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ENGL 1301 SO Stafford: Starting Your Research

Research guide for Tyesha Stafford's ENGL 1301 class.

Help with your research paper

Research Tips

Once you have chosen your topic, the next step is to begin collecting information you can use to support your writing. Your instructor will tell you how many sources you are required to use for each essay. Here are a few steps you can take that will make this research process easier.

  • Know something about your topic. This sounds like a no-brainer but it will help in several ways - it can help you choose search terms (unique words for the topic) that can be used for searching, it will also help you evaluate the reliability of the information you find with your search.
  • Narrow down your topic. A broad topic is always more difficult to research than a specific one. A search like  "global warming" will get you thousands of search results, so you will spend a lot of time wading through those results to find what you need. A search like "global warming" and solutions will find fewer results and they will be more specific to your topic.
  • Investigate different resources. You will miss out on lots of information if you limit yourself to using resources you can find online - whether databases or internet. The older your topic is, the more useful you will find books for your research. Books are generally more thoroughly researched and will give you more in-depth information than articles found in databases.
  • Check your sources with your instructor. If you are not sure if the sources you are using are acceptable, contact your instructor during their office hours and ask that they take a look at what you have found thus far. If you are heading down the wrong road this can save you many hours of redoing your research!
  • Ask a Librarian! Each TCC Library has professional researchers (librarians) available in-person and online to help students with the research process. They can help you focus your research, sometimes suggest keywords to use for your topic, and guide you to the best resources available. To ask for help online, send an email to:

Internet or Databases?

The Internet is good for a lot of searches and source types.  For example, if you need very current information or news and commentary, Web searching is a good strategy.

Databases are special -- they are collections of information (usually articles from magazines and scholarly sources) made available to subscribers.  Databases are very valuable because they contain and maintain specific collections, and are relatively easy to search.  We use the Web to access Database collections, but articles accessed are not considered "online" or "web" sources in the same way that a Wikipedia entry is.

Suggested Topics

Most instructors have some topics that they will not allow you to research for your persuasive papers, therefore you will not find abortion, gun control, animal experimentation and capital punishment on this list of topics. Please check with your instructor to make sure that your chosen topic is suitable for your persuasive paper.

Suggested Topics:

Abstinence Education


Adoption from Foreign Countries

Adult Children & Independence

Advocacy Groups

Affirmative Action


Agricultural Subsidies


AIDS Drugs in Africa

Airline Subsidies

Alcohol Abuse & Youth

Allergies in Schools

Alternative Energy Exploration

Alternative Medicine

Amazon Deforestation

Arab-Israeli Conflict

Arctic Drilling

Armenian Genocide

Artificial Insemination

Arts & Culture

Arts & Music in Public Schools

Arts Funding

Assisted Suicide


Athletes & Drugs


Auto Insurance

Balancing Work & Family

Bank Bailout

Banning Books

Bans, Trans Fat

Behavior Drugs & Children

Big Bang Theory

Big Box Retailers

Bilingual Education

Biological & Chemical Weapons


Blood Diamonds

Body Image & the Media

Boomerang Children

Border Walls

Bottled Water

Bullying in Schools

Burning of the Flag

Campaign Finance

Canadian Pharmaceuticals

Capitalism vs. Socialism

Carbon Offsetting

Carbon Trading


Casinos, Native American

Celebrity Activism

Cell Phone Bans

Cell Phones in School

Censoring Student Newspapers


Censorship & Democracy


Chemical & Biological Weapons

Child Labor

China as a Superpower

Chinese Exports

Christianity in the U.S.

Church & State, Separation of

Cigarette Smoking


Citizens' Rights

Civics & Government

Civil Disobedience

Cleanup of Toxic Dump Sites

Climate Change


Coal-Burning Power Plants

Colleges & Early Decision

Colony Collapse Disorder

Complementary Medicine

Condom Distribution

Conflict Diamonds

Conscientious Objectors

Conspiracy Theories

Contaminated Food

Corporal Punishment

Cosmetic Surgery


Crime & Punishment



Daylight Saving Time

Decline of Newspapers

Decline of Reading

Deforestation in the Amazon

Developing Markets

Diamond Mining

Discipline of Children

Discount Stores

Distance Learning

Distribution of Condoms

DNA Profiling

Domestic Violence

Draft vs. Volunteer Army

Dress Codes

Drilling in the Arctic

Drug Policy

Drug Testing for Sports

Drug Testing in Schools

Dual Credit

Early Admission

Earth & Environment

Eco-friendly Consumerism

Economic Aid

Economic Stimulus Package

Education Standards

Electoral College

Electoral Reform

Electronic Surveillance

Electronic Voting

Embryonic Stem Cells

Emergency Contraception

Emerging Economies

Eminent Domain

Endangered Species

Enemy Combatants

Energy & Conservation

English as National Language



Evolution in the Classroom

Executive Pay


Factory Farming

Faith-Based Initiatives

Family Issues

Farm Subsidies

FDA Approvals & Regulations

Federal Identification Cards


Female Priests


Flag Burning

Flood Insurance

Food Contamination

Food, Organic

Foreign Language Graduation Requirements

Foreign Military Bases

Foreign Policy

Forensic Genetics

Foster Children Programs


Free College Tuition

Free Internet

Free Speech

Free Trade

Fuel Efficiency

Funding for the Arts

Gambling, Legal


Gay & Lesbian Adoption

Gay Marriage

Gays in the Military

Gender Equality

Genetic Fingerprinting

Genetic Screening

Genetically Modified Foods

Geneva Convention

Genocide, Armenian

Global Democracy

Global Economy

Global Issues

Global Warming




Government Access to Records

Government Funding

Government Funding & Sports Facilities

Government Protest

Green Consumerism

Green Jobs

Greenhouse Effect


Health & Medicine

Health Classes

Health Insurance

Helicopter Parents

Highway Carpools

Highway Tolls

HIV/AIDS Status & Privacy

Holistic Medicine

Home Schooling

Homeland Security & Civil Liberties


Homosexuals in the Military

Honey Bee Population

Housing Developments & Water Shortages

HPV Vaccine

Human Cloning

Human Papillomavirus Vaccine

Human Rights


Hurricane Katrina/FEMA

Identity Theft



Immigration Restrictions



Imported Product Safety

Importing Drugs from Canada

Income Tax vs. Sales Tax

Industrial Agriculture


Insecticide Spraying

Intellectual Property Rights

Intelligent Design

International Adoption


Internet Censorship

Invasive Species


Iraq War

Ireland, Northern

Irish Republican Army

Israel & the Palestinians

Junk Food in Schools

Jury Duty

Juvenile Offenders


Labor & Economics

Labor Unions

Laptops in Schools

Legalization of Marijuana

Legalized Gambling

Library Records


Lobbying Reform

Mandatory Drug Testing

Marine Resources

Media & Body Image

Media & Communications

Media Bias

Media Consolidation

Medical Insurance


Medicine & Ethics

Mexican Border Security Policy

Military Service

Minimum Driving Age

Minimum Wage Increases

Missile Defense

Mortgage Crisis


Music & Arts in Public Schools

Music Censorship

Music Downloading




National Identification Cards

Native American Casinos

Native American Rights


Natural Theology

Needle Exchange Programs

No Child Left Behind

No-Fault Car Insurance

Noise Pollution

Nonnative Species


North Korea

Northern Ireland

Nuclear Power

Nuclear Proliferation

Nuclear Weapons


Obesity & Health Insurance

Ocean Policy

Oil in the Arctic

Online Degree Programs

Ordination of Gay Clergy

Organic Food




Ozone Layer




Parental Consent

Parents on College Campus

Parole System

Patriot Act

Pedophilia, Penalties for

Performance Enhancing Drugs

Pharmaceuticals Advertising

Pharmacies & Controversial Drugs

Physical Education


Plastic Surgery

Pledge of Allegiance

Political Parties


Population Growth

Pornography Laws

Power Plants, Coal-Burning

Prayer in Schools

Preemptive Strikes

Preventable Disease & Vaccine Supply

Prisoner Rights

Prisoners of War

Privatization of Education


Protest, Government

Public Health Assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa

Public Transportation

Quality of Life

Race & Culture

Racial Profiling

Raising the Minimum Wage

Reading, Decline of

Regulating Political Blogs


Renewable Energy

Reparations for Slavery

Restitution to Native Americans


Right of Property

Rights of Convicted Felons

Safety of Imported Products

Salary Cap

Sales Tax vs. Income Tax

Same Sex Marriage

School Choice

School Prayer

School Uniforms

School Violence

Schools & Education

Sentencing for Juvenile Offenders

Separation of Church & State

Sex Education

Sex Education in Schools

Sex Offender Laws

Sex Workers

Single-Parent vs. Nuclear Families

Slavery Reparations

Smallpox Vaccinations


Social Integration

Social Networking Sites

Social Security


Sports Discrimination & Women

Sports Facilities & Government Funding

Standardized Testing

Stem Cell Research


Strip Mining

Sub-prime Mortgage Crisis

Subsidizing HIV/AIDS Drugs

Substance Abuse

Surrogate Mothers

Sustainable Development


Tax Cuts

Tax Reform


Teachers' Rights

Teaching Evolution

Teen Driving

Term Limits

Third World Relief

Thompson, Fred (Republican)

Title IX

Tolls on Interstates

Tort Reform


Toxic Cleanup

Trans Fat Bans

Transportation, Public

U.S. & World Democracy

U.S. Borders

U.S. Constitution

U.S. Space Program

U.S. Withdrawal From Post-WWII Bases

Underage Drinking


United Nations

Universal Health Care

Uranium Enrichment

Vaccine Supply

Vaccines & Health Hazards


Vending Machines


Video Games


Violence in Schools

Violence in the Media

Violent Protest

Virtual Worlds & MMORPGs


Volunteer Army vs. Draft

Volunteering & Public Service

Voting & Elections

Voting Machines

Voting Rights for Felons

Vouchers, School

Wage Standards

War & Peace

War in Afghanistan

War on Terror

War Profiteering

War Protests & Free Speech

Water, Bottled



Wind Power


Women Priests

Women's Issues

Women's Rights

Wrongful Convictions & DNA

Year-Round School


Zero Tolerance