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JOUR 341: Journalism and the American Landscape

A guide to help you locate resources for your papers on the impact of journalism on history.

Preliminary Research and Topic Development

Use some basic broad searches for library and online sources to explore a topic. Encyclopedias and biographical dictionaries can offer basic background information and resources for further reading.

As you do this beginning research, you will want to keep in mind the following to help you narrow your topic:

  • Know your audience and the assignment's parameters. Your instructor should specify who you are writing this for and what is required as far as types of resources, length, and style.
  • Notice key issues and terms (indexes at the back of books are good for this) on your topic. This will help you do more specific searches.
  • Take this information and begin to generate ideas. Brainstorm ideas using white boards at Beeghly or doing prewriting exercises to help flesh out key questions and issues of your topic.

Thesis Statements

Your thesis statement is the central argument of your paper contained in one to two sentences, and should appear somewhere within the first few paragraphs of the piece. Developing a thesis statement after you decide on your topic can help focus your research and your writing. Some tips: 

  • Keep your thesis clear.
  • Keep your thesis specific.
  • Revise your thesis statement for clarity and specificity as your research helps you develop your point of view.

For further reading: 


Now that you have a solid topic and thesis, you can start more in-depth research. Search the library catalog and databases for reliable resources to support your paper. 

What are reliable resources? Ones that pass the CRAAP test

  • Currency
  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Accuracy
  • Purpose

As you read books and articles, hear interviews, and watch documentaries, always be evaluating.

Need help finding good resources? Contact your librarian for a one-on-one appointment.

For further reading:

Creating Bibliographies

As you conduct your research, keeping track of resources is essential so you can appropriately cite quotes and other information you use in your paper. This will establish the credibility of you and your ideas, and help you steer clear of plagiarizing.

While you can use notebooks or note cards or a Google doc to list books and quotes, there is also free software called Zotero that allows you compile print and online resources into one space. You can notes to the citations, format in whatever style you need, and export the list to add to attach to your paper. 

For further reading:

Outline and Organization

Organizing your ideas and research is a great help to direct your writing.

Alphanumeric outlines (I. > A. > 1. > a.) helps you create a sturdy structure. Note cards with quotes and sources arrange cited content within the paper.  You can draw graphs and flowcharts on white boards to cluster ideas and organize events.

For further reading:

Writing and Structure

From the outline, you can begin writing. 

  • Make sure each paragraph has a topic.
  • Make sure paragraphs flow logically. 
  • Make sure your language is clear and concise.
  • Make sure you are continually supporting your thesis.

Once you finish a draft, proofread for errors, clarity, and cohesion. You can utilize tools within document writing applications to check errors, and then use processes like reverse outlining to assess for flow and clarity. Show drafts to friends and instructors to get another set of eyes on the work and ask for their suggestions. 

For further reading: 

Writing Help

Need more help? Use the resources below. 

For further reading: