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ENGL 1030/1035 (University Writing & Research)

A guide for University Writing and Research

Getting Started with Research

Topic Selection sources are good for just exploring various topics of interest, or to find a particular approach to a topic. 

imageBackground sources are good for providing historical context or overview of a topic, definitions of terms or concepts, and/or providing perspective on a topic. Magazines, newspapers, reference sources, and general books and eBooks are good sources for background information.

The Credo Mind Map tool is a good way to explore topics and find background sources of information.

Credo Logo

The following link will take you to a guide listing various types of news sources, as well as information to consider when evaluating news sources (e.g., bias, fact checking, etc.). If you need assistance locating a news source, or determining the bias or fact checking criteria of a news source, you can contact a library (chat or Schedule an Appointment).

Answer the following 5Ws when narrowing a topic -- Who?What?Where?Why?, and When?. The following is an example of how a topic might be narrowed:

Topic:   Immigration

Narrower topic: Immigration policy

Narrower topic: Immigration policy reform

Narrower topic: Immigration policy reform (What?) -- Public opinion (Who?) -- United States (Germany, United Kingdom, France, etc.) (Where?)

Narrower topic: Immigration policy reform (What?) -- United States (Where?) -- 20th century (When?)

This 1 minute, 20 second video illustrates the practice of narrowing one's research and writing topic. For information on how to find sources for your topic through the NNU Riley Library, contact or stop by the Research Help Office in the Learning Commons (Room 133).

Information appears in different sources at different times and for different purposes. Considering the nature of your topic will determine the types of sources you will search for and utilize in the research and writing process. The following 3 minute, 44 second video demonstrates the process through which information appears and how long the process may be. The video was created by Polk Library, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.

Why is it important to cite your sources?

  • To show where you got your information -- the reader can see you have set a good foundation for your research
  • To give credit to others who helped shape your ideas
  • To avoid plagiarism. See NNU's Academic Integrity Policy below
  • To help your reader locate the sources you used