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CMP101 - Composition 1 - Clarkson: Research & Writing

Finding Sources

Stop searching and start finding. Search most of our resources at once and find what you need.

SNAP search

Use the EDS limiters to narrow down your results by selecting source types, subjects, date ranges and more. These limiters will be located on the left side of your results.

You can also use the Advanced Search to refine your search results. 

eds advance search

The TX All Text option will give you more results by searching the full-text of the document for your search terms. Use caution with the other options in this list, they may not do what you think they should. For most searches, it's best not to select an option. Use the TX option when you don't get any or many results.

The NSCC Libraries subscribe to over 100 databases covering a variety of subjects, formats, and types. Our new Snap Search will search many of these at once, however, there are times when it makes more sense to go into a specific database for information. If you don't find what you need under the Search tab in this box, try one of the links below.

Access to many of the database links on this guide requires NSCC authentication - users must sign in with their NSCC My Northshore (formerly Pipeline) username & password

If you want to place any library materials on hold, request a book from another library, or check out any physical library materials out you will need to have your NSCC ID card.

Stop by the Student Life Office in Danvers (DB 132) or Lynn (LW 171) with a current class schedule and a picture ID to get an NSCC ID.

When researching topics for a paper or project, it's important to keep track of the sources you use. The easiest way to do this is to email a source to yourself in the database. This way whenever you come across a source you think you might want to use, you email it and have a record of the source and a way to get the citation when you need it. Most of our databases have an option to email when you're looking at an article, book, or video.

Expository Writing

Expository writing includes most forms of essays, each having its own approach. Use the Library's databases to find credible information on your topics. Different paper formats are listed in this box to help you understand the best approach.

Follow these research steps for best results:

1. Identify key concepts

Use dictionaries and encyclopedias to define your concepts and generate search terms

2. Gather background information to understand the problem

Use encyclopedias and books to explore the larger topics, history, and issues related to your concepts.

3. Find supporting data 

Search for other research on your topic in articles from our databases.

Cause and Effect essays focus on why things happen (causes), and what happened as a result (effects).  

Researching these types of topics involve several steps.

  • Begin by establishing the existence of the situation, and describe the history of the problem.
  • Explain the significance of the situation.
  • Focus on the main causes.
  • Convince your audience that your evidence is credible.

Compare and contrast essays are very common. This technique is used to show how things are similar or different. There must be a significant basis for comparison to make the paper interesting. Your paper should focus on the common elements whether they are the similarities or differences. Analyze your topics; how they compare or relate to each other. Evaluate these differences. Determine your emphasis by selecting points of discussion.

Remember to keep your audience in mind.

compare and contrast

An important thing to remember when you're writing a persuasive essay is that you're writing for an audience. You should keep your audience in mind and present your information in a logical order.  Make sure to offer definitions to help them understand. In this exercise, you are trying to persuade someone to agree with your argument. Back up your argument with credible facts; this is the most important part of this type of research. To make a good argument you must be able to define your terms, show research or statistics that support your claims, counteract the other side of the argument, and always cite your sources.

Define your terms: this is important for you and your audience to understand exactly what you're talking about. 

Show research or statistics that back up your argument: this is the main focus of your research. Your argument is only as credible as the sources you provide. 

Counteract the other side of the argument: you should be able to convince people why your argument makes more sense than the other side. Research both sides of the argument to make yours more effective.

Always cite your sources: this is essential! Keep track of your sources as you find them. 

The purpose of a position paper is to generate support on an issue. It describes a position on an issue and the rationale for that position. The position paper is based on facts that provide a solid foundation for your argument.*

*Tucker, Kerry, & Derelian, Doris, Rouner, Donna. (1997). Building the case: Position papers, backgrounders, fact sheets, and biographical sketches. In Public relations writing: An issue-driven behavioral approach (pp.79- 85). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

A position paper gives students an opportunity to take a stand on an issue and follows the same guidelines as a persuasive/ argument essay. Taking a position is more than just stating your opinion, you need to back up your position with reliable evidence. This is where research comes in, you will need to find credible sources to back up your claims. Use the Library's databases to find credible information to strengthen your position.

Here are a few tips for researching and writing a successful position paper.

  • Select a narrow topic - this will make research and writing much easier.
  • Take a measured stance - address objections, admit shortcomings, and qualify your stance.
  • Refine your position as needed - if the evidence doesn't back up your position, you may need to change your position.
  • Avoid broad generalizations and oversimplifications.

Begin by outlining what you already know or believe. Next, think about what you want your reader to learn from your paper. Assert a clear position and respond to opposing arguments fairly and credibly. Research your topic thoroughly for best results

Problem / Solution papers require you to think critically about issues in our society. For this assignmnet you will learn about a problem we face and possible actions we should take. To research topics like these you need to identify your information need, generate search terms, and devise appropriate search strategies. Keep in mind thatyou are writing a persuasive paper for an audience. Check the information under the "Persuasive Writing" tab for more information on this technique.

Proposing A Solution


1. Identify a problem

  • Define the problem
  • Identify causes and influential factors
  • Understand the historical development of the problem
  • Understand the significance

2. Identify solutions

  • Present a proposed solution
  • Identify supporting data
  • Identify alternative solutions

Concepts are ideas, something formed in the mind, a thought or notion, or an abstract idea.

Every field has its own concepts. Some examples are:

  • Virtual reality
  • Narcissism
  • Corporate culture
  • Anxiety
  • Quantum theory
  • Friendship
  • Information literacy

When researching concepts you should always start with a definition from a reputable source.  Encyclopedias are excellent sources for credible information on a variety of concepts.