I was reading up on literary criticism recently, and I noticed that my favorite BYU journal, Criterion, was missing a few issues from their database. Could you please find the old issues for me? Once you find them, please let me know what movie was referenced on the cover of their fourth issue.

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Author’s Note: As the Editor-in-Chief of Criterion: A Journal of Literary Criticism, one of the major projects I undertook this past semester was to retroactively publish five issues of Criterion that were missing from our ScholarsArchive database. Completing this task turned out to be quite the endeavor and required me to draw upon the OSINT skills I had developed through participation in CTFs. After finding all of our past issues, I decided to turn the task into a CTF challenge to see how others would fair given the same situation.


I began by digging through old emails (okay, that part wouldn’t be considered OSINT) and running a ton of searches on Google and Google Scholar. These searches involved trying to limit results to BYU’s Criterion (i.e., excluding all the other journals with “Criterion” in their name), specifying date ranges, and limiting searches to specific websites. One of my best discoveries through this method was a full PDF of our fifth issue, published in 2012, that had been uploaded to academia.edu by one of our past authors.

With some further searching, I was able to find two additional authors who had published their essays to Academia as well. One of the articles, “Speaking Through Death in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea” was from our 2013 issue, which was already available through our ScholarsArchive page.

The other, “Cosmopolitan Commitments: Beyond the ‘Nation’ and the ‘Meantime’ in Nadine Gordimer’s The Pickup” was from our missing 2011 issue, but unfortunately for me, the author had only uploaded her essay, and not the entire issue.

With some more searching, I found another lead—an Amazon listing for our third issue, which was published back in 2010. At the time, it was listed for sale by a used book shop in Las Vegas. Amazon says that it is no longer available, so perhaps it was sold or simply delisted.

The listing gave me a good idea of what the issue’s cover looked like (as part of my project to complete our database, I was additionally seeking out the cover art of past issues), but more importantly it listed the titles of each article contained in the issue. Using this contents information, I had a whole ton of additional material to go searching for.

Using the newly discovered titles, I was able to locate a number of authors who had listed their articles in the Publications section of their LinkedIn profiles.

Only one of these articles actually had a link associated with it, http://english.byu.edu/criterion/links/interior3.pdf, which leads to a dead page.

Fortunately, this dead link was not a dead end. Using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, I was able to recover the document that had preciously resided at this link—issue number three!

Moving up to the directory level, I was able to locate a number of files that previously existed under http://english.byu.edu/criterion/links/

Here I found all of the missing issues, their original cover art (albeit at a very low resolution of 300 × 450 pixels), and what appears to have been the original Criterion website!

On our new website, we now have links to all of Criterion’s past issues, complete with (almost) all of the cover art:

*Note: If you happened to visit our website during the CTF, you may have noticed that the cover for issue 4 was missing. Unfortunately for our competitors, I removed it for the duration of the competition in order to create an environment similar to the one I was working under.