English 110 – Roman

social issues word map

About this guide

This guide provides students with research strategies and recommended resources for research on social problems. Use the tabs to navigate through the pages of the guide.

Your Assignment

Write a research paper identifying a current social problem and posing solutions to that problem. Choose a topic that 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. This research paper must be subjective rather than objective: in other words, 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

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

Online Reference Sources

This database is 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 800 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

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.
  • Opposing Viewpoints: An excellent source of pro/con information, providing opinions and other information on hundreds of social issues. Includes 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 Expanded: Searches several well-respected national newspapers, including: 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

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.

Podcasts

Explore a podcast:

Videos

Explore your topic in a TEDTalk:

Citing Your Sources

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