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English Literature: researching your dissertation: COVID-19

This guide gives an overview of the range of resources available to you when researching your dissertation topic. Topics covered include developing effective search strategies and finding scholarly primary and secondary source material.

Current Library Services

For the most up to date information on using the Library service this academic year, please visit the Current Library Services Guide.

What if the book you want is only available in print?

Although the Library building is open for Click and Collect book access, and Study Spaces, we are aware that lots of students are now sturying remotely and you will need to follow the government's Stay at Home guidance. This means that you should not travel if it is not essential.

If the book that you need is only available in the University Library, please contact Kim to find out if an electronic version can be purchased or accessed. We may be able to get hold of books through a range of difference routes, but this will depend on the book - so please get in touch to ask if you need a book that you cannot read online: 

Using the Library safely

Your Library continues to support you during the COVID-19 situation. Here we've brought together information and links to help you make sense of what resources you can access, how to do it, and how we can help you further. 

Online resources

You can still access the many resources we already provide online:

  • Access your online reading lists through Blackboard as usual
  • Use the 'E-resources' tab above in this guide to find familiar databases in your subject.

Some publishers and online databases are offering additional free access to staff and students, and these are listed in the 'COVID-19 additional free resources' section on this page. Access may cease or revert to previous arrangements after dates indicated, so please tell your Academic Liaison Librarian where you find anything so useful we should consider buying it in future.

Borrowing print books from the Library

You can borrow books from the Library using our Click and Collect Service - please find the books you need online, and make an online request to get what you need while maintaining social distancing.

Booking study spaces in the Library

To reserve an individual study space in the Library building, and to find out what is available in the Library this year, please visit the Current Library Services guide for the booking form and most up to date information.

Online Library help

All Library staff are still available to help and assist with your studies and research.

  • Your Academic Liaison Librarian, who has compiled this guide, can advise you on finding literature, referencing and other information matters. Go to the 'Home' or 'Help' tabs of this guide for their contact details - they can reply by email or video link.
  • Our Study Advisers are available for one-to-one advice and support online via video, chat, or email. They also have a series of video tutorials and study guides providing essential study advice.
  • Our Maths Support team is available for one-to-one advice and support online via video, chat, or email.  They also provide links and guidance, worksheets and video tutorials. 
  • Our Research Engagement team is available to support your research. If you require support for Open Access, research data management and other research related matters, please email
  • If you encounter a problem or need technical help and support with online resources, please complete an E-resources problem report form or email

Further information
If you have any other enquiries or require any additional support, please email

Look out for further Library service updates on the Library website, University Library News blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Using our online resources from home

When you are off-campus we recommend that you follow links from the Library's webpages, Enterprise, Summon, or your subject guide. Following these links will often (but not always) direct you to login straight away with your University username and password.

You login in the same way as for Blackboard - via Microsoft. Just enter your University username followed by (e.g. and your password. If this is the first time you have logged in via this method when off-campus you will be asked to complete a Multi-Factor Authentication

Once you've logged in, you are then identified as a member of the University of Reading, and the book, search engine, or article database knows that you are a member of the University, and are allowed access to the material. You will not normally be asked to login again during that browser session.

Although you can search for information using a general web search, you will often find that you’re not able to access the information that you need – so it’s best to use the Library webpages first. 

If Single Sign On does not appear... 

If you have followed a link from our website or catalogues and you are not able to access the resource straight away you may need to look for a login option. Look for an institutional or shibboleth login option and pick 'University of Reading' from a list of institutions. This will direct you to login as above.

Accessing resources remotely

This series of videos covers accessing books, journal articles and primary sources when working away from campus. They include finding online Library resources and freely available material too.

To find a book you will need to use the Library’s Enterprise search – this is the first box on the Library homepage or use the box below. When you have searched, use the filters on the left-hand side to limit to Online only. To access an e-book online, click on the access link, and you will be prompted to login with your University username (e.g. and password. You can read e-books online, and can sometimes download part or all of a book to keep. 

If the book that you need isn't available as an e-book, please contact your Academic Liaison Librarian, and they may be able to purchase a copy.

Search Enterprise for e-books


Watch this short video on finding e-books on Enterprise

Try Google books

If you need access to a specific book it is always worth trying Google Books. Although you won't find the complete text, it might provide the section you need.

To find chapters in books or online journal articles you can use the Library’s Summon search – this is the second box on the Library homepage or use the box below. Once you have run your search use the options on the left hand side to select the information that you need, for example journal articles, scholarly and peer review material. Everything that you see in your results can be accessed online - click the title or the Full Text Online link.  

If the article or chapter that you need isn't available online, please contact your Academic Liaison Librarian, and they may be able to help find alternative access.

Search Summon for online book chapters and journal articles


Watch this short video on searching Summon

Finding Open Access research papers

In addition to the Open Access content listed on Summon you might want to try searching the following databases to find Open Access research papers:

COVID-19 additional free resources

During the COVID-19 situation a number of publishers have been extending access to some or all of their resources, some for free, for a limited period. Please be aware that access will probably cease or revert to previous arrangements after the date indicated in the description of each resource. Let your Academic Liaison Librarian know if you have found any of these resources particularly useful so that we consider them for possible purchase.