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ENGL 101 - Spring 2020 - Cordero: Narrative Social Issues Essay


 Apple Podcasts

This research assignment mimics Sarah Koenig's research style from the Serial podcast.

Contacting Tim

Feeling frustrated?

Not finding what you need?

Having trouble using the library databases?

Not sure which search words to use?

Then it’s probably time to a
sk a librarian for some help.

Tim Aman, Reference Services Librarian


If you need immediate help, contact a librarian any time using our online chat service.

24/7 live chatchat 

(Evenings and weekends you may be chatting with a librarian from another college. Ask for an SCC librarian to contact you for follow-up if needed.)

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Recommended Sources and Searching Tips

The purpose of this research guide is to help students in Janelle Cordero's ENGL 101 class find credible and academic information sources.  Your assignment asks that you identify a social issue that is "relevant, controversial, and timely."  You will write a narrative that merges information on the social issue with a fictional character that you create.  This guide will suggest useful sources, search techniques and evaluation methods for researching your social issue.



Scholarly Encyclopedias - concise, general background information; articles often written by experts who are university professors

Periodicals - magazines, newspapers, scholarly journals

Controversial Topics

  • CQ Researcher - reports providing in-depth, unbiased coverage of political and social issues
  • Opposing Viewpoints - reference, news, magazine, and journal articles as well as statistics, videos, audio clips and recommended websites providing pro and con coverage of controversial political and social issues


  • eBook Collection - 150,000 ebooks selected for college and university researchers
    Browse the Table of Contents and Index to find the specific information you need.  It's not necessary to read the whole book.


  • When searching, use quotation marks to keep phrases together:  "mass incarceration'", "domestic violence", "human trafficking"
  • If you have too many results when using the library research databases try changing the search fields.  Here's an example from Academic Search Complete that shows the search fields changed to Subject Terms.  In other words, retrieved articles must really be about that subject, rather than just mentioning the words in a minor way.


Evaluating information and domain searching

WWW Test - ask these questions when determining whether a source is reliable, especially when Googling.

  • Who's the author?  Is the author an expert?
  • What's the nature of the information?  Is it objective or biased?  Is it based on careful research?
  • When was it written?  Is it appropriately up-to-date?

Note:  Evaluating information can be more complicated than answering these simple questions. If you need help thinking through the evaluation process, ask a librarian or your instructor.

Domain Searching

Try limiting your Google search to a particular domain (such as .edu or .gov which are restricted domains). You may find more reliable information.  Here are a couple of search examples:

"educational equity"

"human trafficking"