The Black Experience
The library faculty has created this page to assist you on your research paper for your government class.
Some suggestions before we get started:
1) Take time to generate keywords for your research. We recommend this tool as a good one to use to collect keywords that you can plug into the databases.
2) Take the time to read various sources BEFORE you generate your opinion or thesis. This will allow you to build a more nuanced, thoughtful argument.
3) No one site is going to have everything you need. You will have to synthesize information from experts, government sites, and databases.
4) While experts are important, don't rely solely on them to build your argument. Make sure you are including actual data (statistics from academic and government research, for example) in your argument.
5) You must use one or more primary sources. A primary source is firsthand evidence about an idea or issue. These are examples of primary sources: eyewitness accounts, legal documents and laws, statistical data, interviews, speeches, and empirical studies. Secondary sources differ from primary sources in that they talk about (analyze, interpret, summarize, critique, synthesize, etc) primary sources.
SOURCES TO GET STARTED: These are good places to go to get the basic information about your topic.
SIRS: SIRS is a good place to go if you are examining a topic around which there is a national debate (in other words, it won't have something for everyone). It provides opinion on both sides of the debate as well as other forms or related information. It will give you a good background of the debate, but it will not have the primary sources or deep expert analysis you will need as you examine your issue fully. Browse the topics to see if there is one related to your constitutional or criminal justice related issue. (Click here for login information if you're using SIRS off campus.)
EBSCO: EBSCO goes a level deeper than SIRS. You will need to use advanced search with your keywords and use the limiters on the left of the search results to get the types of results you need. (Click here for login information if you're using EBSCO off campus.)
Issues and Controversies in American History: This database is helpful in finding multiple views about issues in American history. Use the Subject Index or your keywords in an Advanced Search to find information about your topic.
SOURCES TO DIG DEEPER: These sites require time to search through, but from them, you will get high quality results.
RaceCounts.org: This site is an incredible resource for data about racial disparity in the state of California.
The Collection at the National Museum of African American History and Culture: This page is a good resource for primary documents.
Congress.gov: This site provides links to bills, current legislative actions in the House and Senate, and reports on the legislative record. See if you can find a helpful link on the landing page before you run a search.
OpenSecrets.org: This nonprofit, nonpartisan site tracks how money influences elections in the US. On it, you can find how SIGs and PACs affect political change.
FORMATTING YOUR PAPER TO MLA 8:
Purdue OWL MLA Formatting and Style Guide: This site has the rules for everything you need to know about MLA. It also has a model paper to show you exactly what an MLA formatted paper should look like, including a Works Cited.
We recommend using the tools at OWL or the MLA style guide to format your Works Cited entries because EasyBib and similar tools very often produce erroneous entries.
Make sure you didn't plagiarize. Use this tool to double-check!
COME SEE US: Questions? Need help? Please come see us in the library. Helping you learn how to dig deep into information, read it critically, and synthesize it into your own argument gives us great pleasure.