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French: A Guide to Research

Find research sources with a library search

This page offers ideas for how and where to search for research sources in the Milne Library. Scroll down to find reference booksdatabases full of articles, and search tips that are tailored to French students.

Need help with your research on a specific subject?Woman faces path of confusion

Contact the library's Reference Desk to help find a source, or set up a consultation with a Reference & Instruction Librarian for an hour-long research session. For more information, visit the Get Library Help page. 

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Library Search Tips

Search Tips for Databases

Databases are searchable online catalogs for research materials like scholarly journals and articles, books, primary source materials (such as letters, maps, datasets, or photographs), and video and audio materials. Milne Library's databases are all listed at A-Z Databases

Use "advanced" search functions in databases

For best results, use Advanced Search options. Try combining the name of the region, country, author, or other main topic you are focusing on with additional French-related subject terms to find scholarly articles. Some example subject terms to try:

  • French language / langue française
  • French linguistics
  • French literature
  • Francophone Africa

Filter your search results

Look for "filter" options in your search results that let you choose the language of the resource (if you are looking for French language articles, for example) or the dates of publication. If you are looking for a certain kind of research material -- like a full-text article, a book, or an audio file -- you can often filter for type, too. 

Use French & English search terms

Leverage your knowledge of foreign languages to expand the number of search terms you can use:

  1. Naming conventions are different in different cultures and databases may or may not take that into account. For example when looking up Honoré de Balzac, try spelling it with and without accent marks or only with the last name (Balzac), etc.
  2. Articles written in a foreign language may have set their keywords in a foreign language too. So consider searching in English (e.g. for ‘the Enlightenment’) and in your target language (e.g. ‘la Ilustración’ or ‘Le Siècle des Lumières’).

Best Bets: Databases for French Resources

Specialized Databases for French Scholars 

Research databases are searchable online catalogs of research materials like scholarly journals and articles, books, primary source materials (such as letters, maps, datasets, or photographs), and video and audio materials.

Some databases are freely accessible online. French-language open access databases include:

  • Persée provides free and open access to complete collections of scholarly publications (journals, books, conference proceedings, serial publications, primary sources, etc.) and to a range of research and exploitation tools. It is organized by the French government and several universities. 

Some databases require paid subscriptions by your library. Milne Library's databases are all listed at A-Z Databases. Here are some best bets in our collection for French:

General Interest Databases

General Interest Databases: Best Bets

These databases cover general interest and academic topics, but targeted search terms (like those suggested in "Library search tips" above) can yield great results for French course assignments and projects. Most offer language-specific searches.

Find Books

Searching for Library Books

To look for books in the Milne Library catalog, navigate to the library homepage and click on 'Advanced Search.' Then enter your search terms.

  • If you want print volumes, change the search scope to 'Library Catalog', limit to 'Books', enter your search terms and click 'Search'. Once in the results list, click 'Held by Library' to limit to print volumes only.
  • If you wish to find online books, limit the search scope to 'Online Access' and change the 'Material Type' to 'Books'.


Reference Books in the Library


Reference sources--like encyclopedias and dictionaries--provide an overview or summary of your topic and are ideal to be used when starting research. Some useful French reference titles are listed here. Print reference resources are currently located on the sub-basement and the 2nd floor in the Milne Library.


The Oxford-Hachette French dictionary: French-English, English-French by Marie-Hélène Corréard, Valerie Grundy, Jean-Benoit Ormal-Grenon, and Nicholas Rollin
Call Number: REF PC2640 .O83 2007
ISBN: 978-0198614227
Publication Date: 2007

Acclaimed by language professionals the world over, the Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary has long been the market leader. Using the statistical evidence provided by vast electronic databanks of language currently being written and spoken, our expert editors have made it the most comprehensive, reliable, and up-to-date dictionary of French and English available today. This fully updated fourth edition has even better coverage of the language than ever before, with improved treatment of acronyms and EU terminology, as well as thousands of new words in both English and French. A must for anyone studying the French language, this dictionary has been tailored to the needs of students in consultation with key academic advisors. This edition contains even more of the useful information for language students or part-time residents abroad, including sample bills and rental agreements. By far the most up-to-date and complete French dictionary of its size, it will provide one-stop shopping for all your language needs.


Collection littéraire Lagarde et Michard : les grands auteurs franc̦ais du programme : anthologie et histoire littéraire edited by André Lagarde and Laurent Michard
Call number: PQ1109 .L3 1982
Publication date: 1982

The Collection Littéraire Lagarde et Michard is an anthology of French literature by century.


Book cover La conjugaison pour tous (Nouvelle Edition) edited by Bénédicte Delaunay and Nicolas Laurent
Call number: PC2272 .C66 2012
ISBN: 9782218951985
Publication date: 2012

Repensée et soigneusement mise à jour, cette nouvelle édition du Bescherelle La conjugaison pour tous constitue plus que jamais l'outil indispensable de la conjugaison française. L'ouvrage comprend trois parties complémentaires qui donnent toutes les indications nécessaires pour trouver et orthographier les formes de n'importe quel verbe français.

Can't Find Your Book at our Library?

One option is to use ILLiad, our interlibrary loan system, to request that the book be sent from another library. Remember that it can take a while to fulfill an ILL request, and it's occasionally not possible. Another possibility is Resource Sharing, which allows us to borrow books from most other SUNYs, CUNYs, and several other private colleges throughout New York State. An advantage to Resource Sharing is that the checkout terms are longer.

You cannot obtain required course textbooks through ILL or Resource Sharing.

Find eBooks

Open Access Online Books

There are many open access book collections available freely on the internet. Here are a few great collections:

Milne Library eBook Collections

There are two ways to find eBooks from the library's collections. One method is to search in the Milne Library catalog. Navigate to the library homepage and click on 'Advanced Search.' Then enter your search terms.

  • If you wish to find online books, limit the search scope to 'Online Access' and change the 'Material Type' to 'Books'.

The second method is to search each Milne Library's eBook databases (in case something in a database is not showing up in our catalog). All eBook databases are available in the A-Z Database list, and here are some best bets: