ESL Research Guide

A guide to library resources for ESL students.

Search Omni for Research Material

Use Omni to discover books available through the library, whether they're ebooks or physical.

  • Filters let you limit to "Available Online" (ebooks) or Available in Library (physical).

Omni even finds chapters within books.


The goal of taking English As A Second Language (ESL) at Trent is to acquire the reading, writing and speaking skills necessary to assume university level research. By the end of ESL training Trent students should be able to read and comprehend material published in peer-reviewed journals and scholarly books. However, for the first few levels of ESL training with this material is not suitable.

Library resources tend to be geared towards specific academic disciplines like biology, history and psychology. These types of databases will be used in university courses, and they're available from the Subject Guides.  We also provide access to more general databases, including that that covers news, popular magazines, and a wide variety of subject areas. Under the "Databases" tab (above), find links to some of the more general resources that will help students at various levels of ESL training.

Getting Started

When you do your research, it's important to know where to look and what you will find there. You won't find everything in one place, so think about what you want to find.

Generally, there are three types of documents to look for.


Use Google or another internet search engine. 

  • Keep in mind: anyone can create a website. Is it scholarly, reliable, expert? Who created this site? Why?
    • See our tutorial on Evaluating Websites.
  • Learn about Google Scholar.


Search Omni, the library search tool.

Published Articles

Access to published articles is usually restricted to those who have paid - like your Library. Use Library databases to find them.

  • See the databases useful for ESL by selecting your ESL level on the left side menu.
  • See a list of databases for a subject area on a Subject Guide.
  • See a list of all our databases on the Databases A-Z page.
  • See the online tutorial for Finding Articles.

Think about the terms you are going to search for.

  • The computer looks for the letters - not the ideas!
  • The words you think of may not be the only way to express a topic.
  • Think about other words that might be useful.

We have a brief online tutorial that explains how to plan your search.

You need to do something with what you find.

Your choices depend on the database you use. Look for options to:

  • Save your results - to a stick, your own computer, or your H: drive or Google drive.
  • Print your results. Include the full text when possible.
  • Email your results. Include the full text when possible.

If you don't save your articles now, you might not be able to find them again!

If you're signed in to Omni, you can save individual items you find, or save your search, to "Favourites". They'll be there the next time you sign in. You can also grab a "permalink" to an item you find.

Many online resources are restricted - you can only enter them if you pay for access.

The Trent Library pays for Trent students to have access to many restricted sites, but you need to get there using the links on the Library website in order to be recognized as a Trent student.

Always start from the Library website when you do your research. 

Our links are customized to provde access to the Library's restricted resources.  When you click on one of these links from off-campus, you'll be asked to login using your myTrent username/password.