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PSC 102 State & Local Government: Federalism Project

Starting Your Research


   Start Your Research Here: 
 

Federalism Project, Part 1: Topic Proposal

For this assignment, you will need to pick a federal-state controversy to research & write about.

  • Some suggested topics: same sex marriage, marijuana, abortion, education, and voting


  • Finding an issue on your topic: If you have a general topic in mind, such as one of the suggested topics above, you can go to the Opposing Viewpoints database and type in the topic with the phrase federal law or state law to explore the topic.
    • For example, we typed voting state law into the search box. 
      • Tip: Check out the Viewpoint articles to get an idea of some of the arguments being made about your topic.
        • We spotted an interesting article on felons and voting in states.
        • Next, we clicked on the article to read it. On the right Explore panel, we found other sources on this topic to explore.
        • To find more sources on this topic, we then searched this specific topic, felons voting state law, in the Start Your Research Here box above.

  • Use the Start Your Research Here box at the top of this guide page to find more and different types of sources. This search box will allow you to search many databases at once. Just type your search terms in the box and click the Search button.
    • Tip: Use the filters on the left side of the results page to get more relevant results. Publication Date, Availability and Material Type can be helpful filters to use.
    • Tip: Find other ways of saying or synonyms for your key search terms and try searching using these as well.

  • Start reading the sources you find. Reading some articles will get you started on exploring your topic and familiarize you with the different points of view on the issue.
    • Tip: Be open to changing and developing your topic as you read.
    • Tip: Start to develop your own position on the issue as you look ahead to the Position Paper for part 3 of this project.

  • Be sure to Keep Track of Your Sources as you look forward to writing your Annotated Bibliography for Part 2 of this project. Most databases allow you to email the article or chapter with a formatted citation. Be sure to format your citations in Chicago Style.
    • Tip: Create a word document and copy and paste your saved citations in this new document; this will be a first draft of your annotated bibliography.

Check out the short video below for more on the process of picking a topic and the research process.

 

(From NC State University Libraries. Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA US license.)

Federalism Project, Part 2: Annotated Bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography?

  • Let's break it down into two terms to help us understand this writing assignment.
    • A bibliography is a list of citations or references for sources such as books or articles. We often see a list of citations, which include the author, title, date, etc., at the end of a scholarly article or book chapter. However, an annotated bibliography is a separate stand-alone document.
    • An annotation is a note, so a bibliography that is annotated includes a brief "note" for each citation.
      • Your "note" will be in the form of a brief summary and/or evaluation of the source.

  • Each entry in your annotated bibliography will include two parts: a source citation and a brief summary and/or evaluation of that source.
    • Also, each citation is formatted in a particular style such as Chicago, MLA or APA. You will be using Chicago style for this assignment.

Your annotated bibliography will include a minimum of ten sources or ten entries. These are the sources you will use as you write your Position Paper, part 3. Use the link below to see samples of annotated bibliography entries.

Sample annotated bibliography entries

 

The successful annotated bibliography will include peer reviewed journal articles, books, and valid web sources.

  • Use the Start Your Research Here box at the top of this guide page to find more and different types of sources. This search box will allow you to search many databases at once. Just type your topic in the box and click the Search button.

 

  • Tip: Use the filters on the left side of the results page to get more relevant results. Publication Date, Availability and Material Type can be helpful filters to use.
  • Tip: Use the Peer Review filter under Availability to limit to peer review articles.
  • Tip: Keep track of your sources for your annotated bibliography. Most databases allow you to email the article or chapter with a formatted citation.
  • Tip: Create a word document and copy and paste your citations in this new document; this will be a first draft of your annotated bibliography.

The successful annotated bibliography will include peer review journal articles, books, and valid web sources.

  • Use the Start Your Research Here box at the top of this guide page to find more and different types of sources. This search box will allow you to search many databases at once.

 

  • Tip: Use the filters on the left side of the results page to get more relevant results. Publication Date, Availability and Material Type can be helpful filters to use.
  • Tip: Expand the Material Type filter by clicking on the ^ symbol. If you click on a specific source type here, you will only see these types of sources in your results. Valid web sources are included as a source type.
  • Tip: Use the Peer Review filter under Availability to limit to peer review articles. 

For this project, you need to evaluate both the content and the legitimacy of your source.

  • How do I evaluate the content and the legitimacy of each source? You will want to be sure that your sources are trustworthy since you are relying on your sources to support your argument. Some questions to ask:
    • Who is the author? What are the author's credentials? Does the author have subject matter expertise?
    • Who is the publisher? Is it a university press? Who is the the publisher's intended audience?
    • Date of publication? Do you need current information for your project?
    • Is it an opinion piece or fact based?
    • Is it a primary or secondary source?
    • What are the biases exhibited in the source?
  • Is it a Web resource?
    • All sources must be evaluated; however, the quality of the information found on the Internet varies greatly. Sources found in a library or in a trustworthy publication have been vetted to some degree, but this is not the case on the Web, so these sources need to be evaluated with great care.
  • Consider Wikipedia
    • Wikipedia entries are not primary sources.
    • There is no identifiable author of a Wikipedia entry as there are many contributors to each entry, so you cannot evaluate the author's credentials.
    • Wikipedia is good for pointing a researcher to other sources that may be useful.
    • It is not an academic source.

Check out the short video below for more on evaluating sources.

(From NC State University Libraries. Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA US license.)

Use Chicago-style citations.

  • Be sure to Keep Track of Your Sources as you look forward to writing your Annotated Bibliography for Part 2 of this project. Most databases allow you to format your citations in various styles. You will use Chicago style for this assignment.

 

  • Tip: Create a word document and copy and paste your saved citations in this new document; this will be a first draft of your annotated bibliography.

 

Annotated Bibliography Sample Entries

  • Use the link below to find examples of entries in an annotated bibliography.