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English Composition I & II: Home

English Composition I

ENC 1101 is a course in essay writing and research, incorporating some review of basic grammar. It concentrates on helping students to develop skills in composing college-level expository essays and research papers. Students will learn to write essays that are unified, coherent, and grammatically correct. 

English Composition II

ENC 1102 is an advanced composition course with an emphasis placed on critical thinking skills, conducting academic research, and research-based writing using MLA documentation. Students will practice proper and correct in-text citations, will compile a Works Cited, and will demonstrate synthesis and seamless integration of sources into their writing, with a strong emphasis on understanding and avoiding plagiarism. Students will be trained in the identification and searching of major databases found in SJR STATE electronic resources and will write several documented papers and one longer research paper.

Finding a Topic

Choose something you are interested in researching and writing.

Start with a broad category. If you like animals, then think of topics that would have to do with animals. You can then start to narrow down what you want to write about; animal rights, animals in captivity, which animals make for the best service animals, etc. You can then begin to research these ideas and begin to further narrow down what your topic will be.

Once you think of something you are interested in, do some preliminary research. 

This preliminary research can be a basic Google search to see if other people are talking about your topic. If you start searching for something and not even Google has information about it, the chances that scholars are talking about it too are slim. 

If you cannot find much information about your topic, you may want to pick a different topic.

If you start trying to find information on a search engine site such as Google, and you do not see much information on your topic, try search for similar ideas. If you still do not see much on the topic, then it might be a good idea to try something else.

If you do find some information about your topic, then you can begin your research journey for your assignment.

During your preliminary research, you find lots of different results about your topic and there are many people discussing it including major news sources such as the New York Times and/or the Wall Street Journal, then you might be on the right path. The next thing you would want to do is to begin looking through databases to see how much scholarly work is being done on the topic.

Helpful Databases for Finding a Topic

Research Tips

Start Broad

When you start your researching journey, it is always a good idea to keep your searches broad and then begin to narrow it down. A broad search is going to leave you with lots of results that you can filter down by subject or maybe even a related field. When searching, look for other keywords that are being used in the sources that you find helpful. This will help you naturally begin to narrow your topic and research.

Try Different Keyword Searches

The databases and the library catalog search by keywords. Unlike Google or other search engines, you cannot type in a question or statement to find results. Keywords are one or two words that sum up your idea or topic. Finding good keywords can be the most challenging part to academic research. Do not be afraid to try different keywords in different ways. For example: 

  • Topic - Is the keeping of animals in zoos ethical? 
  • Possible Keywords: animal rights, zoos, animal welfare, animal captivity, zoo ethics, animal conservation

Analyze Your Sources

Once you find a source that you think will be helpful, you want to analyze it to determine the validity of the information. Some things you will want to be on the lookout for are: Where you found it? Who is writing it? Who published it? When it was written? Why was it written? What is the source's purpose?

Stay Organized and Save Your Sources

Like in all things, staying organized will help you through your research journey. Some ways you can stay organize include creating digital or physical folders that contain the sources that you found. Saving the information you found is extremely important. It is very hard to replicate a search within a database and sometime it can be very challenging to find sources again if you don't remember much information about the source. Simply saving your source or printing it out can help you stay organized and be able to quickly retrieve information when it is time to start writing.

Use Your Library Resources

The library has a plethora of resources that can help you through your research journey. The library not only has books and periodicals, but databases, catalogs, videos and the best resource of all; librarians! Librarians can help you navigate the databases and catalogs as well as offering advice on your keyword searches and ways to narrow down your information. If you ever feel stuck or unsure of your next step while researching, ask your librarian for help and guidance! 

Videos on Research Help

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