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English 101 Research Guide: Research Essay Assignment

Resources to assist English 101 students with their research.

Topic Development

Topic Development is a crucial first step in your research. Briggs Library has many resources and tools that can help. Use the link below to explore ways to generate topic ideas as well as broaden and narrow a topic. 

Creating Keywords

The next step once you have your topic is to create strong keywords. These will help you search for your topic in library databases. Use the links below to find resources to help you create helpful search strategies. 

Interlibrary Loan

Although Briggs Library has an extensive collection, you may need items that are not available at the Library. No worries! You can request those articles, books, and other materials through Interlibrary Loan.

Keep in mind that the process may take several days for articles and ebooks and longer for print books. We encourage you to start your research early!

Many of our databases have an Interlibrary Loan Request button for articles not available in that particular database. Before submitting the loan request, be sure to check our Journals List for the title of the source or periodical (i.e. New York Times).

Evaluating Sources

Applying a set of standards to information sources will help you judge their credibility and relevancy. The evaluation process will depend on the purpose for which you are using the information. Good research involves using multiple sources of information. In addition to applying the CRAAP criteria, compare the information you find with that in other sources.

  • Currency

    Is the information up-to-date enough for my topic?

  • Relevance

    Does the information pertain to my topic and cover it in enough depth to meet my needs?

  •  Authority

    Who is responsible for the content and what are their qualifications?

  • Accuracy

    Is the information reliable and free from error?

  • Purpose

    Is the information presented without bias or is the bias acceptable for my purpose?


Click the link below for more resources about evaluating sources.

Source Types

It is important to understand the characteristics of different source types. This will help you understand when and why to use certain sources when you're doing research. Use the links below to learn more. 

Popular and Scholarly Periodicals

Below are some identifying features of popular and scholarly periodicals. Note that sources occur on a popular/scholarly continuum. Some sources are clearly popular or scholarly while others have mixed features.  Determining a source's popular or scholarly orientation will help you evaluate its appropriateness for your research purpose. For example, using some popular sources may work for an introductory undergraduate project, while all scholarly sources may be required for more advanced work, especially in a student's major field of study.

Popular Periodicals--Magazines

Scholarly Periodicals---Academic Journals

Written by journalists

Written by experts in their field

Reviewed by an editorial staff

Often reviewed by peers within the discipline

Purpose to inform, persuade, or entertain

Purpose to present research findings, in-depth studies

General audience

More educated or professional audience

Language aimed at a general audience

May use vocabulary specific to the field

Tone varies (serious, humorous, satirical, etc.)

Tone serious

No bibliography or works cited

Bibliography or works cited for articles

Contain many photographs, illustrations, drawings

Few graphics, many charts and graphs

Extensive advertising

Selective advertising

Articles usually short (1-5 pages)

Articles usually longer

Examples: Time, Cosmopolitan, New Republic

Examples: Journal of Psychology, Comparative Literature, Journal of Political Marketing

Finding Books

Print Books

The library has over 750,000 books in the shelves on the 3rd floor, all of them available for check-out. The best way to search for them is by using Quick Search, the search box on the library homepage. Watch the video below for more information on how to that. 


The library has collections of eBooks that can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection; log in with the same credentials you use to access article databases. In most cases, you can view the book right in your browser but some collections require you to create a free account with them in order to borrow and download texts. If you have trouble, ask a librarian for help. 

Finding Magazine and Scholarly Articles

Finding Newspapers

Finding Statistics

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