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SOC 12A: Ideas in a Changing World (CNI Moles W20)

Where Do I Start?


At this point you've likely chosen a broad topic for your argumentative essay and submitted it to your professor. Most likely your topic is still fairly broad as you're just beginning to explore it and understand some of the nuances to in order to narrow it.  The more you're able to focus it, the easier it will be to find resources.

To begin brainstorming the facets of your social issue using a topic map approach like the one above, complete Exercise 1 (to the Left) using the suggested tools below. An encyclopedic source (which can include books) are great sources to begin mapping aspects of your issue.

Find an Issue

Having trouble getting started? Here are a couple of excellent brainstorming tools for finding a topic.

CQ Research

Background Information

Encyclopedias, Dictionaries & Other Reference Sources

Sometimes, at the beginning of a research project, you want to get an overview of the research done on your topic, or you want to find background information to be able to narrow down your topic. 

To find an overview of your topic, you may want to start by looking at the articles in various encyclopedias and reference sources in the field of sociology. Many of these sources are now available online. The following ones would be particularly useful learning about race, gender, and class issues.

After you connect to the online encyclopedia, enter your topic  in the Quick Search box and select "Search within this publication".

If none of the encyclopedias below look relevant to your topic -- or you want to search many encyclopedias at once-- use the Gale Virtual Reference Library. 

Social Trends and Indicators USA

Minorities: Race and Ethnicity in America

Encyclopedia of Race and Racism

International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family

Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered History in America

Encyclopedia of Aging

Encyclopedia of Sociology

Growing Up:  Issues Affecting American Youth

Growing Old in America

Abortion: an Eternal Social and Moral Issue

Death and Dying: End of Life Controversies

GLBTQ: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trangender and Queer Culture

Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, and Addictive Behavior

Sports in America: Recreation, Business, Education, and Controversy

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Illicit Drugs, 2009

Crime, Prisons, and Jails

Gun Control:  Restricting Rights or Protecting People?

Social Welfare:  Fighting Poverty and Homelessness

Weight in America:  Obesity, Eating Disorders, and Other Health Risks