ESL 124: Using the Library's Resources

Selecting a Topic 

Browse these resources for topic ideas:

  • Opposing Viewpoints is a good database for pro/con arguments on controversial political and social issues.
  • CQ Researcher is a great source for current political and social issues. The database has full-text reports on specific topics such as special education, eating disorders, and gay marriage, etc. 
  • New York Times, Room for Debate Scroll down to see major discussion topics on the right. 

  • Nonprofit site that provides pro/con arguments on 47 controversial issues. 


Finding Background Information

These can be good sources for finding background information on a topic as well as basic facts:

  • Gale Virtual Reference Library A database of over 300 online encyclopedias.
  • SAGE Knowledge Contains nearly 300 encyclopedias, almanacs, and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research. 
  • Europa World Online  Includes economic, political and geographic background information and statistical data for over 250 countries. 


Finding Articles

The first three databases below cover a broad range of academic journals and popular magazines, and are good places to start your research:

  • Academic Search Complete
  • LexisNexis Academic has full-text articles from other 5,000 news sources, including national newspapers like the New York Times, plus international news sources, transcripts of news programs, news magazines, etc.
  • Access World News is a full-text newspaper database with over 7,000 news sources, including California newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle
  • Google News offers free current articles from selected local, national, and international newspapers. Search Google News by topic in English, or from the main search page, click on "U.S. Editions" box to select other editions (e.g., newspapers in foreign languages). 


Finding Books

Use Ignacio, our library’s catalog of books, journals, and videos available here at USF.

  • Search by KEYWORD to combine terms and use terms that describe the main ideas of your topic.
  • Browse by SUBJECT to find a listing of books to focus your search. 
  • Search Link+ to find and borrow books from over 40 libraries.