English 110 – Monda

social issues word map


About this guide

This guide provides students with recommended resources for Research Papers 2 and 3. Use the tabs to navigate through the pages of the guide.

Your Assignment

Two research papers on a social issue (local, national, or global) of your choice:

A short paper, 4 pages, that defines the social problem and its causes, as well as begins to explore its negative consequences. For this paper you must use at least three quality sources (i.e. sources that are longer than five pages, well-documented, published by a reputable organization, etc.), two of which should be articles (from scholarly journals, newspapers, or magazines), and one of which should be a book or an in-depth web site (you may use a third article if you can’t find relevant book or web site).

An expanded paper, 7-8 pages, that expands on the problem’s definition, causes, and consequences, and addresses possible responses or solutions. For this longer paper you must use at least three more quality sources.

The topic you choose should be one that really interests you, one that allows you to draw upon a range of sources, and one that can be explored in a paper of just 7 to 8 pages in length. Remember: you will need to develop an argument or interpretation rather than simply present information from your sources.

Paper Writing Assistance

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

Your topic should be focused, but not so narrow that you cannot find enough information about it. For topic ideas, look at some of the reference sources on the “Background Info” tab of this research guide.

Research Questions

A research question articulates exactly what you want to know about your topic, and helps guide your research. Your research question should be specific, but open-ended.

The video below offers some tips for creating open-ended research questions.


Keywords are the words you type into a search box to search for information on your topic. The words you use to describe your topic may be different from the words used by the library catalog and databases. If you have trouble finding information on your topic, ask a librarian for help choosing the best keywords to use in your search.

Watch the video below for a short tutorial on keywords.

Video courtesy of Ray Howard Library at Shoreline Community College (CC BY-NC 3.0 US)

Reference Sources

The following resources will help assist with picking a topic, narrowing a topic, finding background information, and finding keywords and subject headings. 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

Electronic Reference Sources

These resources are available online. If you access these resource from off campus, you will be prompted to enter your Pipeline username and password.

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


Search the library catalog for books you can check out on your topic.


  • If you add the phrase “Social Conditions” to your searches, you will have more successful results.
  • If you search for your author by SUBJECT BROWSE in the library catalog, you will have more successful results.


To find articles from periodicals (newspapers, magazines, and academic journals), search the library databases. To access databases from off campus, you will need to log in with your Pipeline username and password.

Search your topic in:

Search for current event articles in this database of one periodical title:

Search for newspaper articles in:

Other databases you can search within:

For a full list of library databases click here.

The library recommends these databases for more resources, including articles, broadcast, reference books:


Explore a podcast:


Explore your topic in a TEDTalk:

Evaluating Websites

Finding good websites for college research can be challenging and time-consuming. Be sure to evaluate any websites you find on your own, using the P.R.O.V.E.N. Test for Evaluating Sources:

  • Purpose: The reason the information exists
  • Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs
  • Objectivity: The reasonableness of the information
  • Verifiability: The truthfulness and accuracy of the information
  • Expertise: The source of the information
  • Newness: The timeliness of the information

Recommended Websites

For help locating reliable information online, see the Finding Credible Web Sources research guide.

How to Cite

Be to keep track of your sources while you are searching and as you incorporate quotes and paraphrases into your paper.