English 110 – Walker

social issues word map

About this guide

This guide provides resources for students to conduct research for the Essay 3 Research Paper for English 110 with Cynthia Walker. Use the tabs to navigate through the pages of the guide.

Your assignment

A 7-8 page research paper on a current social or environmental issue that concerns you. The topic should be something that interests or concerns you, something that you can draw on a range of sources, and something that you can develop an argument around, not just simply present other people’s ideas.

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


The words you use to describe a 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. Or, try some of the search words listed below.

Social Issues

  • capital punishment
  • civil rights
  • gangs
  • gun control
  • police misconduct
  • police shootings
  • poor
  • poverty
  • violence
  • human rights
  • gay rights
  • immigration
  • minimum wage
  • rape
  • women’s rights

Environmental Issues

  • agriculture environmental aspects
  • air quality
  • climatic changes
  • consumer behavior
  • consumption
  • factory farms
  • fossil fuels
  • global warming
  • nature – effect of human beings on
  • overpopulation
  • pesticides
  • pollution
  • refuse and refuse disposal
  • renewable energy sources
  • waste
  • water-supply

Reference Sources

Reference sources are a great place to start to get topic ideas, narrow a topic you’ve already chosen, get background information, and help you identify keywords to use when searching for books and articles.

Print Reference Sources

The following books are available in the Luria Library Reference section.

Social Issues

  • 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
  • Encyclopedia of Social Problems — R 361.1 P261e
  • Encyclopedia of Gangs — R 364.1066 K82e

Environmental Issues

  • Natural Resources — R 305.8 S556a
  • Encyclopedia of World Environmental History — R 363.7003 K92e
  • Encyclopedia of Environmental Science — R 363.7003 M743e
  • Recycling Sourcebook — R 363.7282 G151r
  • Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate Change — R551.6 F946e 2010
  • The Water Encyclopedia: Hydrologic Data and Internet Resources — R 553.7 F465w

Online Reference Sources

This reference source is available online and will require you to log in with your Pipeline account information from off campus:

  • Credo Reference A database that includes the full text of over 760 reference books.


Search the library catalog for books on your topic.

Search Tips

  • Try adding terms such as “social aspects” or “environmental aspects” to words related to your specific topic.
  • Your search results will include articles as well. Limit to books by choosing the appropriate box from the menu to the left of the results.


Search for articles in the following databases. These resources will require your Pipeline account information when you access them off campus.

  • Academic Search Premier: This multi-disciplinary database provides full text for more than 4,600 journals, including full text for nearly 3,900 peer-reviewed titles. PDF backfiles to 1975 or further are available for well over one hundred journals, and searchable cited references are provided for more than 1,000 titles.
  • Environmental Science/GreenFILE: A collection of scholarly, government and general-interest titles covering all aspects of human impact to the environment, including content on global warming, green building, pollution, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, recycling, and more.

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.


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?