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English 102 Research Guide

Browse for Possible Topics

Step 1: Before you start your research you will want to have a topic that is interesting to you

If you are in need of a topic or want to see what is available, check out some of the Library resources available to you below.



Topic Finding Tips:
  • Browse for hobbies, interests, current events, and so on. Pick something that genuinely interests you.
  • Investigate topics and issues that connect to your major or what you see yourself doing after college.
  • Think about the last argument you had and how right you want to be. Research it

Get Some Background Information

Step 2: Get some background information on your topic

Know as much as you can about your topic before diving into scholarly sources. Encyclopedias, magazines and newspapers are great places to start learning about your topic. They can also help you to start thinking about keywords, experts on a topic and find references to articles that you can use to build your search strategies.

Credo Reference is an eyclopedia database that provide you with a great place to start your research. Try a search out below.

Search Credo Reference


Research Tips:
  • In articles, look for expert terms or other ways to describe your topic; you can use those as search terms to expand your search and different sources.
  • Email articles to yourself to save time.

Focus Your Topic

Step 3: Find the scope of your topic and start focusing in on what you want your Research Question to be

You only have so much room to write about a topic in your paper. So start to think about what you find important about the topic, what questions or issues about the topic are interesting, what demographic you want to focus on, etc....

CQResearcher can help you find a topic, to get background information, or to narrow your topic down to a good research question.


What is a Research Question
  • a clear, focused, concise, complex, and arguable question around which you center your research
  • the question should be open-ended and should lead to inquiry about a topic
  • keep your research focused and on track
  • the answer to this question will turn into your thesis statement, or the main argument of your paper

Research Tips:
  • Use the Browse By Topic link to glance over available topics.
  • Use Keyword search box at the top of the page to find reports.
  • Use broad search terms when using the keyword search box.

Start Finding Articles

Step 4: Start some preliminary searches and trying out different keywords to find articles

At this stage you will probably want to focus on magazine and newspaper articles. A good starting point for this kind of search is Points of View Reference Center which can help you to locate a variety of sources (journals, newspapers, magazines) on your topic.

Search Points of View Reference Center

Advanced Search

Research Tips:
  • Use Browse by Category to help narrow your topic
  • Use Keyword search box at the top of the page.

Find Scholarly Sources

Step 5: Use what you have learned to start finding scholarly sources on your topic

To justify your arguments your will need to include scholarly sources into your paper. A good place to start finding these sources is Academic Search Complete.

Search Academic Search Complete

Advanced Search

Research Tips:
  • Click on the Full Text box or use Find It @ WVU to get full-text articles
  • Choose the Peer-Reviewed (Scholarly) box to retrieve peer-reviewed articles

Search the Library's Collection

Search WVU Libraries and Beyond

Advanced Search

Use Worldcat to search the WVU Library collection. This will give you access to books, journals, and articles across the majority of our databases as well as our catalog.

Research Tips:
  • Use the Refine options in the left-hand column to limit your results.
  • Click on Peer-Reviewed to limit your results to scholarly sources.
  • Use Illiad to request any sources we do not own.

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Request a Time for Individual Research Help
  • Need help with finding research topics, finding sources, or using citation systems like MLA or APA?
  • Get individualized research assistance with your research.
  • Request a time that fits with your schedule.
  • Librarians are generally available 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM.
  • Please note that we do not proofread papers nor help with writing difficulties.
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