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Resources for Information Gathering
Use these Library Resources to find background information on your topic. This will help you create and refine your research question.
Gale Virtual Reference Library
The Library's Wikipedia! Authoritative encyclopedias for background information on numerous subjects.
Created by Congress, well-researched reports that look at all sides of an issue. Great place to find the questions an issue might raise.
Issues and Controversies
Reports, background information, articles, and more; all related to current controversial issues.
Gale Opposing ViewPoints in Context
Viewpoints, articles, and statistics about numerous contemporary issues.
Books can be Your Best Friend in Information Gathering!
Key Reference Books can be found on the Key Reference Shelf in the Library.
These volumes provide subject overviews and opposing viewpoints on certain aspects of dozens of controversial issues. Great place to see what kinds of questions are being discussed about a topic and how those questions are being answered.
Also make sure to search the Library catalog for relevant print books and Ebook Central for electronic books.
These Websites are Also Good Information Gathering Resources.
If you want to use Wikipedia, make sure to watch the "Using Wikipedia for Academic Research" video. Remember never cite a Wikipedia article, only use for background info and to find better sources.
A nonprofit, nonpartisan research and citizen education resource, founded by social scientist, Daniel Yankelovich and former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. Includes statistics, results of polls, policy proposals, and much more.
Award winning nonpartisan site on controversial issues.
English 101 Themed Guides
Is your English 101 class following a theme? Then you might want to check out these themed guides for more specific resources:
Focusing Your Topic
The best way to Focus Your Topic is to ask questions about it. Consider the five W's when trying to figure out what you want to research:
Who? Limit your topic to a specific person or group.
What? Limit your topic to a particular aspect of the topic or discipline.
Where? Limit your topic to a particular place or region.
When? Limit your topic to a particular period of time.
Why? Ask why the topic is important.
Remember you can limit your topic in more than one way. For example limit it to a "who" and a "what" or a "when" and a "where".
Mix and match the five Ws until you've created a Good Research Question.
What Makes a Good Research Question?
What makes a good research question?
- Narrow Focus
- Answer is not obvious
- You can actually research it (there is evidence out there for you to find)
- Question is clear and has a single focus
Need some help?
The physical Learning Commons is closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the College transitioning to online instruction. Library and Tutoring services are still available digitally.
- Search our FAQs or contact us if you need help with research.
- Tutoring is available online through your Blackboard Course. More information can be found at our Online Tutoring Page.
- If you need help finding access to computers and/or the internet, send an email to email@example.com or call 301-846-2469.
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