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ENG 111

A guide to library based research for students in English 111 courses at Central Carolina Community College.

Researching an argumentative essay

Before you write, research!

light bulb icon1. Refine your topic.

Do you need to identify a problem and propose a solution?  Do you need to examine two sides of a controversial issue and come up with a unique perspective? 

Learn about the pros and cons of your topic, find background information related to its history, and identify subtopics you want to explore in your paper using Opposing Viewpoints. link will open in a new window

magnifier icon2. Gather Evidence

To support your argument, you'll need evidence that backs up your claims.

Examples of good evidence include:

  • Data and statistics (make sure they're current!)
  • Results of scholarly studies or experiments

Get started searching for evidence using the Library's Summon Search link will open in a new window

gears icon3. Analyze and Synthesize

Is the evidence you've found:

You probably won't find scholarly articles that cover exactly what you're trying to say.  

Instead, break your argument down into specific points and look for evidence that support those points.  It will be up to you to put all of your evidence together to support your argument.

check marks icon4. Create an outline

An outline helps you to organize your thoughts.  It's also a great tool to make sure you have the evidence you need to back up your argument.  

For each section of your paper, and for every claim you make, you should have evidence to prove your point.  If you don't have that proof, go back to step 4 and find more sources!


quotation marks icon5. Cite!

It's never too early to start working on your works cited list!  Create citations as you go so you're not stuck trying to build them at the end.  

Build citations and manage them all in one place using Summon's "Cite This Item" feature.  Look for the quotation marks! link will open in a new window

Remember, it's a cycle

Research doesn't flow from one step to the next.  

A good research strategy involves re-visiting each of these steps multiple times. Searching for and reading articles may cause you to re-think your topic.  An outline may highlight the need to find more articles.  Don't be afraid to move backwards!

If you need help with any step along the way, talk to your instructor or schedule an appointment with a Librarian.


question mark iconNeed a little extra help?

Contact your librarian. 

Or use the links below to get more in-depth help and information.

The types of sources you might use when researching controversial issues and current events:


News articles newspaper icon

Report on events as they are happening or just after.  

News articles are not scholarly but they can be a good place to learn about the most recent events related to your topic.  

Some good news sources in the library:

papers iconAcademic or Scholarly Articles **These are the best sources of evidence for your papers.**

Report on the results of a study or experiment.  They are written by the researchers who conducted the study.  This is called Primary Research.  

Scholarly writing takes time, so you may have trouble finding scholarly articles about very new issues or current events.  

Some good academic or scholarly article sources in the library:

building iconGovernment Publications 

Documents and data published by government agencies.

To find government documents, you can perform a Google search with the addition of tagged onto the end of your search.

For example: If you're looking for crime statistics, search Google for crime statistics​

Some good sources of government information:

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Evidence: The information that supports your argument. This can be data, statistics, or study results. Good evidence can be corroborated.  In other words, if you see the same results in more than one study by different authors, you can probably count on it.


people on seesaw icon

Bias: Using only the evidence that points to a specific, favored outcome. When scholarly writing shows bias, it's usually an article that leaves out data or evidence that would contradict the outcome the author wants to see.  



question mark iconNeed a little extra help?

Contact your librarian. 

Or use the links below to get more in-depth help and information.