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GOVT 2306 -- Prof. Cochran

The purpose of this research guide is to help Prof. Cochran's students find information sources for their issue papers and cite those sources correctly in the MLA style.

Choosing a Topic

What Is Your Research Topic?

What would you like to write about? If you have a burning issue that is important to you and is directly related to Texas politics. then propose the idea to Dr. Scruggs. You can also browse topics to consider at the links listed below.

Keywords

How to Develop Keywords

Watch the video above.

You can think of keywords as a breakdown of a topic in a way that searchable information tools, such as databases, can understand. We use keywords as search terms to retrieve from databases the information that we want. Following the instructions in the video, write out a list of keywords that you think might be helpful to you. For example, if you want to write about gun control in Texas, consider:

  • Gun control
  • Gun rights
  • Concealed carry and gun
  • Constitutional carry and gun
  • Open carry and gun

This isn't enough, though. You're not looking at this issue from the national level, but the state level. So you should add a word that would help drive toward articles about, specifically, Texas:

  • Gun control and Texas
  • Gun rights and Texas
  • Concealed carry and gun and Texas
  • Constitutional carry and gun and Texas
  • Open carry and gun and Texas

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.

How to Use Issues & Controversies

When doing research about government policies, at least in the context of the United States, you're participating in a broad conversation across our republic. It's helpful to see what other thoughtful people have said about the government policy you are advocating or opposing. For that task, I recommend exploring Issues & Controversies, which provides concise, well-balanced explanations of controversial subjects. It is, however, focused on the United States as a whole, not Texas. So think of using this database as an introduction to your topic. If, for example, you're looking at gun control in Texas, it might be helpful to look at arguments about gun control at large.

 

In-Depth Articles from Other Databases

Searching Additional Databases

Academic Search Complete is a large, general purpose-database of newspaper, magazine, and scholarly journal issues on a wide variety of subjects. Newspaper Source is a database of over 200 newspapers around the United States, including Texas. Try searching for articles published within the past 2 years using your keywords. The video below shows you how.

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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