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English for Speakers of Other Languages Research Guide (ELL-095): Getting Started

A guide to resources for persuasive papers on controversial topics


The library website is the portal to all the resources & services available through the library.  Explore it using the link below.

The library orientation is a self-guided audio tour of the library + a tour of the library website.

Quick Links

Finding a Topic

Choosing a topic can be the most challenging part of an assignment.

  • Choose a topic that interests you and will sustain your interest
  • Be flexible--the topic might need to be modified (narrowed or broadened) depending on the information available
  • Keep the topic manageable:
    • narrow and focused enough to be interesting, but
    • broad enough to find enough information for the assignment
  • Narrow your topic by:
    • geographic region
    • culture
    • time frame
    • event or aspect
    • discipline or subject or
    • person or group
  • Browse through your text book for ideas
  • Browse interesting subject sections in the reference collection for topic ideas
    • Identify the location of interesting subjects using the Library of Congress System link below
    • Read a general encyclopedia article on your topic
    • Read an article in a specialized encyclopedia on the subject

These two current issues databases are great resources for choosing a topic because they provide a browsable topic list:

Other resources

Research Help

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Emily Hampton Haynes