Subject Guides


Click on the blue headings below to explore the resources librarians recommend for your English 3, 4, and 5 assignments.

Not sure where to start?

If you've made it to this subject guide, you're already partway there! Here's some advice about what sections of this guide might be most usefult to you.

"I don't know anything about my topic."

Get some background by clicking on Start Your Research with Encyclopedias and Reports below. If you're not sure which database to use, try Opposing Viewpoints for a variety of information on your topic.

So You Just Got Assigned a Research Paper

"I've done some basic background research, but now my professor says I need scholarly articles."

Click on the section below titled Databases of Scholarly and Popular Articles. Any of those links (like Academic Search Complete) should provide you with a number of articles on your topic; just make sure that once you've entered your search, you click the "scholarly articles" filter on the left, so you don't use a newspaper or magazine article by mistake.

Scholarly article filter in database


"I'm still stuck! I'm not sure if I need to change my topic or if I'm just using the wrong database."

Ask a librarian! (Seriously, do it. We'll save you a lot of time!)

Ask us

Find more helpful videos and tutorials here.


Start Your Research with Encyclopedias and Reports

Reference sources are things like encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks. They're the sort of book where you probably just look up one or two entries on your topic, rather than reading the whole thing cover-to-cover. And they're perfect for getting a general overview of your topic, finding out the main points academics have studied, picking out keywords to use in your search, and finding key books and articles in the field. These databases are kind of like Wikipedia, but you know that they've been written and edited by experts in their field. Many of our reference sources are searchable online in the following databases:

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Credo Literati

Encyclopedias and Handbooks
Credo Reference LogoLiterati Academic Logo
Search by keyword:

Gale Virtual Reference Library has encyclopedias on all kinds of topics: addiction, contemporary poets, countries and their cultures, espionage, sports, sustainability, world cultures, and hundreds more. It's easy to search them all from one search bar to find the articles on your topic, and then it's a cinch to read, save, and cite. Need an encyclopedia article? Start here.

Sage Knowledge also lets you search their encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks all in one place. One search bar finds entries in works like Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture, Encyclopedia of Gender in Media, Sage Handbook of Tourism Studies, and many more, from a variety of disciplines.

Research Reports on Current Topics

Opposing Viewpoints is a research paper lifesaver. Click "Browse Issues" to find your topic (Iraq wars? Media bias? Millennial generation?), and Opposing Viewpoints will give you articles arguing multiple sides of your subject, plus news, scholarly journal articles, primary sources, encyclopedia articles, websites, maps, statistics, and radio stories on your topic. A true gold mine. 

Writing about abortion, animal rights, bullying, climate change, or another current issue? CQ Researcher has journalist-written and fact-checked reports on hot topics. Each one includes helpful features like background, chronology, pro/con arguments, maps/graphs, and a bibliography of other sources you should read. Super helpful for choosing or narrowing down a topic, or supplying facts supporting and contradicting your argument.

Find Books and eBooks

For an in-depth look at your topic, search Albert, the library's catalog of books and e-books:

Albert Search

Search Albert to find books, movies, etc..


Advanced Search

English 3 & 4 textbook:

Writing & Composition

Writing & Composition (Trimble and Little, Brown)

English 5 textbook:

Writing Research Papers Across the Curriculum

Writing Research Papers Across the Curriculum (Hubbuch)



 How to read the catalog results



Find Articles in the Library Databases

Not sure where to start? Try Multisearch, which searches the library catalog and many of our databases of scholarly and popular articles.


Discover articles and books from many of our databases.


Scholarly & Popular Articles

(Use the filters to narrow down your results to scholarly journals.)

This scholarly collection offers full-text coverage of information in many areas of academic...

Academic OneFile indexes nearly 13,000 academic journals, magazines, newspapers, and reference...

Multi-disciplinary database providing the complete content from six of Wilson's full-text...

All Proquest databases in one search, including Sociological Abstracts, ABI/Inform, and the New York Times (historical)


Looking for a database with articles about Psychology, History, Kinesiology, Literature, etc? Go to the Subject Guides list and click the one for your topic, then look for the list of databases. 


World newspapers

World newspapers, including California newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle, Contra Costa Times, and San Jose Mercury News

Full text database of the newspapers, magazines and journals from alternative and independent...

Need stats to back up your argument?

Statistics Subject Guide

Is My Source Good Enough?

Peer Review video

Choosing the Best Web Source tutorial

Evaluating Resources video

When deciding whether a source is credible enough to use in a college-level research paper, ask yourself:

Who: Who wrote this and what are their credentials or experience?

What: What is their argument and evidence to support it?

When: When was it written or published? Is that current enough?

Where: Where was it published? In a scholarly journal or popular magazine or newspaper? A blog? A book published by a scholarly press? Look at the URL to see what kind of website it is.

Why: What is the author’s motivation in writing this--to inform, to persuade, to sell? 

For more help, see pp. 338-349 in your English 4 Writing & Composition  textbook, or see pp. 49-52 and 78-83 in your English 5 textbook, Writing Research Papers Across the Curriculum.

Cite Your Sources

SMC Library's MLA Style Guide

Citation Machine

Also see the MLA appendix in your Writing and Composition spiral textbook for English 3 and 4, or use the MLA section in Hubbuch's Writing Research Papers Across the Curriculum for English 5. (Both are available on textbook reserve in the Library.)

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