The 411 on Research Papers
Everyone dreads having to write a paper, but hopefully some of the resources described on this page will make the job easier. We've listed two types of resources below: 1) periodical and current events databases and 2) guides to writing and formatting your paper. The focus of this guide is on general undergraduate term papers. For more indepth research or graduate level research, see the resources listed under specific academic subjects. Other useful guides include:
What are they good for? These databases help you locate relevant articles in scholarly journals, magazines and newspapers. In many cases, the full text of the article is available right in the database. When that is not the case, always click on the gold InfoLink button to see if we subscribe to the periodical in print or online. Chances are good that we do.
We subscribe to many databases or online indexes. Those we've listed below tend to focus on current events, controversial topics and commentary (opinion pieces) that may be hard to locate elsewhere.
Academic Search Elite indexes articles from a vast array of periodicals, including scholarly journals, popular magazines and newspapers. Many articles are available in full text; if not, be sure to check InfoLink. If you need just scholarly articles, there is an easy way to limit to those.
Access World News provides the full text of newspaper articles from the U.S. and around the world. U.S. coverage includes Chicago Tribune and some Iowa newspapers. International newspaper articles may be in English or the local language. There is a geographic locator for searching by a U.S. state, a continent, or a specific country.
CQ Researcher Plus Archive is part of the CQ Electronic Library. It contains encyclopedia-like articles on controversial issues of the day. These provide a good overview of the topic, pro/con statements from experts, and lists of additional readings. An excellent place to start your research.
LexisNexis Academic provides the full text of U.S. and international newspaper articles, as well as other news sources, including radio and television news transcripts.
OpinionArchives provides the full text of opinion pieces and commentary from a dozen U.S. publications, across the political spectrum. If you need pro/con statements from either side of an issue, this is the place to look.
ProCon.org is an independent site on the open web that summarizes viewpoints on a select number of controversial issues.
What is a bibliographic style? When professors assign a term paper, they usually expect you to provide a list of the sources you consulted in writing the paper. They may also expect you to cite your sources at the point in your paper where you refer to them, either as a footnote or an in-text citation. They will expect you to provide a bibliography or works cited list at the end of the paper.
In order to recognize what it is you've cited, whether it is a book, a magazine article, or a newspaper article, they expect your citations to be in a standard format. Sometimes the professor will tell you which style to use. Modern Language Association (MLA) and American Psychological Association (APA) are two popular styles used on campus, but there are others. Other times you are free to pick the bibliographic style, as long as you use it consistently.
If you are not already familiar with a particular bibliographic style, it can be frustrating to learn. Hopefully the guides and other tools below will help ease that frustration. Besides the items listed below, see also the Books tab at the top of this page, where we've listed some style guides, both print and e-books, available in the UI Libraries.
Citation Formats. A guide from UI Libraries with examples of the most common citation forms for APA, Chicago and MLA styles.
EasyBib. An automated citation generator on the web. Free if using MLA style.
EndNote Basic. A web-based citation management and bibliography tool. Similar to RefWorks (see below). UI students can register for a free account.
Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL). A great site with tutorials, exercises and examples of APA and MLA style.
RefWorks. A web-based citation management and bibliography tool. It can help you to efficiently store, organize, and share citations and easily format them for papers and bibliographies. UI students can register for a free account.
University of Iowa Writing Center. Schedule an appointment with a tutor for help with your writing project.