English 110 – Monda

social issues word map

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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, email, 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

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.

Books

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

Hints:

  • 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.

Articles

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:

Podcasts

Explore a podcast:

Videos

Explore your topic in a TEDTalk:

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. Source Evaluation Questions to help you determine whether the sources you find are credible:

  • Purpose: How and why the source was created. Is it intended to educate, inform, persuade, sell, or entertain? Do the authors, publishers, or sponsors state this purpose, or try to disguise it? Why was this information published in this particular type of source (book, article, website, blog, etc.)? Is the source designed for the general public, students, or experts?
  • Relevance: The value of the source for your needs. Does the type of source meet your assignment’s requirements? Does the information answer your question, support your argument, or add something to your knowledge of the topic? Is it too general or too specific? Is it too basic or too advanced?
  • Objectivity: The reasonableness and completeness of the information. Do the authors present the information thoroughly and professionally? Is it fact or opinion? Is it biased? Do the authors use strong, emotional, manipulative, or offensive language? Do they leave out, or make fun of, important facts or alternative perspectives?
  • Verifiability: The accuracy and truthfulness of the information. Do the authors support the information they present with strong factual evidence? Do they cite or provide links to other sources? What do experts say about the topic? Can you verify the information in other credible sources? Does the source contradict itself, include false statements, or misrepresent other sources?
  • Expertise: The authority of the creators of the source. What makes the authors, publishers, or sponsors of the source authorities on the topic? Do they have related education, experience, or other expertise? Do they provide an important alternative perspective? Has the source been reviewed in some way, such as by an editor or through peer review?
  • Newness: The age of the information. Is your topic in an area that requires current information (such as science, technology, or current events), or could information found in older sources still be useful? When was the information presented in the source first published or posted? Are newer sources available that would add important information to your understanding of the topic?

Recommended Websites

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

MLA, 8th Edition

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