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ENG 112: College Composition II (Cook-Loudoun)

This guide has been created 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.

Goals for Our Library Research Session

Goal 1. Identify at least 5-10 key concepts that interest you about your topic, and form your research question.

Goal 2. Identify at least two ways to get research assistance from the library.

Goal 3. Find at least two sources in class today. Save them so that you can find them later. It's OK if you don't end up using them in your final paper!

Remember, what you learn about conducting research for this class can be applied to research for other classes or even work-related research.

Form a Focus for Your Essay

Every essay should have a reasoned argument that you use your paper to prove.   This thesis statement should make a definite and limited assertion that requires further explanation and elaboration and indicates the emphasis of your paper and your position about the subject. 

In 1-2 sentences, the thesis statement outlines the central purpose of your essay.  A strong thesis expresses your conclusion about the subject (to be addressed and debated in the rest of the paper). 

TIP: Place your thesis statement in the first paragraph so the reader can understand the purpose of your paper or essay.

Use of secondary statements, narrowing the focus of the thesis, will make it clear to any reader that you are aware of disagreements among scholars and experts concerning the subject. Evidence of others can support your ideas and help you refute the views of those who disagree with your thesis. 

To give your paper a sense of direction, you will want to use broad statements at the outset and gradually narrow the focus, progressing from the general to the specific. 

The focus of your paper should evolve as your research progresses. As you uncover new information and alter your opinion on the subject, feel free to revise your thesis.

Focus your Research Approach

Identify the main concepts of your subject and make a list of keywords with which to begin your search. 

Linking your subject with “key” or “major” or “trends” or “developments” should limit your search to overview-type articles with which to begin your investigation.

Test your topic by looking up the keywords in background sources.  Encyclopedias are an excellent starting point.

If necessary, narrow or broaden your topic.  Limiting your subject by time period or geographic region can make an overwhelming topic more manageable. 

Identify the key facts you will need to uncover and determine the time frame of material needed (retrospective, contemporary, or a combination of both). 

What kind of ideas should your record?  Make a preliminary list of the subtopics you would expect to find in your reading. Consult this list as you read, jotting down the facts and theories that help you answer your question and provide you with other people’s opinions about the subject.