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ENG 111: Basic Research Resources

This Research Guide outlines information about topics relevant to beginning research.

Use the resources in this guide to begin basic research and find resources, such as articles, books, and videos, on topics related to your subject.  Make sure that you pay attention to the search tips and examples provided on each page. They will help make your research more successful. If you are having trouble finding sources for your assignment, ask a librarian for help.

Background Information

Why should you search for background information?


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Basic facts:

The articles you read and cite in your paper will assume you already know the basic facts about your topic. Basic facts include the people, dates, places, and laws related to the topic. You need to know these facts before you read academic articles to ensure you know what the writers are talking about.

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Academic writing may use words and terms for a topic that are different from those we use every day. By researching the background of a topic, you'll learn which terms academic writers use to discuss your topic.


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Narrowing your topic:

Most students start off with a topic that's too big to cover in a five-page paper. By doing thorough background research, you can identify sub-topics that might be easier to work with.


Library Resources with Background Information

You will typically use reference sources to gather background information about a topic. The following databases are great starting points, but keep in mind that the Library has many more sources for finding background information. Ask a librarian for advice if you are not finding what you need.

Off-Campus Access

Paw: Indicates that a password is needed to access the resource from off campus.The username and password to access databases from off campus is the same as what you use to access the PCC portal (myPittCC) and Moodle. DO NOT include the last part of your email address ( in the username. Generic logins are available to community residents with PCC library cards, and others who are enrolled in or are affiliated with PCC programs and continuing education courses. Have questions? Ask us!