Using the MLA International Bibliography

Tutorial Videos

The MLA International Bibliography offers an extensive tutorial video series on searching the bibliography. New tutorials are released every few months. If you have a suggestion for a topic that you’d like to see covered in a tutorial, please let us know.

Please feel free to link to our tutorials, embed them in syllabi or LibGuides, and share them with anyone who might find them useful.

Where to Find the Bibliography

The MLA International Bibliography is available as an online database through libraries that subscribe to it. To determine whether the MLA International Bibliography is available at your academic institution or public library, you should first visit the library Web site. 

On the library’s home page, look for a link to e-Research, Research tools, Find articles, or Databases and click on the associated hyperlink.

Since your library probably subscribes to many databases, it may provide a list of titles to navigate (arranged alphabetically or by subject). Click on “M” and scroll to MLA, search for “MLA,” or click on a subject such as literature or language. If your library subscribes, you will see a link to the MLA International Bibliography

To access the MLA International Bibliography, you may need to sign in using your library card or institution ID and password. Consult your librarian if you have difficulty locating or logging in to our database.

How to Search the Bibliography

Using the MLA International Bibliography begins with a search. The bibliography offers many search options, which can be selected and combined to tailor the results to the researcher’s specific needs. These options include

  • literary authors and their works (e.g., “Achebe, Chinua”; “Things Fall Apart”)

  • subject terms, including people, characters, places, periods, movements, and subject matter (e.g., “Wordsworth, William,” “Lake District,” “1700-1899,” “Romanticism,” and “landscape”)

  • titles of articles, books, and other scholarly works indexed in the bibliography

  • academic authors and their works (e.g., “Butler, Judith”; “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity”)

  • language of publication (e.g., “French language”)

  • date of publication (e.g., “2014,” “2005-2015”)

  • limit to peer-reviewed journal articles

A searchable list of all the subject terms in the bibliography and their related terms can be found in the MLA Thesaurus, included with every subscription. 

The MLA International Bibliography also includes the Directory of Periodicals, which lists journals and book series indexed in the bibliography and provides extensive editorial information about them. Search the Directory of Periodicals to find a list of journals and book series on a given subject or to find detailed information on a specific journal or book series. Depending on which vendor provides the bibliography, you may see a separate link to the Directory of Periodicals on your library’s list of databases, or the directory may be accessed from the bibliography’s home page.

Accessing Full-Text Documents

While the bibliography itself does not contain the full text of the items it indexes, it provides a number of ways to link easily from a citation to the full text in another location.

First, citations in the bibliography are formatted in a way that supports standard linking mechanisms available at most academic libraries. These include linking to full text available online through the library Web site, locating a print version in the library’s collection, locating an item in another library through WorldCat, and requesting an item through interlibrary loan. The vendors that host the bibliography also may provide direct links to full text in their other database products available at the library.

In addition, the bibliography provides links to full text as part of the indexing record whenever possible. Except for materials that are freely accessible on the Web, the degree of access to the full-text records will vary, depending on whether the library has subscribed to the products containing the full text. Links of this sort include

  • Links that go directly to items available freely on the Web

  • Links to items we have indexed that are available in the JSTOR or Project MUSE databases. (For more information about JSTOR and Project MUSE, visit their sites at http://www.jstor.org and http://muse.jhu.edu/.)

  • DOIs (digital object identifiers). These are unique identification codes that link to the site where a document is stored online. 

  • Links to items we have indexed from the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database, which has archived over 2.4 million dissertations and master’s theses from academic institutions throughout the world; most are available in full text in print, microform, and digital formats.

The MLA International Bibliography and ORCID

The MLA International Bibliography has partnered with ORCID, a not-for-profit organization that provides researchers with unique digital identifiers to distinguish themselves from others with similar names. 

The purpose of the ORCID registry is to clearly and definitively differentiate one author from another by creating a unique identification tag: the ORCID identifier. The ORCID identifier is initiated by scholars or by their institutions. It is then used by universities, publishers, and other organizations, such as the MLA, to differentiate authorship of the publications in their files. ORCID aims to create a clear, permanent record of scholarship that transcends “discipline, geographic, national and institutional boundaries.”

To claim your ORCID identifier using MLA bibliography records and to fill in your publication history, go to biblink.mla.org. Alternatively, Biblink can be accessed through the main ORCID site at orcid.org by selecting MLA International Bibliography under Link Works.