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ENG 111: College Composition I (Young-Loudoun)

This guide has been created by librarians at NOVA to help you find books, articles, videos, and other types of resources related to this program of study. Direct comments to Julie Combs,

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For individual research help, schedule an appointment to meet with a librarian.

Argument and Persuasion Paper

You have been assigned an argument and persuasion research paper. An argumentative research paper consists of an introduction in which the writer clearly introduces the topic and informs the audience or reader on exactly which stance they intends to take; this stance is often identified as the thesis statement. An important goal of the argumentative research paper is persuasion, which means the topic chosen should be debatable or controversial.

Use the tabbed pages on the left to help you locate books, articles, and other argumentative resources.

For more detailed assignment information, please contact your professor.

Getting Started with Research

Do you prefer taking notes on paper or on a computer?

How will you keep track of your research?

Do you have a few topic options in mind? If not, try the Gale Opposing Viewpoints database and click on Browse Issues (top-mid right, under the "lightbulb" icon). You can also try the Issues & Controversies database and select All Issues A to Z (top right sidebar).

If you have a very general topic interest like "politics," you can search for "politics" (or something more specific) in the library catalog or look through the bookshelves (also called "stacks"). Many books about politics are in the "J" section (library books are arranged by topic on the shelves).

Questions to ask to refine or develop your topic:

  • What do you wonder about this topic?
    • What might be the top 10 factual questions you would want answered?
  • When did this topic first occur to you?
    • Where were you at the time?
    • Which questions led you to this topic?
    • Which sources or experiences made you think of this idea?
    • Why, do you think?
  • What might be another way of phrasing or explaining what you want to learn or figure out?

Topic questions modified from Rea and Mullaney, Inside Higher Ed.

Once you have a general topic in mind, brainstorm 5-10 related search terms BEFORE you start your research. This will help you define your research question.

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)undocumented, or DACA.

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.

Save what you find (print it, email it to yourself, or copy and paste information and citations into a document) and keep it in a place you can easily find it again.