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ENGL B1A: Incarceration Nations: Getting Started

This guide focuses on the book Incarceration Nations and topics related to it such as: the school-to-prison pipeline, racism in law enforcement, the War on Drugs, and the prison industrial complex. It was created for Professor Alexander's ENGL B1A course.


Before you start your research, you need to create a narrow research topic or question that fits the scope of your assignment.  You also need search terms that describe your topic so that you can use them to find sources for your topic. This page will help you do these things.

Narrowing Your Topics

Further Topic Narrowing Help

Questions You Should Be Asking

What problems or concerns are involved in your topic?
•What solutions currently exist or have been proposed?
•What needs to be changed to resolve the problem?
•What are your main supporting points?
•What do you hope to discover in your research process?
•Who is your audience, and how can your investigation be of use to them?

Presearch video

Using Academic Sources

How do I know whether a source is academic or reputable?





■Author bio on dust jacket—are they an expert on the topic?—career, degrees, other research/publications?
■Publishing company—University Press? 
■Librarians selected it by reading reviews & building an academic library.
■Author bio at beginning or end of article—are they an expert on the topic?—affiliated with a university? 
■Published in an academic journal.  Usually long, detailed, & hard to read.
■Usually has an abstract, and will always have works cited/references—where they got their information.

Narrowing Your Topic

Further Topic Narrowing Help