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The Rhetoric of Asian American Activism (WRIT 0160-302: Critical Writing Program Fall 2022): What to Do When You Are Stuck

What to do when you are stuck

Even the most seasoned researchers get stuck. That is part of the discovery process of research.

A few suggestions:

  • Change things up: try a different kind of database, change your keywords, try a citation chase 
  • Talk to your professor or TA: they are researchers and can help direct you
  • For this class, make sure to check out the Asian American studies LibGuide. This LibGuide might inspire you to look in different databases and from the perspective of different fields of study.
  • Email me ( or even better go directly to the librarian that most closely matches your subject from this list of subject librarians.
    • Specifically for Asian American studies, contact Nick Okrent (Van Pelt 204;
    • If you str researching Asian studies from the Middle East or Islamic studies perspective, consider reaching out to Heather Hughes ( 
    • For South Asian studies materials, contact Jef Pierce (Van Pelt 555;
    • For Southeast Asian studies, you will want to speak with Brian Vivier (Van Pelt 525;

What do I do if I hit a paywall? 

Using Penn subscribed databases sends you through the Libraries "proxy." The proxy is the key that unlocks the subscription paywalls. You should never have to pay for a journal article. Talk to your librarian if you run into trouble connecting to an article.  99% of the time they can help you get the article quickly.

To avoid paywalls:

  • Connect to databases through library guides like this one or through Franklin Catalog. 
  • Set Lean Library up in your browser--The Lean Library Library Access Browser Extension allows you to easily connect to Penn Libraries' licensed content from your laptop or desktop computer when off-campus.   Lean Library also offers a mobile app version called Academic Browser for iOS.
  • Use Google Scholar Advanced settings to recognize your Penn affiliation.
    • Click the three short lines or "hamburger' in the right hand corner 
    • Click settings > library links > Search for University of Pennsylvania in the search box > check University of Pennsylvania - Full Text via Penn Text > save

    google scholar settings  

If we don't have direct access to an article or book chapter, you can "Request Scan" (the Libraries will request from another library--turn around time can be quick!) or request books from "Request Print," which will trigger a request from one of our partner libraries. Log into Franklin Catalog to see all of your options. 

Screenshot of a Franklin catalog entry

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