English 155

Joel Garcia

The following resources are designed to support English 155 students with finding articles and books for their argumentative essay. Students will also be directed in finding library catalog and Internet sources on the topic of legislative history.

Overview of the Research Process

As you begin your research, consider taking the following steps.

1. Create a research question or statement; an example could be:

  • The current legal drinking age encourages binge drinking, thus the legal drinking age should be lowered to 18.

2. Create a list of search terms (also known as keywords) that will assist you in finding information about your question or statement

3. Identify the types of periodicals and other sources you need for the assignment (number of books or articles from library subscription databases)

4. Select and search in the library catalog for books and appropriate subscription databases for articles

5. Cite your sources in MLA Citation Style

Searching in the Library Catalog

Searching the library catalog for books can be a good place to start your research.

How to use the Library Catalog

  • Using your list of search terms, search the Oviatt Library Catalog for books
    1. Keyword vs. Subject search. These two things sound the same but work differently when you are searching, so be sure to try both.
    2. Title or author search if you know exactly what book you need.
    3. Write down the location and call number (the call number serves as an address, it tells you where the book is located in the library). Once you find the book on the shelf, look at the other books around it. Similar books will be shelved in the same area.
  • Finding Books in the library - reading a call number

Ways to search for books on the topic of changing the legal drinking age:

You may want to start with a KEYWORD search entering the word(s) that represent the main idea of your topic. Examples of keywords for this topic are listed below. SUBJECT searching in the catalog can also lead you to find books on this topic. Enter any of the Library of Congress Subject Headings listed below and select "subject" from the dropdwon menu to perform your search.

  • Drinking age
  • Drinking age -- law and legislation -- United States
  • Teenagers -- alcohol use -- United States
  • Teenagers -- alcohol use -- United States

Ways to search for books on the topic of legislative history:

You may want to start with a KEYWORD search entering the word(s) that represent the main idea of your topic. Examples of keywords for this topic include: legislation, history, U.S., lawmaking, laws, congress, legislative process etc. Mix and match these terms in the library catalog to retrieve books on this topic. SUBJECT searching can be another effective way to find books. Enter any of the Library of Congress Subject Headings listed below and select "subject" from the dropdown menu to perform your search.

  • Bills, legislative -- United States
  • California -- politics -- government -- 1846-1850
  • Law -- California -- history -- 19th century
  • Law -- United States -- history
  • Legislation
  • Legislation -- California -- history -- 19th century
  • Legislative histories
  • Legislation -- United States
  • United States -- Politics and government

The following books can be found in the library catalog:

Guide to Congress / CQ Press. JK1021 .C565 2000

Masters of the House: Congressional Leadership Over Two Centuries / Roger H. Davidson, Susan Webb Hammond, Raymond W. Smock. JK1319 .M37 1998

Congress and Law-Making: Researching the Legislative Process / Robert Goehlert. KF240 .G63 1989

Legislative Principles; The History and Theory of Lawmaking by Representative Government / Robert Luce. JF423 .L78 1971

The following websites may be useful when researching legislative history:

Project Vote Smart

How a Bill Becomes a Law

Kids in the House

OpenCongress.org

Researching Legislative History

Database Searching Tips

Searching for information in the library databases works differently than searching for information on the Internet. When searching in library databases, sentences can not be entered in the search box(es) to search. (You will get very poor results, if any.) Instead, library databases require users to enter search terms with the Boolean operators - "AND," "OR," "NOT" connecting each search terms/keyword. See the library's Boolean Searching page for a more detailed description and other helpful information.

Searching for Articles Through Databases at the Oviatt Library

The following databases may be useful to search for information for an argumentative essay. You will need your campus User ID and Password to enter these databases if you are not in the library. (This is the same User ID and Password you use to access the portal and your CSUN email account.)

Gale Powersearch (Thomson) - Provides cross-searching of multiple Gale databases: General OneFile, Expanded Academic ASAP, General Reference Center Gold, Health Reference Center Academic, Gale Virtual Reference Library, Business and Company ASAP, and Opposing Viewpoints in Context. May limit to full-text search, within a date range and editorials.

Proquest Newspapers - Offers full-text access to over 600 US and international newspapers, hundreds of other news wires and news sources; dates vary. May select specific newspapers to search, within a date range and editorials.

Opposing ViewPoints in Context - Provides full-text database that includes magazines, journals and newspapers of the minority, ethnic and native press in the United States. Provides an alternative perspective to mainstream media.

CQ Researcher - Examines a single "hot" issue in the news each week. Topics include political, social, environmental, technological as well as health and education to name a few.

Academic Search Elite (EBSCO) - Offers full-text articles from journals and magazines, may limit to full-text search, within a date range and editorials.

General OneFile (Gale) - Includes Expanded Academic. Full-text articles from journals and magazines, may limit to only search full-text, within a date range and editorials.

Evaluating Websites

You will want to evaluate carefully all Internet resources you use to support your argument. The Oviatt Library provides information within its Research Strategies pages to assist in effective evaluation.

Citation and Evaluation Guides

Reference Services and Library Hours

Ask A Librarian - get your questions answered here 24/7 or contact me at coleen.martin@csun.edu

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