ENGL 101 English Composition 1 (Theme: Work)

Explore Topic Ideas

Find Ideas in Current Issues Databases

Browse for Topic Ideas in Holman Library's current issues databases.

Return to these databases to gather background information and to get a sense of the range of positions taken on an issue. 

  • Note: Be sure to look for sources in other databases as well. Content in Opposing Viewpoints is largely editorial.

How to Explore Gale in Context Databases

Strategy 1:

Search for ideas from a starting keyword. For example, if I search in Opposing Viewpoints for the keyword "work," I could go to that page to look over ideas. I also get ideas from the list of suggested topics when I type in "work." The image below shows that they suggest, for example, "women in the workplace." (click on images to enlarge) 

OV: Work as a search term

Strategy 2: 

Look over the broad topic areas on the homepage. This example illustrates the homepage for Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Note that work topics could fall within the category of business and economics.

OV - Browse broad topics

The image below shows just some of the 141 Topic Pages under Business & Economy, many of which sound interesting and relevant. Click on an issue for a topic page with resources covering a wide range of issues on the topic. 

OV: Possible topics on work

How to Explore Ideas in CQ Researcher

Step 1: Browse by general Topics and scroll through list of reports. The image below shows reports on the topic of "Employment and Labor."

  • Note: Be sure to pay attention to the date. If you see old reports, use "sort by" to select the "Most recent." (click on images to enlarge)

CQ: Browse by Topic



Use the Library Reference Collection to Explore Topic Ideas

Reference, or Subject Encyclopedias, are a good place to:

  • browse for and explore topic ideas
  • find a narrower focus from a broad starting topic
    • For example, if I start out with an interest in Global Warming, the library's online encyclopedia database suggests narrower subject terms, returns articles that focus on narrower aspects of my broad topic, and returns general overview articles I can skim to get ideas on how to focus.  

Once you start to learn about your topic, you will use reference sources to get informed about the basics. 

Strategy I: Use Gale eBooks/ GVRL to narrow a broad starting idea

Step 1: Type in your Starting Idea (click on images to enlarge)

(for example, unions or gig economy) 


Step 2: Explore Article Titles and Subjects
  • Scroll through the list of article titles to gather ideas about unions you could research.
  • Look at the title of the encyclopedia the article is from. That gives you a sense of its disciplinary perspective (for ex., psychology, economics, politics, etc.). 
  • Use the Subjects filter to get a sense of ways you might focus the broad topic. For example for unions I see strikes, activists, employee rights, and much more.


Step 3:

Skim through a relevant-looking article for ideas on how to narrow and focus. The excerpt below is from an article on labor unions in the Encyclopedia of Business and Finance. Possible subtopics include unions and negotiations or unions and collective bargaining. 

Labor unions article

Explore Current News & Culture Media for Ideas

In library news databases:

In Online Soures

Explore the Debate on Current Issues

Current Issues Databases

Look for Ideas & Arguments in Holman Library Current Issues Databases and in the News.

Viewpoints in Gale In Context Databases

In Gale In Context Databases (Opposing Viewpoints, Global Viewpoints, and Environmental Issues) explore VIEWPOINT essays for topic ideas from a range of perspectives.

  • The image below indicates there are 17 Featured Viewpoints and 159 Viewpoints in total on Universal Health Care.

Click on the image to enlarge.


Pro/ Con in CQ Researcher

In CQ Research look for the Pro/ Con section for a mini debate on an issue central to that report.

click on image to enlarge

Pro Con section in CQ Researcher

Newspaper Editorials & Opinions

Explore editorials, opinion, and commentary in the news. To find these sources, at Document Type, select Editorial, Opinion, Commentary. 

click on image to enlarge

At Document Type choose editorials, opinion, commentary, etc

Explore the Web

Strategy 1: 

Type an idea into a web browser and without opening any links, scroll through the results list for ideas you might explore.

Google Web Search

Strategy 2: 

The following websites are also a good place to get a sense of some current work and labor issues. This is just a sampling of what's out there. 

Topic Exploration is Research

Sample Starting Topic Ideas

There are so many work-themed topics to choose from! Here is just a sampling of ideas: 

  • hustle culture
  • gig economy
  • the great resignation
  • parental leave
  • workplace harassment
  • work in a specific field
  • monetizing creative work
  • starting a business
  • workplace relationships
  • customer relations
  • public relations
  • work from home
  • the role of work in identity construction
  • workplace discrimination
  • code-switching at work
  • universal basic income
  • burnout
  • work-life balance
  • the farming industry
  • first jobs
  • AI and the future of employment