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*SOCI 1160 Intro to Social Problems (Charleston): Argument Papers - Research Help

Assignment - Reqs for Sources & Citing

"Assignment" image - public domain from

First Argument Paper Prompt:

The American Dream is still a widely held sentiment. Its underlying belief is that regardless of the circumstances in which we were born, everyone has the opportunity to achieve success. Through hard work and sacrifice, we all are able to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and attain upward mobility. Content: Using course concepts, create an argument for why the American Dream is not an accurate depiction of American life. Within your paper, give an example of a social problem or existing inequality that demonstrates your argument against the American Dream. 

You should use at least two course concepts (i.e. concepts that have been defined on the board) to make your argument and at least one outside source for support. For your outside source you may use a statistic, relevant, peer-reviewed research from a scholar, or related work from an activist. Wikipedia does not count as an outside source.

Mandy - your Sociology Librarian

Please email Mandy at to ask questions or to set up one-on-one appointments.

NOTE: Appointments should be made a minimum of 24 hours in advance -- in other words, same-day appointments are typically not feasible with my busy schedule.

Finding "A Statistic"

"statistics symbol bar chart" image - public domain from wpclipart.comTO CITE A STATISTICAL TABLE: Scroll to the bottom of the page that the statistical table is on, and you'll see citations in APA and MLA style.

Finding "Peer-Reviewed Research from a Scholar"

Want Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Articles?

To find scholarly articles, try searching this library database:

  • Academic Search Complete - after doing a search, at the left of the screen checkbox Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals limit

Also checkout this link for more help on creating effective search strategies: 

Many of the above databases contain both scholarly AND non-scholarly or "popular" sources - this tutorial gives strategies for discerning whether an article is SCHOLARLY or POPULAR.

Finding "Work from an Activist"

Activists are often affiliated with activist organizations - to limit your Googling to organizational sites, try something like below:

REMEMBER: You should evaluate the credibility of what anyone is saying, whether they are a scholar or an activist - From where/whom are they getting their information? Are they citing their sources? Does their personal bias impact the credibility of what they are saying?

"Wikipedia does not count as a source"

Because anyone can add or change content, there is an inherent lack of reliability and stability to Wikipedia.  Even the founder of Wikipedia has stressed that Wikipedia may not be suitable for academic uses, saying, "It is pretty good, but you have to be careful with it. It's good enough knowledge, depending on what your purpose is."

How might I use Wikipedia for this research assignment, since I can't cite it specifically as a source?

As a starting point to: 

(1) get some background and familiarize yourself with a topic, and also

(2) find the sources they cited - all Wikipedia articles end with References and/or Further Readings sections that point you to additional sources. These often include more authoritative sources like books and journal articles that you can find in the library or online. This can be a great way to start identifying sources for your paper. 

*Help on how to find articles listed in Wikipedia references.*

"Sources must be Properly Cited"

Your instructor says use whatever citation style you're comfortable with - this page links to resources for proper citation and for avoiding plagiarizing: