of your topic, and that’s a good thing. At the graduate research level, you’ll pull together elements of other research to make the case for your own research filling a particular gap. 
  6. Once you identify a more specific topic to pursue, try combining some of those search terms in library databases in order to find academic journal articles or books. 
    • Check out the "Recommended Databases" tab on the left of this page. Or, from Databases A-Z, limit by Subject: Creative Writing. This will show a list of databases relevant to Creative Writing research. You are welcome to explore other disciplines, as well!