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Subject Guide      


This guide will provide you with the library and information resources you need to successfully complete your English Composition research assignment. If you need any further assistance, please use our Ask A Librarian service

Before deciding on a topic, explore some background information in the following sources:

Finding background information

Encyclopedia and Dictionaries

African Americans at war: an encyclopedia
NR 355.0092 S966a 2004

Black Women In America : an historical encyclopedia
NR920.72 B627

Encyclopedia of African American business history
NR338.6422 E56

Encyclopedia of American gospel music
NR782.254 E56

The encyclopedia of American crime
R364 S573e

Encyclopedia of American education
R370.973 U574e 2007

Encyclopedia of American religion and politics
R 322.1097 D626 2003

Encyclopedia of religion and ethics
R203 H357

Encyclopedia of the arts
R703 R939

Encyclopedia of capital punishment
R 364.6603 G878

The encyclopedia of child abuse
R362.760 C592

Encyclopedia of China: the essential reference to China, its history and culture
R951.003 P448

Encyclopedia of gangs
R364.1066 E564k

Encyclopedia of juvenile violence
R364.3609 E56f

The encyclopedia of understanding alcohol and other drugs
R362.29 O13

Encyclopedia of the great composers and their music
R927.8 C951

Encyclopedia of marriage and the family
R 306.8 E56

The encyclopedia of obesity and eating disorders
R616.852 C344

The encyclopedia of phobias, fears, and anxieties
R616.852 D636

Confederate emancipation: southern plans to free and arm slaves during the Civil War
973.714 L665

Do prisons make us safer?: the benefits and costs of the prison boom
365.973 D631r

The color of the law: race, violence, and justice in the post-World War II South
N 364.0899 O13c

The Middle East and the United States: a historical and political reassessment

Encyclopedia of terrorism
R 303.625 C729

E-Commerce Concepts: Illustrated Introductory
658.84 C889

Tobacco: People, Profits and Public Health
362.266 T629

Prevention primer: An encyclopedia of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention terms
362.29 C397

20,000 years of fashion; the history of costume and personal adornment
R746.9 B753


Virtual Reference Library (TEL)

Exploring topics

How Do I choose a topic?

The first step in writing any paper is coming up with a good topic. A good topic is one that you find interesting and that meets the assignment requirements. The resources listed here will help you find and narrow a topic.

New York Times Topics


The New York Times has helpfully grouped its coverage by topic.

Open Democracy Topics


This web site offers high quality articles, comments and opinions on current issues in world politics, cultures, and so on.


This is a great site to give you some ideas of current topics and how to put those topics into a research question.

Finding Books

Online Catalog
You may need to find books or book chapters for your research topic. The library catalog is the place to go to do that. This Resources Search Guide, it will teach you how to use the Catalog.

The catalog will open to keyword searching. If you already know the author or title that you are looking for, you can change your search options.

Once you have located the materials that you want, use this How to Read Call Numbers Guide,

You will find where the materials you need are located in the library.

Finding articles

You will need to find articles for your research topic. The databases listed below will help you find those articles. These are multidisciplinary databases that cover a broad range of topic areas, and are a great place to start your research.


EBSCOhost databases and discovery technologies are the most-used, premium online information resources for tens of thousands of institutions worldwide, representing millions of end-users.

EBSCOhost® is the world's most-used reference resource. It is a customizable, intuitive search experience designed to cater to user needs and preferences at every level of research, with over 300 full text and secondary databases available.EBSCOhost also serves as the foundation for EBSCO's Complete Discovery Solution, which provides users with access to an institution’s entire collection via a single, customizable entry point.

serves thousands of libraries and other institutions with premium content in every subject area


Issues & Controversies
It explores more than 800 hot topics in business, politics, government, education, and popular culture.


Current Events: Hot topics

It covers the hot topics of social studies research, science & health research, sports research, arts & literature research and people research.

Special Reports: Issues in the News

It has a collection of articles covering an array of perspectives on the key current issues in the media.

Popular vs Scholarly Articles

    Popular Articles (Magazines)
  • Are often written by journalists or professional writers for a general audience
  • Use language easily understood by general readers
  • Rarely give full citations for sources
  • Written for the general public
  • Tend to be shorter than journal articles
Examples of Popular Magazines:

    Scholarly Articles (Journals)
  • Are written by and for faculty, researchers or scholars (chemists, historians, doctors, artists, etc.)
  • Uses scholarly or technical language
  • Tend to be longer articles about research
  • Include full citations for sources
  • Are often refereed or peer reviewed (articles are reviewed by an editor and other specialists before being accepted for publication)
  • Book reviews and editorials are not considered scholarly articles, even when found in scholarly journals
Examples of Scholarly Journals:

Writing Resources

Books at Lane College library

MLA Handbook for Writing of Research Papers
R808.02 G463m

An Innovative Instructional Handbook for Building
Writing Skills
808.04 L438 CEL

How to Write Great Essays
808.042 S795

Building Essays: a Reader-Centered Writing Guide
808.042 D713

Literature and the Writing Process
808.04 M167l 1999

The Elements of Style
808.42 S927

The Elements of Basic Writing with Readings
808.04 R845 CEL

Current of Inquiring: Readings for Academic Writing
808.0427 C976

How to Write a Lot: a Practical Guide to ProductiveAcademic Writing
808.042 S587h

American Writers: a Collection of Literary Biographies
R810.9 A512 V.1-V.4

MLA Style and Guide to Scholarly Publishing,
R808.027 G437


The Art of Writing

Shortcuts for the Student Writer
by Silverman, Jay.; Hughes, Elaine.; Wienbroer, Diana Roberts.
Publication: New York McGraw-Hill Professional, 2005.

Gothic Writers: A Critical and Bibliographical Guide
by Thomson, Douglass H.; Voller, Jack G.; Frank, Frederick S.
Publication: Westport, Conn. Praeger, 2002.

The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-century American Short Story
by Gelfant, Blanche H.
Publication: New York Columbia University Press, 2000.

American Ethnic Writers
Magill's Choice
by Peck, David R.; Irons-Georges, Tracy.
Publication: Pasadena, Calif. Salem Press, 2000.

Notable African American Writers
Magill's Choice
Publication: Pasadena, Calif Salem Press, 2006.

Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook
by Nelson, Emmanuel S.
Publication: Westport, Conn Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999.

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