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This research guide is intended for students taking ENGL 101. It will help you learn how to use the library's resources for essays, research proposals, or research papers. Use the tabs for general research help, search strategies, and to learn about different kinds of sources and how to find them.
Reference & Research Help Hours
NCC librarians are available:
Monday to Thursday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
You can also request a Virtual Book a Librarian appointment to video chat on a day and time convenient to your schedule.
Our hours may differ during holidays, interim, winter, and summer sessions. Outside of these hours, our Ask the Librarian chat is staffed by Visiting Librarians from our after-hours service.
See more library hours.
Choosing a Topic
When picking a topic, consider:
- your professor's prompt and the assignment instructions
- picking something that interests you and that you want to learn more about
- something that will be interesting and relatable or important to your audience
- a personal issue, problem, concern, or experience, since you might have some existing knowledge about it
- if it's manageable and the right scope (not too broad but also not too specific)
- if it's likely to have research about it
Need some inspiration? Here are suggestions from library databases (you may need to log in with your MyNCC credentials):
- Topics (Credo Reference). Switch from All Subjects to a specific subject using the drop-down menu.
- Browse Topics (CQ Researcher). Choose a topic from the list to explore reports about that topic.
- All Issues A to Z (Issues & Controversies). Choose a topic to see an overview and pro/con articles written about it.
- Browse Issues (Opposing Viewpoints - Gale in Context). Browse the full list or choose a category from the drop-down menu to explore a specific subject.
Remember, you may need to revise and make adjustments to your topic as you start to find information about it.
When You Don't Know Anything About Your Topic
If you have absolutely no knowledge about a topic when you are starting your search, it may be helpful to become more familiar with it by searching for it on Wikipedia or doing a Google search. Be careful:
- Don't use any of the information you find in a Wikipedia article in your assignment.
- Don't use any information from a web site that isn't credible or appropriate for academic research.
What you can do instead:
- Gather ideas and terminology that applies to your topic.
- See the possibilities for where your research could go.
- Make notes of ideas and concepts to search for later in credible, reliable, appropriate sources.
- Check any listed references or external links -- those original sources might be appropriate to use.
- Check the library's resources (books, reference books, and articles) that may give you the same information.
See the Finding Books, Finding eBooks, and Articles in Library Databases tabs for help with library resources.