About AustLit

  • Scope

    While AustLit's mission relates to Australian literary, print, and narrative cultures, what counts as ‘Australian’ and ‘literary’ is influenced by current debates and changing reading, teaching and research patterns. While AustLit is as inclusive as possible, and responds to researchers’ current interests, our scope policy draws boundaries for reasons of both cohesiveness and resource limits. These boundaries are explained here.

  • Who is an AustLit Author?

    AustLit defines 'Australian' authors as:

    • born in Australia and a formative period of their lives spent here, e.g. expatriate authors such as Clive James

    International authors are included in AustLit, if their works:

    AustLit records comprehensive information about Australian organisations such as publishers, funding agencies, and other organisations that support our literary culture.

    AustLit also records information about international organisations that have a relationship with Australian literature.

    Contact us if you believe you are eligible for inclusion in AustLit or if there is information missing from your record.


    Does your work qualify for inclusion?

    To be included in AustLit as an author, illustrator or translator, your work must have been published either in book form, or in a journal, magazine or newspaper. Playwrights and screenwriters who have had their work produced are also eligible for inclusion. The kind of writing you do must fall within AustLit's scope for inclusion.

  • AustLit aims to include the bibliographic history and, where possible, links to the full text of creative Australian literature: fiction, drama, poetry, children's and young adult literature, travel writing, autobiography, memoir, biography, essays, Indigenous life stories and oral history.

    AustLit also covers critical material on Australian literary works, creative writers and critics, on Australian literature in general and biographical material about Australian writers and other significant figures in Australian literature. Material is also included about organisations concerned with the development and production of Australian literature and its distribution such as publishers, distributors, literary agencies, magazines, journals and newspapers, writers' groups, writer's festivals and the Literature Board of the Australia Council.

    Information relating to Australian awards, prizes and literature funding, and manuscripts can also be found here.

    Selective or minimal coverage

    If it is 'non-literary', non-fiction by Australian authors is either not included in AustLit or is covered only minimally. Examples of minimally covered material include:

    • works of an unambiguously political, historical, economic, sociological, practical or scientific nature
    • textbooks, guidebooks and information books
    • columns and feature articles in newspapers with social or personal comment or opinion that are primarily journalistic in nature and not distinguished as literary by editorial comment
    • works focusing on the broader areas of Australian studies, culture and language

    International works are either not included in AustLit or covered minimally.

    Examples of minimally covered material include:

    • works that meet the criteria for inclusion in an AustLit research project
    • works that have a relationship to an Australian work

    Works written by authors before they arrived in Australia or after they left Australia (especially authors who were born in a country other than Australia) may appear inconsistently across the database due to changes in policy across AustLit's lifetime. Please contact us if you want further information about a particular author.

    Organisations covered

    AustLit covers organisations that publish, represent, and financially support Australian authors:

    • Australian publishers, including multinational publishers with a publishing base in Australia
    • Australian authors' groups and societies, such as the Australian Society of Authors
    • film and theatre production companies, such as Southern Star
    • writers' centres in the states and territories, such as the Victorian Writers' Centre
    • literary agencies, including multinational agencies with a local base in Australia
    • arts and cultural organisations, such as the Literature Board of the Australia Council
    • arts and literary festivals, such as the Brisbane Writers' Festival

    Online resources

    AustLit aims to provide access to high quality online resources such as web-based journals and texts. Sites by and about Australian authors, publisher sites, and organisations relevant to Australian literary and print culture will be indexed. We also link to the National Library's PANDORA project.

    While we cannot vouch for the longevity or validity of the contents of indexed websites or e-publications, online resources recorded on AustLit conform as far as we can ascertain to the following standards:

    • provide access to accurate information, either current or with retrospective validity
    • allow links from other services
    • follow accepted privacy and practice guidelines
    • not breach copyright provisions
    • not include any potentially defamatory material, inappropriate material or any other legally questionable content
  • Sources

    AustLit indexers and bibliographers gather information from current and retrospective sources including:

    • monographs/books (single volume content, selected and collected works, anthologies)
    • journals, magazines (including fanzines), newspapers and newsletters
    • film/television/stage adaptations of Australian literary works
    • sound recordings of books
    • sound recordings/transcriptions of interviews with creative agents
    • manuscript collections
    • radio programs
    • author and publisher websites and blogs
    • arts and literary festival programs

    AustLit's coverage is stronger in some areas than in others and some publications are indexed selectively. Some specialist areas are rich and virtually complete, while others continue to evolve. We welcome contributions. Please see our Participate page for ways you can add to our content.

    AustLit currently indexes relevant content published in hundreds of journals and major Australian newspapers, but not exhaustively. Journals and newspapers are much more comprehensively indexed from 1988 onwards than for earlier years although a major retrospective indexing project was undertaken between 2009 and 2011 which led to a vast increase in coverage.

  • Record Types in AustLit

    Records comprise two main types – Agent and Work. Agent records are also of two types – Individuals and Organisations.

    Agent records (person) provide:

    • names, e.g. common writing names, alternative writing names (including pseudonyms), and other names by which the agent is or has been known
    • dates and places of birth and death
    • self-identified heritage details, or, in the case of deceased authors, details available in the public record
    • a brief summary of each creative agent's life and literary activities
    • references to secondary resources that supply greater detail on the person's life and works

    Agent records (organisation) provide:

    • names, including name changes over time
    • dates and principal places of organisational activity
    • a brief summary of the organisation's place in and contribution to Australian literature
    • references to important secondary resources that supply greater detail on the history of the organisation

    Work records provide:

    • bibliographic information, such as full title(s), place of publication, publisher, year of publication, reprints, new editions, revisions, adaptations
    • variant titles, introductions, prefaces, essays, significant annotations, illustrations, etc
    • subject indexing and setting information to a defined thesaurus
    • translations (from English to another language, as well as works created by Australian creative agents in a language other than English and translated into English)
    • content analysis of monograph and journal publications
    • details of any prizes or awards
    • tables of content for many anthologies and selected and collected works
    • abstracts and summaries
    • keywords and locations
    • links to full text, where available

    Policy changes

    Because of the evolving nature of literary and cultural studies and AustLit's value to researchers within these areas, the inclusion policy for AustLit material is subject to change over time. Some examples are:

    • inclusion criteria were widened in 2002 to include more literary non-fiction
    • new literary forms such as Oral History and Life Story were added in 2007 as part of the development of the BlackWords dataset
    • the representation of the role of the scriptwriter in the film and television industry was extended in 2010 alongside the production history of associated film works

    Retrospective coverage will inevitably be incomplete in these areas.