English 110 – Baxton

social issues word map

About this Guide

This guide provides students with recommended resources for conducting research in English 110 with Professor Baxton.
Use the tabs to navigate through the pages of the guide.

Your Assignment

Write a 4-5 page paper in which you define a contemporary, relevant problem and propose a solution, using outside research to support your arguments. Your topic should be a current, controversial issue–that is, it must have some relevance to your local community, the nation, or the world. And, it must be something about which people could argue and take different positions.

Paper Writing Assistance

About SBCC’s Writing Center
The SBCC Learning Resource Center – writing tools online

Need more help?

If you need more help with research, ask a librarian! Stop by the Reference Desk, or contact a librarian by phone, text, or chat for more help. Find our contact information on the right side of this page.Contact Us

Choosing a Topic

Reference sources are a great place to start, to get topic ideas and to get background information on your topic.

Print Reference Books

These resources are available in the Luria Library Reference section.

  • The official guide to American attitudes: who thinks what about the issues that shape our lives — R 303.380973 M682o
  • Violence in America : an encyclopedia — R 303.6 G685v
  • Protest, power, and change : an encyclopedia of nonviolent action from ACT-UP to women’s suffrage — R 303.61 P888p
  • Encyclopedia of racism in the United States — R 305.800973 M663e
  • Encyclopedia of social issues — R 306.0973 R 845e
  • Encyclopedia of contemporary American social issues — R306.0973 S528e
  • Social history of the United States — 306.0973 W186e
  • American countercultures : an encyclopedia of nonconformists, alternative lifestyles, and radical ideas in U.S. history — R 306.1 M678a
  • Encyclopedia of Politics — R 320.03 C283e
  • Encyclopedia of social problems — R 361.1 P261e
  • Encyclopedia of crime and punishment — R 364.03 L665e
  • Encyclopedia of gangs — R 364.1066 K82e
  • Dictionary of American history — R 973.03 A194d 2003

Online Reference Sources

These resources are available online and will require your Pipeline account information when you access them off campus.

  • Credo Reference: Contains the full text of nearly 600 encyclopedias, dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, and other reference books.


Search the library catalog for your topic. To limit to books, choose the appropriate box from the menu to the left of your search results.

Tip: If you add the phrase “social conditions” to your searches, you may have more successful results.


Use the following databases to find articles from periodicals (magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals). These resources will require your Pipeline account information when you access them off campus.

  • Academic Search Premier: Provides abstracts for articles from over 4,600 periodicals (journals, magazines, and newspapers) in all subject areas.

For pro/con information on current or controversial issues, try searching one of these databases:

  • CQ Researcher: An excellent source of pro/con information, containing single-themed reports on issues in the news. Provides in-depth, unbiased coverage of both sides of controversial issues related to health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, and the economy. Each 12,000-word report includes: an introductory overview; background and chronology on the topic; an assessment of the current situation; tables and maps; pro/con statements from representatives of opposing positions; and bibliographies of key sources. Offers access to CQ Researcher reports dating back to 1991.
  • Opposing Viewpoints: An excellent source of pro/con information, providing opinions and other information on hundreds of today’s hottest social issues. Includes continuously updated viewpoint articles, topic overviews, full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, primary source documents, statistics, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted websites.

For newspaper articles, try searching one of these sources:

  • National Newspapers: (searches the following papers: New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and Washington Post
  • Newspaper Source: (Provides cover-to-cover full text for 35 national & international newspapers. The database also contains selective full text for more than 375 regional (U.S.) newspapers. In addition, full text television & radio news transcripts are also provided.)

See the Luria Library’s database descriptions page for a full list of library databases, or ask a librarian for the best database to use for your topic.

Evaluating Websites

Figuring out whether the information you find online is credible enough for college research can be challenging. Use the P.R.O.V.E.N. Test for Evaluating Sources to determine whether the sources you find are credible:

  • Purpose: The reason the information exists. Is the purpose to sell, to entertain, to inform, to teach, or to persuade? Do the authors and publishers/sponsors make their purposes clear? Is this source designed for general readers or academic readers?
  • Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs. Does it relate to your topic? Does it meet the requirements of your assignment? Is it too basic or too advanced?
  • Objectivity: The reasonableness of the information. Is it fact or opinion? Is it biased? Do the authors use strong or emotional language, or leave out important facts or alternative perspectives?
  • Verifiability: The truthfulness and accuracy of the information. Where does the information come from? Can you verify it in other sources? Are there citations or links to other sources? What do experts say about the topic?
  • Expertise: The source of the information. Who are the authors, publishers, or sponsors of the information? Are they experts, or has the information been reviewed by experts? Is it posted on a personal website or blog?
  • Newness: The timeliness of the information. When was the information published or posted? Is it up to date? Is your topic in an area that requires current information (such as technology or current events), or will older sources work as well?