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ENG W270: Argumentative Writing

Choosing a database for your topic


Below are suggested databases and subject guides that you could use to locate information about an issue that you plan to write about. Be sure to check out the other pages in this guide to learn how to search these databases; they typically do not work like Google. Also, be willing to try a few different databases. Part of research is about exploring!

Hover over the (i) next to each database name to find out more. If you want to focus on a specific discipline or field, check out that discipline's subject guide at the link below. Each guide should have a list of recommended databases for that area of study, beyond the few that I list here.


These databases are good starting places for all topics and subject areas:



These databases are most useful for background reading on a topic. Think of them as "academic Wikipedias." Some of them, like Opposing Viewpoints in Context (Gale) may have scholarly articles, but I'd encourage you to treat these as starting places for your research and not ending places. Be sure to get into the subject-specific and article databases as well. 


These databases typically have one or a few subjects in them. For example, SocINDEX focuses on sociology research. GenderWatch focuses on family studies, women's studies, and gender studies. If you're not sure where your topic may fall, start in the interdisciplinary databases listed above. If you find articles you like, often you can get an idea of the field that they come from by reviewing the journal title or abstract. If you're still not sure, I invite you to contact me or any of the subject librarians at UL. My information is on the left.

Using Wikipedia for Research

Beyond Wikipedia - Finding Background Information

Once you have a research question and some keywords, the next step is to explore the topic. This step is important because it will build your knowledge, you'll discover possible new avenues for your research, you'll pick up the jargon of the discipline(s) you are working with and start to gather keywords and other search terms.

The library has a Reference section on Level 2 that you can browse. However, materials on different topics are located throughout the library, so you may prefer to start with our electronic reference databases. "Reference" is a library term for materials like encyclopedias that have quick answers. Think of Wikipedia, for example. The links below will take you to some of our academic reference databases:

You can also use Wikipedia to gather information. As the graphic above shows, you can use it as a starting place, but don't end up there; your professors typically prefer that you do not cite Wikipedia as a source.