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ENG W270: Argumentative Writing

Choosing a database for your topic

Selecting Databases

Below are suggested databases and subject guides that you could use to locate information about an issue that you plan to write about. Be sure to check out the other pages in this guide to learn how to search these databases; they typically do not work like Google. Also, be willing to try a few different databases. Part of research is about exploring!

Hover over the (i) next to each database name to find out more. If you want to focus on a specific discipline or field, check out that discipline's subject guide at the link below. Each guide should have a list of recommended databases for that area of study, beyond the few that I list here.


The databases below are good starting places for all topics and subject areas. Google Scholar is also a large interdisciplinary search engine. Use the search box on the left to search it.



These databases are most useful for background reading on a topic. Think of them as "academic Wikipedias." Some of them, like Opposing Viewpoints in Context (Gale) may have scholarly articles, but I'd encourage you to treat these as starting places for your research and not ending places. Be sure to get into the subject-specific article databases (below) as well. 


These databases typically have one or a few subjects in them. For example, SocINDEX focuses on sociology research. GenderWatch focuses on family studies, women's studies, and gender studies. If you're not sure where your topic may fall, start in the interdisciplinary databases listed above. If you find articles you like, often you can get an idea of the field that they come from by reviewing the journal title or abstract. If you're still not sure, I invite you to contact me or any of the subject librarians at UL. You can find my information on the first page of this guide.

Finding the Full-Text of an Article

Understanding LC Call Numbers

What exactly is a call number anyway?
A call number is the unique number given to each book in the library. Call numbers are like addresses, they tell you where a book will be located in the library.

Why should I know how to read one?
If you understand how to read a call number, it will be a lot easier for you to find books in the library.

What does a call number look like?
This library uses LC call numbers (LC stands for Library of Congress), which use a combination of letters and numbers. The same exact call number can be written 2 different ways:

A call number that you find in IUCAT (the online library catalog) will look like this:
CT105 .K55 1981

And that same call number will look like this on the spine of the book:
So, here's how you read a call number on the spine of a book:
CT        --Read it alphabetically (A, B, C, CT, D, E, F, G, H, HA, HQ, etc.)
105       --Read it numerically (1, 10, 100, 100.5, 105, 1005.10, etc.)
.K55     --Read alphabetically and then decimally (.A23, .A233, .A33, .B4555, .B50, etc.)
1981     --The final line is a date.
And here is how this book would be placed on the shelf:



So now that I know how to read a call number, how do I use it to find books in the library?

  1. When you find a book that looks interesting in IUCAT, make sure you write down the entire call number.
  2. Check the location code to find out in what library the book will be (IUCAT contains books from all IU libraries).
  3. Look at the first letter(s) of the call number. Use this to figure out what part of the library to go to. Once you are on the correct floor, look for labels at the end of each set of bookshelves. These will tell you what call numbers can be found on those shelves.
  4. Find the book on the shelf and take it to the Service & Information Desk (2nd Floor) to check it out.