ENG101: "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" (Prof. Hayles)

This guide was created to aid Professor Donna Hayles's ENG101 with the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" writing assignment about issues of police reform.

Suggested Search Terms

Try these search terms in library databases: 

"police reform"
"policing reform"
"law enforcement" AND reform
("law enforcement" OR police) AND reform
"organizational change" AND (police OR policing)
"criminal justice system" AND reform
"police corruption"
"police brutality"
police AND reform
police AND "civil rights"
Discrimination AND "law enforcement"
Reform AND "law enforcement"
Police AND "social work*"
"Police brutality" AND ethnicity
Police AND "community relations"
Police AND Complaints AND "United States"
Police AND "Minority and ethnic groups"
Police AND ("African Americans" OR Blacks)
"Racial profiling"
"George Floyd"
"Nonviolent protest*" AND police

1) For Background on Your Subject

These databases offer overviews and summaries of the issues. Start with a broad topic like police or police reform. In these relatively small individual databases, use simpler searches. 

  • CQ Researcher:  search for police.
  • Opposing Viewpoints:  click Browse Issues then go to the Police Reform category.
  • Points of View: See Law and Politics and Race and Culture categories. 
  • Statista: find useful statistics on police reform, racial profiling, more.

ProQuest Central will search millions of articles from thousands of magazines, newspapers (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.) and peer-reviewed journals. 

2) Fill in the Research Gaps with a Meta-search

   Start Your Research Here: 

  • The search box above finds the library's 30,000 books and 200,000 e-books, plus a broad, shallow meta-search across 100 library article and video databases. 
    • Sign in with your college username/password to get best results, request print books and save searches. 
    • Then, search specific library databases below to fill in any gaps. 
    • Use Advanced Search or capitalize AND to overlap topics. See box with sample topics.

Research Instruction: Library Homepage and Eng101/102

Reference Librarian Sam Berry-Sullivan created these tutorials:

Scholarly Sources

How do you know a "scholarly article" (also called peer-reviewed or academic articles) when you come across one?

Articles in different fields may differ slightly (a scholarly article comparing two works of literature will lack data, graphs, and discussions of methodology, while a paper on the study of a new medication SHOULD have all of those things), but ALL scholarly articles will have items 1-5, and 7-8 on this list, as well as a references page (or works cited, or bibliography; the name varies depending on the field)


Video Resources

These  video databases offer documentaries, TED Talks and more, with citations.

Books In Our Library

The titles listed here (and many more) can be accessed by copy/pasting titles into the "Start Your Research Here" box above.

  • E-books can be read online by clicking the link below "full text availability", and
  • Print books can be held for you at the library by clicking into a book's catalog record and selecting "Request for pickup at Library Circulation Desk".