Resources for English Research – General Research

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About this Guide:

This guide provides students with recommended resources for conducting research on a variety of topics for English Courses. Use the tabs above to navigate through the pages of the guide. For research assignments having to do with works of literature (novels, stories, poems), try using the guide called Resources for English Research – Literary Criticism.

What is “General Research”?

In many English classes you will write a research paper on a topic or issue selected by your teacher, or a topic or issue of your choice. The purpose of your paper may be to inform, to answer a research question about the topic, to test a hypothesis, to make an argument, or to persuade the reader of a particular point of view.

Paper Writing Assistance:

Consult these campus resources for help with writing and editing:
About SBCC’s Writing Center
The SBCC Learning Resource Center Writing Tools Online

Need More Help?

Have a question? Stop by the Reference Desk, or contact a librarian by phone, text, or chat for more help.Contact Us

Finding Background Information

Reference books are a good place to begin your research or to find inspiration for an assignment. The print reference books are available in the Luria Library Reference section. The library also subscribes to some online reference sources, listed below.

Print Reference Books

This is a sample of the type of sources we have in the library. Talk with a librarian if you need help finding background information on your particular topic!

  • Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Social Issues – R 306.0973 S528e 2011
  • Encyclopedia of Human Rights – R 323.4 F735e 2009
  • International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences – R 303 I61 2001
  • Encyclopedia Latina: History, Culture, and Society in the United States – R 973.0468 S798e
  • Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures Around the World – R 304.8 E53e
  • Dictionary of American History – R 973.03 A194d 2003
  • Encyclopedia of Politics: The Left and The Right – R 320.03 C283e

Online Reference Books

When you click to access these resources from off campus, you will be prompted to log in with your Pipeline username and password.

    Credo Reference: Contains the full text of nearly 600 encyclopedias, dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, and other reference books.
    Gale Virtual Reference Library: Search by keyword to find general information on your topic. This resource also contains entire ebooks about individual authors and their work in the “literature” section.

Finding Books

Search the library catalog (books+) for books on your topic. Some sample searches are provided below. Separate search terms with the word “and.”

    climate change and california
    abortion and legislation
    chicano movement and united states


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. 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.

For newspaper articles, try searching one of these sources:

  • National Newspapers Expanded: Provides the full text of five of the most read and widely-respected newspapers in the U.S: New York Times; Los Angeles Times; Wall Street Journal; Christian Science Monitor; and Washington Post.
  • Newspaper Source Plus: Provides cover-to-cover full text for 35 national and international newspapers. The database also contains selective full text for more than 375 regional (U.S.) newspapers. In addition, full text television and 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

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?

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

How to Cite

MLA citation style is most typically used when writing papers in the liberal arts or humanities. Double check with your professor about which citation style is required for your assignments.

Citation Guidelines

The following resources will help you construct MLA citations: