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English 110 - Meisel - Argument Essay: Topics & Background Info

This guide provides students with tips and suggested resources for finding sources for their argument essays for English 110 with Professor Meisel.

Choosing and Narrowing a Topic

Getting Topic Ideas

Pro/con databases and websites can be good places to get ideas about current issues:

  • Explore the Browse Issues section of the Opposing Viewpoints in Context database for topic ideas (you'll be prompted to log in with your Pipeline information from off campus).
  • Explore the issues on the ProCon.org website (this website is freely available and won't require a login).

Library reference sources are a great place to get topic ideas and find objective background information on your topic. They can also help you narrow your topic and discover keywords for further searching.

  • Explore the Topic Pages list in the Credo Reference database for topic ideas (you'll be prompted to log in with your Pipeline information from off campus).

Narrowing Your Topic

Try creating a concept map to help you brainstorm topic ideas and narrow your topic.

Finding Background Information

Library reference sources are a great place to get unbiased background information on controversial topics. They can also help you narrow your topic and discover keywords for further searching.

Online Reference Sources

To access this reference database from off campus, you will be prompted to log in with your Pipeline username and password.

Print Reference Sources

These reference books are available in the Luria Library. Stop at the Reference and Information desk for help finding them.

  • Violence in America: An Encyclopedia -- R 303.6 G685v
  • Encyclopedia of Racism in the United States -- R 305.800973 M663e
  • Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Social Issues -- R306.0973 S528e 2011
  • American Countercultures: An Encyclopedia of Nonconformists, Alternative Lifestyles, and Radical Ideas in U.S. History -- R 306.1 M678a 2009
  • Encyclopedia of Politics: The Left and the Right -- R 320.03 C283e
  • Encyclopedia of Social Problems -- R 361.1 P261e
  • Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment -- R 364.03 L665e

Narrowing a Topic

The following video provides strategies for narrowing a topic (from off campus you will need to log in using your Pipeline username and password):