Reference and Digitization Librarian
Al Harris Library
Southwestern Oklahoma State University
ref desk: (580) 774-7082
Instructional Services Librarian
This guide offers helpful links and advice for researching and writing expository and argumentative essays for your 1213 English Composition II class. It features:
- Advice on topic selection
- SWOSU Databases
- SWOSU Catalog
- Information about choosing quality web sites
- Help with writing the Works Cited page
Choosing a Topic
One of the hardest parts of writing a paper is choosing a topic. Sometimes you will be given a list of topics from which to choose. At other times, you may be given a set of broad guidelines from which to choose. Basic areas for possibilities include: arts and humanities, science and technology, social sciences, education, current affairs, and popular culture.
According to Dr. Mike Palmquist, author of The Bedford Researcher, "Narrowing your focus to a single issue lays the groundwork for developing the research question that will frame your thinking about that issues and guides your efforts to gain a comprehensive understanding of it." This is basically your goal. Do some exploration in order to locate a topic that is of interest to you, consider your purpose for writing, and decide what question you want to answer through your research.
Fortunately, many books and web sites that list topics in a vast, variety of subject areas are available for your use. A good place in the library for you to begin your search is in the area of reference. General and/or subject specific encyclopedias are excellent sources for background information that could help you find a topic. Book series such as Great Events from History and books edited by Frank N. Magill cover a variety of subjects.
Several excellent general encyclopedias are available to you online through the library. They are:
The complete text and images of the print version is available to you through this link. The online version also includes multimedia sound and video resources, an atlas, web links, and news updates.
Oxford Reference Online Premium (including Literature and Western Civilization Collections)
The Oxford Reference collection includes English dictionaries and thesauruses, bilingual dictionaries, quotations, maps and illustrations, timeslines, and and encyclopedia.