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ENG 111: College Composition I (Pierce-LO)

American Dream Research Paper

ENG 111 Research Paper

Research Paper: Students will complete a comprehensive, 7-10 page research paper expanding upon an issue of interest related to our theme of the quest for the American Dream. In previous assignments, students defined the American Dream and argued on its attainability. This project will allow students to continue or change their argument based upon legitimate evidence/data. Students can focus on issues related to employment, education, housing, immigration, healthcare, federal, state, or local laws, etc. Use of this thematic focus will enable students to develop a deep understanding of one aspect of pathways and barriers to the American Dream while mastering the process associated with composing a large research paper.


1. Do you prefer taking notes on paper or on a computer? How will you keep track of your research?

2. Have you selected a topic? Brainstorm 5-10 related search terms BEFORE you start your research.

For example: Search terms for Racial Inequality could include specific instances of inequality between races such as incarceration rate(s) or wealth disparity. Search terms for Immigration could include related words or terms like refugee(s)undocumentedDACA; Search terms can also include names of people, events, or places: while researching Climate Change you could use terms like Greta ThunbergParis Agreement, or Hurricane Ida.

*See Creating Your Search Statements for more ideas about how to search your topic most effectively.

3. Save what you find (print it or email it to yourself) and keep it in a place you can easily find it again.


Background Information

Good starting points for background information are reference "books," such as dictionaries, thesauri, and encyclopedias. You may choose Wikipedia to get a sense of a topic. However, Wikipedia is best used by going to the source material (references) listed at the end of each article.

Our library includes another database you may know, Britannica. Britannica has an online version, ProCon, that can also be helpful for identifying information relevant to your essay topic, helping to limit its scope. 

Another good source for this stage of your research is Credo. The Credo Reference database includes a great MindMap tool to help you brainstorm topic ideas.