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ENG 7 (Wong) - Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

Project Inspiration

The Research Process

Before starting an assignment, make sure that you have read it through completely and asked your professor for clarification on any parts that may be confusing.  Create a "plan of action" or "To Do" list with dates to make the assignment less overwhelming. 

Assignment Details:

  • MLA Format
  • Approximately 6-8 Outside Sources (Variety of Types)
  • Annotated Bibliography & Outline of Argument Structure, due on 4/16
  • Research Argument - Writing Assignment #5, due 4/26

Begin by exploring the information that has been published related to your reading: 


The best sources of information for presearch are reference materials -- encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other source books -- because they provide a basic overview, summaries, and keywords or search terms for a topic. Open a reference source and type in one of the subjects that you found in the last step (or use the index or chapter list to scan for a print book).  Keep your keywords general at this point and remember to capture any of the articles that help you formulate your research question or understand your theme better.  

Recommended Reference Databases:

  • Gale Virtual Reference Library: a library database that provides access to published reference sources for all types of subjects.
  • Credo Reference: another library database that provides access to published reference sources for all types of subjects.

Click here for a video on finding online reference materials using the library databases.

Developing a research question can make the research process more efficient, by providing a direction for your project.  Create a great research question by asking: Who?  What?  When?  Where?  Combine the answers to at least one of these questions with your topic to create a thoughtful question.

A good research question...

  • Has more than one variable (Who, What, Where, When).
  • Is open-ended.
  • Is not too broad or too narrow for the assignment.
  • Is one that you think you will find enough information to answer.
  • In-line with the assignment guidelines.

Click here to view a video on creating a research question.

Create a search strategy to help make your search more efficient.

A search strategy consists of a search formula and identifying places to search based on your information needs.

  • To create a search formula, identify the main keywords in your research question and join them together using the word "AND," then think of alternate words for each of your main concepts. Include them by using the word "OR." Remember that AND tells the database that you want both of those terms in all of the results and the word OR tells the database that the items can have either word.
  • To determine where to search, think of what types of information you need. Do you need in-depth information that books that you would find in the library catalog would provide? Do you need the narrow information that an article that you would find in the databases provide? Does the information need to be scholarly or popular? Subjective or objective? Once you have answered these questions, think of what tool to use (eReference, Catalog, Databases, of Open Web).

Click here to view a video on creating a search strategy.

Use materials to learn about a topic and to write or present about the topic. Use materials in your writing by citing directly using quotation marks, paraphrasing sentences or paragraphs; or by summarizing the entire item. Always make sure to use an in-text citation after each quote, paraphrase, or summary of an item, then have the full citation for the item you used in your Bibliography to avoid plagiarism.


  • Reference - Find using eReference databases and library catalog.  Click here for a video on finding eReference.
  • Books - find using the library catalog.  Click here for a video on finding books
  • Periodical Articles (including newspaper, magazine, and journals) -  find using periodical databases.  Click here for a video on finding articles
  • Videos/educational DVDs - Find using video databases and catalog.
  • Credible websites - Find using Google.  Examples of these can be news articles from well-known, respected news agencies, government (.gov) information, or not-for-profit organization information (.org).  Make sure to critically evaluate and be careful when citing.

Hint: A good research project will use many different types of sources (books, journal articles, magazine articles, reference entries, credible websites, etc.).  Not only does this mean you will have thoroughly researched your topic, but you will have many different types of information to use to support your argument.

Evaluate each resource that you come across, including websites, by asking the following questions:

Current?  Is this current to my topic?

References? Does the source have references to support its content?

Authority?  Does the author or entity support their statements with data or citations?

Appropriateness?  Is the source quality, length, and type appropriate for your needs?

Purpose?  Is this item written for the general public or for scholarly reasons?  Is it overly biased or commercial?

For more information about evaluating resources click here to view a video tutorial.

This is where you combine your own ideas with what you have learned from the resources/materials you found on your topic to tell the story of the issue or topic.  A great way to start this step is to create an outline, using the information you gathered from the resources, of what you would like to write about or present on the topic.  

A great resource for students having trouble writing, is our on-campus Tutorial Center.

You must cite the sources that you use to avoid plagiarism. All direct quotes, paraphrases, and summaries must be cited. In other words, all ideas or facts taken from some other writer, even though in your own words, must be cited. All creative works are copyrighted material, so it is PLAGIARISM if you use ideas from a resource without citing that resource

For each source collect…

  1. Author(s) and/or Editor(s).
  2. Date of publication.
  3. Article title.
  4. Publication Title (title of overall item that the article or item was published within).
  5. Publication information; including, edition, volume, pages, place, & publisher.
  6. URL or database name (if found online).

*Not all sources will have all of these elements & some sources may need additional elements, but this should be enough to get you started in Noodletools or to at least be able to track down your source.

Use the library's subscription citation tool, Noodletools, to help you create, organize, and manage citations and bibliographies.

Click here for a video on getting started with Noodletools.

View our Citation Help Library Guide for more information on citing and the different styles