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ENGL 1301 -- Research Essay (Prof. Cervantes)

The purpose of this research guide is to help students find information for their research essay assignments in Prof. Cervantes's ENGL 1301 class.

Developing a Topic

What Is Your Research Topic?

What, precisely, is your topic? Answering this question is part of the pre-writing phase of this assignment. I suggest that you watch the above video and write a topic triangle for your assignment. Once you have a topic triangle developed, write a research question. Actually write it down. The act of writing helps make vague ideas concrete. So take your time to develop your research topic.


What Are Your Keywords?

Once you have chosen a topic and have Prof. Cervantes's approval for that topic, the next step for you to take is to generate keywords. Keywords are the search terms that you will use to find information about your topic. This video explains how to compose keywords from your topic.

You should do some preliminary research about your topic in order to develop keywords. I stress this because I often see students attempting to research a topic that they can't yet define. As part of this research process, you're going to encounter a lot of potential sources of information.

Take your time to carefully develop keywords for your research topic. Your research will be easier if you do so.

Searching CREDO Reference to Help Develop Keywords

Credo Reference is a database of specialized reference books, such as encyclopedias or dictionaries about one subject, such as economics, chemistry, or feminism. This database has many short articles about thousands of topics. It is thus very useful for giving you background information about your topic and, thus, ideas for keywords that you could use in your searches.

The above video shows you how to search Credo Reference. The link to this database is right below.

Finding Database Articles about Your Topic

How to Find Database Articles about Your Topic

It is now time to look for in-depth sources of information about your topic. For this purpose, we will use the library's databases. Have you used the library's databases before? If not, then I suggest watching this brief video tutorial.

Now let's look into one of the databases. We have about a hundred databases. We're going to start with one in particular. It's called Academic Search Complete.

Let's apply your keywords as search terms to the database Academic Search Complete. Have you used this database before? If not, then I suggest watching this tutorial video.

Just below this video you can find a link to the database Academic Search Complete.


How to Search for eBooks

We have two excellent ebook databases. These let you read full-text books online. The interfaces can be confusing, so I have included a tutorial video for each one.

The video above shows you how to search the ebook database titled EBSCO eBook Collection.

The video above shows you how to search the database ProQuest EBook Central.

MLA Documentation

You must cite your sources according to the MLA style of documentation.

This is our video that introduces MLA documentation. I urge you to watch the entire video carefully before starting to write your paper. It is much easier to cite correctly as you go along, rather than try to fix your documentation after you have written your paper.

This is our sample paper. You can model the formatting of your paper after this one. If you are unsure how to set up the formatting in Microsoft Word so that it fits the requirements for MLA formatting, you could instead download this blank Word document that has the formatting already set up for you.

This is our 2-page handout that summarizes the MLA style. It includes most of the types of sources that students commonly use.

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