Research Paper (ENG 102 - Cesario)

About This Guide

For your upcoming brief research paper (750 words) you will need to find 4 different sources. Use this guide for help with finding these sources, or contact a librarian if you need more help.

Choosing a Topic

MLA Citation

Thesis Statement Help

1. Establish an issue that your essay will address, or a question it will answer.

2. Take a position on the issue.

3. Introduce at least 3 supporting points to back up your thesis with evidence.



"Vegetarian diets improve health, help local farmers, and reduce carbon footprints."

"Light pollution is a serious problem that negatively affects animals, humans, and plants."


Library Emails

If you need help with this guide or have additional research questions, contact Stephanie at:

And you can reach any librarian at

Get the Facts! Start with Reference Sources for Background Info

Reference sources are encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, and similar sources where you go to find history and background information. CSN Libraries has many collections for different types of encyclopedia articles that can help you define and explain more popular topics.

Find Sources for Argumentative Essays/Research Papers

Argument essay assignments at CSN usually address controversial topics with opposing viewpoints. Pick a topic you can defend when confronted by an argument that supports a different point of view. This calls for you to investigate a topic and look for facts, statistics, and written evidence from scientific studies. You can search the literature found in library databases for evidence not only to support your own position but to understand other viewpoints and present a counterargument. Here are three databases to find articles by experts that support a certain point of view that also include background and supporting facts and figures.

Using Keywords to Search for Sources

Once you've narrowed your topic to a specific argument for persuading, you can develop good keywords to search within our library databases. You'll want to use the most important words in your argument, but sometimes it takes some "pre-research" to determine which words are important. Try these steps!

1) Find your arguments. Why are you trying to persuade your specific topic? If you're not sure of of what arguments support it, go to Google (for ideas, not for sources) and type in your topic. For example: "Americans should adopt a vegetarian diet."

2) Look for words. See what types of arguments and words keep coming up. For example, you might see several health articles about vegetarian diets lowering body mass index.

3) Double check! Just because you found it online doesn't mean it's true. Type the keywords that came up in Google into an academic library database to see if the evidence supports it. Keywords like: vegetarian diet AND body mass index OR BMI might be useful.

4) Try it in quotes! Common phrases can be put in quotation to search the words together. For example, "Vegetarian diet" will exclude sources that talk about being a vegetarian in one part of an article and being on a diet in another part. "Body mass index" is another common phrase that can be put in quotes to search.


And of course CSN Libraries has books for research too! You can find physical books at each campus library (we are open now with limited hours), or  you can find chapters of ebooks in our databases. Check out: