Starting a Research or Term Paper

[Finding a Topic] [Finding Articles on the Topic] [Writing the Paper]

[Formatting the Bibliography]

Doing a research or term paper can be a daunting task, but if you have an idea of where to start it can be easier. This list will enumerate a few of the sources available at the Jervis Library. It covers everything from finding a topic to formatting the bibliography. This is just a sampling of items available. If you need additional sources, please see the librarian at the Information Desk.


Finding a Topic
Print & Electronic Resources


ACLU Freedom Network.

This site provides the ACLU's views on controversial subjects with online press release archives and lists of organizations to contact for further information.

Culture Wars: Opposing Viewpoints. 306.097 CUL

This volume includes essays on many controversial issues as well as lists of journalarticles and books to consult for further reading, discussion questions, andorganizations to contact for further information.

Lamm, Kathryn. 10,000 Ideas for Term Papers, Projects, and Reports. REF 808.02 LAM

This book is primarily a listing of topics in alphabetical order. Under each topic is a list of corresponding possible questions. Each research question is assigned a level-of-ease indicator signifying the amount of information available for that topic. This is a terrific source to browse for a topic.

Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers. 808.02 LES

Miller, Walter James. 1001 Ideas for English Papers. REF 820.76 MIL

What makes this book so useful is that it is indexed by particular author or work. This allows the student to look up the work or author of interest for suggested research topics. Subjects are also indexed: choose a topic for a list of relevent works. This reference work covers drama, fiction, poetry, non-fiction, music, art science, history, and current affairs.

Social Issues.

Not only does this page from Multnomah County Library give a great list of topics, it also links to information on the web about each topic. Don't miss it!

Social Issues.

This is Jervis Library's supplement to the Multnomah Library's list of resources.


Finding Articles on the Topic


Using an Index

An index is a tool used to find articles pertaining to a particular subject. The library will not necessarily subscribe to all of the journals in which you find articles, so be prepared to wait for articles through InterLibrary Loan. This means you should prepare ahead of time for any assignments in order to get the best variety of information on your topic.

Print Indexes

The print indexes are arranged alphabetically by subject. Look up the subject to find a list of articles addressing the subject. Printed indexes usually cover a short period of time per volume, usually a year. One may have to look in many volumes to find articles on a topic. It may also be necessary to use a few different words to describe your subject before you find it. For example, you may use "transportation" and "cars" before finding that the relevant articles are listed under "automobiles." It may be useful to consult a thesaurus to find the right keywords.

Electronic Indexes

The electronic databases available at the library are always changing, so please ask a librarian for assistance. Also feel free to ask for assistance in getting to the databases or using them. The databases listed are ones with a general scope. They are useful for many different subjects and topics unlike the specialized print indexes mentioned above. Advantages of electronic databases over printed indexes include searching through many years at once and the ability to link two concepts together. For example, rather than looking up "alcoholism" and scanning the titles for articles that may address teenage alcoholism, an electronic database allows to search only for articles that involve both "teenagers AND alcoholism."


Journal Articles: Print & Electronic Resources

Newspaper Articles:



Writing the Paper


Cambridge Rindge and Latin School Guide to the Research Process. This site presents a detailed listing of the 23 basic steps in the research process.

Communication Skills Writing Program. This site provides review of editing, usage, and grammar as well as a section to quiz yourself. Created by Northern Illinois University.

Copyright Information from the United States Copyright Office.

University of Texas Crash Course in Copyright.

Harnack, Andrew. Writing Research Papers. 808.02 HAR

Produced for use with the Opposing Viewpoints series, this is an excellentsource for the high school or beginning college research paper. Subjects covered include taking notes, expanding your research to specialized resources,organizing the paper, evaluating the paper, presenting your research, and creating a bibliography using the MLA format.

Leggett, Glenn. Prentice Hall Handbook for Writers. 808.042 LEG

This book covers the mechanics of putting together sentences, putting thepaper together, and citing sources.

Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers: a Complete Guide. 808.02 LES

Lester, James D. The Research Paper Handbook. 808.02 LES

This covers writing a paper in detail from taking notes, creating an outline, and citing in APA style. It includes helpful examples of good writing, outlines, and bibliographic citations.

The New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage. 808.027 NEW

This volume covers the basics of putting sentences together, preparingcitations, dealing with foreign language materials, and final production of thepaper using a computer.

Terban, Marvin. Ready! Set! Research!: Your Fast and Fun Guide to Writing Research Papers That Rock! YA 808.042 TER

Turabian, Kate. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. REF 808.02 TUR

Turabian's manual is aimed at a an audience with intentions to write scholarly papers. Because of this, the manual is detailed and comprehensive with an excellent index. This is for the serious researcher; circulating copies areavailable.

Walker, Melissa. Writing Research Papers. 808.02 WAL

Sample papers in three disciplines (humanities, social sciences, and science) make this source an excellent choice. Also included is an example of a roughdraft and the editorial process. This text also covers bibliographic citation in MLA format.


Formatting the Bibliography


Li, Xia and Nancy B. Crane. Electronic Styles. REF 808.027 LI

Electronic Style tackles the issue of properly citing information found electronically including information from web sites, email messages,newsgroups, and full text databases. This is an indispensable source fortoday's research sources; a circulating copy is available.

 Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. REF 808.027 MOD

Although this covers grammar and structure of the research paper, its primaryuse is for detailed coverage of the use of MLA citation in bibliographies.

Schwartz, Linda Smoak. Harcourt Guide to MLA Documentation. REF 808.02 SCH

MLA Formatting and Style Guide

APA Formatting and Style Guide

Classroom Connect Guide to citing Internet resources


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Updated 5/20/10 by KDV