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GOVT 2305 -- Dr. Scruggs -- Political Opinion Paper

The purpose of this research guide is to help students find information sources and cite them correctly for Dr. Scruggs's Policy Opinion Paper.

Your Topic

What Is Your Research Topic?

In this class, you are studying the federal government of the United States and its policies. You have a wide number of topics to consider, but Dr. Scruggs requires that your topic fit the unit you are studying at the time that you turn in your paper.

So your first step is to at the five units of the course in D2L. If there is an issue that is important to you, then you must submit your paper during that unit. For example, let's say that you would like for there to be term limits for U.S. Supreme Court Justices or that the number of judges be expanded beyond the current 9. Then you must submit your paper during Unit 3, which is when Dr. Scruggs teaches about the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here's another example. Let's say that you would like for the US to withdraw from NATO, which is a military alliance. You must submit your paper during Unit 5, which includes a section on foreign policy.

I urge you to browse the 5 units in the course content in D2L. What topics seem interesting to you? What opinion do you have? Once you have a topic, email me to ask for help.

Introductory Articles from Databases

Database Basics

Now that you have keywords, it's time to search the databases. Have you used the databases before? If you don't have recent experience with our library's databases, then I suggest watching this introductory video above.

How to Search Issues & Controversies

It's helpful to gain background information about the topic about which you are writing. What is the controversy? What are the arguments on different sides of that controversy? What evidence exists to support each side? An excellent source of introductory information is the database Issues & Controversies. The above video shows you who to search it. There is a link to the database below.

Background Research

How to Get Background Information from Credo Reference

As you explore the introductory articles in Issues & Controversies, you may encounter unfamiliar terms and concepts. To continue one of my previous examples: if you encounter an argument in favor of withdrawing from NATO, it would be a good idea to know what NATO is and what obligations and benefits membership provides. In that case, an introductory article from the database Credo Reference, such as this one, is helpful.

The above video shows you how to search Credo Reference.

In-Depth Articles from Other Databases

Searching Additional Databases

Academic Search Complete, the Military & Government Collection, and the Legal Collection are databases with with newspaper, magazine, and scholarly journal articles. They are structured the same way, so this video tutorial will show you how to search all three.

MLA Documentation

How to Cite Your Sources in MLA

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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