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ENGL 015: Rhetoric and Composition (Fetterman)

Tools to help with your English 15 assignments.

Session 1


Scholarship is a conversation between scholars and scientists. As an inexperienced researcher, you may find it difficult to makes meaningful contributions to this conversation. Finding reliable background information can help you:

  • Learn what questions have already been asked. Getting up to speed on the conversation can be daunting, so finding productive ways to enter it is an important step.
  • Discover the language experts use to talk about the subject.   Research within specific disciplines is often discussed using a specialized/technical language. You need to be aware of that language to efficiently and effectively search library resources.
  • Uncover key concepts, people, and/or events. If the investigation of one idea proves unproductive, these elements may provide you with additional avenues of inquiry.

Entries in the encyclopedias, like those listed below, can provide excellent overviews for most concepts. You will usually find references or suggested books and articles for further reading at the end of the articles.

If you’re stuck, it never hurts to check Wikipedia for inspiration. You may discover a ton of useful information. But it should never be used as a final source. Any information you find should be corroborated in other sources.

Take a look at the Need ideas? section of the Penn State York Library Instructional Support Guide for additional strategies.

Session 2


Many instructors require students to use scholarly (academic), peer-reviewed journal articles for college research papers. However, students often don’t know where to find these articles and aren’t even sure what a scholarly article looks like.

This chart outlines the differences between scholarly journals, trade publications, and popular magazines.

Below are a few of the most commonly used databases, but make sure to check the Subject Guide for your major (or intended major) to know the recommended databases for your field.

Evaluating Information

Please log-in to view the following video on evaluating sources.