English 110 – Walker

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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, email, or chat for more help. Find our contact information on the right side of this page.Contact Us

Library Tutorials

Interested in learning more about the library on your own?
Explore the library’s online tutorials.

Choosing Keywords to Use in Your Search

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 in the library catalog and databases.

Watch the video below for a short tutorial on keywords, including some good strategies for combining them.

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

Keyword Examples

Below are some examples of good keywords related to social and environmental issues. If you have trouble finding information on your topic, ask a librarian for help choosing the best keywords to use in your search.

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.

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.

Social Issues

  • Violence in America: An Encyclopedia – R 303.6 G685v
  • Encyclopedia of Racism in the United States – R 305.800973 M663e
  • Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Social Issues – R306.0973 S528e
  • 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

Environmental Issues

  • Encyclopedia of American Environmental History — R 333.720973 B874e 2011
  • Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste: The Social Science of Garbage — R 363.7003 K92e
  • Encyclopedia of Pollution — R 363.73 G259e 2011
  • Encyclopedia of Sustainability — R 363.7003 C699e 2010
  • Encyclopedia of the U.S. Government and the Environment: History, Policy, and Politics — R 363.7056 L753e 2011
  • Encyclopedia of Water Politics and Policy in the United States — R 333.91 D196e 2011
  • Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate Change — R551.6 F946e 2010
  • Green Issues and Debates: An A-to-Z Guide — R 333.7 S333g 2011


Search the library catalog (books+) 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 Complete: This database provides full text for more than 8,500 periodicals (magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals), including full text for nearly 7,300 peer-reviewed titles, in all subject areas.
  • Environmental Science/GreenFILE: A collection of scholarly, government and general-interest titles covering all aspects of human impact to the environment.

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 today’s hottest social issues. Includes continuously updated viewpoint articles, topic overviews, full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, and other sources.

See the Luria Library’s database descriptions page for a full list of library databases.

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.