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ENG 1320: College Writing II: First Steps

Picking your topic IS research!

Tips for Success

Gathering background information, getting a general overview, and building context for your topic are some of the first steps to doing research. You may also pick up related terms, concepts, and synonyms you can use in your searching.

Some good places to look for background information are encyclopedias, textbooks, websites, newspapers, and magazines.

Background Information

The following databases focus on current issues and trends and reference materials in various disciplines. They are helpful when beginning to research a topic that you are not familiar with, and can help give context to complex issues. 

CQ Researcher

In-depth, unbiased coverage of health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, economy, and global affairs. Reports include 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.

Credo Reference

Searches over 900 reference books, including encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauri, and subject-specific reference books for articles about your topic.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context

Current social issues presented in topic pages with a variety of data on differing points of view.

Points of View Reference Center

Multiple sides of current issues, such as Iraq or stem cell research, for debates and position papers. Each topic features an overview/objective background , point (argument) and counterpoint (opposing argument). Contains leading political magazines from both sides of the aisle, newspapers, radio & TV news transcripts, primary source documents (such as testimonies to congress) & reference books. Includes "How to" section for writing.