ENGL 127 Research Writing: Social Sciences (Schaefer)

This research guide is for students in Amanda Schaefer's English 127: Focus on Family & Home

Sample reference titles in print and online

Sample Reference on family and housing issues:

Online reference sources

Key Reference Databases

Use the following online reference databases to find electronic reference articles:

Start with Reference

Start with what you know

Start your research with broad keywords that capture what you want to learn about.

I can start with a simple phrase or I can connect ideas with AND. In this database, it may also be useful to limit to a general area of study. Image 3 shows that I scrolled down the first screen and chose Social Science at "To Collection."

Click on the images below to enlarge them. 

Image 1: In the first, I search just "American Dream." 

Image 1: American Dream

Image 2: In the second, I focus on something I want to learn about the American Dream: "American Dream" AND inequality

American Dream AND inequality

Image 3: In both searches, I scrolled down the page and limited my search to Social Science at Collections.

Limit to the Social Sciences at "to collection"

Identify Useful Keywords

Read and learn as you do your research. In this example, an introductory article on the ideology of the American Dream provides me with important concepts and key words I'll use in my research. 

  • As you read and learn, you will also identify a focus for your research.

For an example of a reference article that can help you get started on a research project, check out the article linked below: "American Dream Ideology," from Race and Racism in the United States: An Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic, 2014.

American Dream Ideology

The article ends with a short list of recommended sources for "Further Reading."

further reading

CQ Researcher Reports

CQ Researcher Reports are well-researched and well-documented informative reports on current issues across the disciplines. 

To find reports on your topic or to browse for ideas:

  • Search by broad keyword OR
  • Browse by topic or report title. 

CQ Researcher-browse

STEP 3: Select a Report. BE sure to pay attention to the date! Some reports are old.

CQ-Choose a report


STEP 4: Open Report. Navigate through the contents on the left.

CQ Report - Student Debt

Why reference?

Start with Reference

parenting and child development 2021

Reference sources are a great place to start your research.

What is reference?

A reference collection is a set of books, databases and other items that provide background information on a topic.

A reference collection includes general sources such as dictionaries and encyclopedias. In college libraries, reference collections include specialized subject encyclopedias such as Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family.

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.

  • To find leads to key sources on the topic.

Learn about the broad topic first. That can help you find a focus for your research and discussion.