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ENC 1101 - Professor Martinson: Researching Social Problems

Social Problems

Brainstorm the causes and effects of a local social problem in Polk County/Florida

  • hunger
  • drugs/alcohol
  • homelessness
  • lack of education
  • housing market
  • transportation
  • food desert/access to healthy food
  • cycle of poverty
  • inequality
  • lack of infrastructure
  • the government
  • mental health
  • PTSD
  • etc.

Now, think of synonymous terms for your topic and combine them with OR. Wikipedia may be helpful for finding terms. Use quotation marks to keep phrases together. Here are some examples: 

homelessness OR unhoused OR "housing first" 

poverty OR poor OR "low income" OR  "low socioeconomic status" OR "low SES" 

"public transportation" OR Citrus Connection


And now consider the geography, both local Polk County and throughout Florida. For example: 

"Polk County" OR Lakeland OR "Winter Haven"

Florida OR Orlando OR Jacksonville OR Miami 


Lastly, organize the two ideas in parenthesis and combine with AND. For example, if I was doing a local newspaper search on homelessness, I might focus geographically on local areas: 

(homelessness OR unhoused OR "housing first") AND ("Polk County" OR Lakeland OR "Winter Haven")

If the search is in a database for journal articles, like Academic Search Complete, it might be helpful to search for anything pertaining to Florida, so I might search:

(homelessness OR unhoused OR "housing first") AND (Florida OR Orlando OR Jacksonville OR Miami)

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Newspaper sources: (search for your issue and how it relates to poverty). You can also do a separate search for your organization and the work they do regarding poverty. 

Journals/Magazines: (these are good for getting an overview of your topic)

MLA Help

Steps to Writing Research Papers

Step 1: Understand the assignment

Step 2: Select your topic (or use the one assigned to you)

Step 3: Initial planning, investigation, and outlining

Step 4: Accumulate Research

Step 5: Make a final outline to guide writing

Step 6: Write the paper

Step 7: Revise and Proofread

Questions? Use Ask a Librarian


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