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ENGL 1301-Miller: Before you start researching...

This document provides guidance on researching film history and criticism.

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Decide which sources to use

Questions to ask yourself before you start:

  • Do I already know enough about my topic to choose meaningful search terms?
    • You will use the info that you find researching your film's production details in your search for film reviews and criticism.
  • Does the kind of source I am evaluating contain the kind of material I'm looking for?
    • You would not look for car repair instructions in a cookbook; similarly, you will not usually find film criticism in a newspaper, although you WILL find film reviews.
  • Does the publication date of my resources matter?
    • On this assignment, YES!  If your film was released in 2016, there is no point to looking at film reviews published in the 1990's.
  • What level of scholarly research does this resource contain?  Who is the audience?

Author Qualifications

There are MANY, MANY people who write about films.  Not all of them are acceptable to use as sources for this assignment, even if you might read them in your personal life.

Consider the following:

  • What qualifications does the author have to write about film?
    • Do they write for a mainstream newspaper, magazine, journal or major website?
    • Did they get paid for writing their article?
      • In this case, getting paid is a good sign.  It shows that someone respects their writing enough to pay for it.
    • Do they have any formal education in the field?
    • Do they have significant experience working in the film industry?
  • Different types of writing may require different author qualifications.
    • Authors who write films reviews may be journalists or professional reviewers.
    • Authors who write film criticism are usually academics.
    • Sources that provide film production details may not even list authors.