ENGL 127 Writing: Social Sciences (Martin)

For students in Aley Martin's section of English127

Online reference sources

Using reference databases

Use the databases below to search for short, background articles on an array of topics. Be sure to search by simple keyword and to jot down any useful terms or related topics you find. You can later search the terms in other, more complex sources.

The Role of Reference Sources

Why Reference Sources?

For an example of a reference article that can help you get started on a research project, check out the article linked below: "Media and Gender Stereotypes", from the Encyclopedia of Gender and Society, ed. Jody O'Brien. Sage. 2009.

  • Start with reference and other background information to gather key concepts, definitions, issues, and sub-topics. These also serve as search terms or keywords

The screenshot below shows how even its opening paragraph provides key terms, definitions, issues, concepts and more.

(click on image to enlarge)

results showing the ways a reference article provides the most basic facts on a topic

Why Start with Reference?

Why start with reference?
  • To gather background information that provides context, history and insight into your subject.

  • To get a sense of key issues, concepts and terminology.

  • To gather key words (or keywords) you can use to search for relevant source material on the subject.

Learn about the broad topic first. Then you will understand where to focus your research and discussion more deeply.

Online Reference Books

A few sample titles:

Below are links to specific reference titles that you may want to explore to find a topic or find your reference source.