First-Year Composition

This guide will help students find primary and secondary sources for English 101, 102, 118, 198, 298 assignments.

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Refence Materials

The following resources are the online equivalent to reference books like encyclopedias. They can be helpful as a starting place for general information on a variety of topics.

For more information on the process of research and scholarly writing, visit the Undergraduate Research and Writing Help guide or visit our Writing Center for more guidance.


Welcome to the First-Year Composition Research Guide! This guide is meant to help you learn how to use the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Libraries' resources. If this guide does not have the information you are looking for, do not hesitate to Ask Us Now for help at any time during our hours.

As you begin to think about your assignment, consider how you find and evaluate your supporting materials. This research guide walks you through the basics of the research process, and how to find library resources to support your assignment. Give yourself time to search on your own, ask a librarian for guidance, and go back to your instructor if you need help.

Using Sources

When determining sources that will be good for your research topic, remember to ask these questions:

1. What type of source does my instructor want me to use (i.e. primary vs. secondary, popular vs. scholarly, etc.)?

2. What type of source is appropriate for my argument? (For example, you can support a statement such as "the rate of obesity in the United States has grown in recent years" by citing a scholarly article or government statistics source on the topic, perhaps showing rate of change over time.)

3. Where do I find the type of source I need? (See the Primary Sources or Secondary Sources tabs)

4. How do I search using the UT library databases? (See the General Search Tips and Strategies guide)

5. How do I use my sources appropriately? (See our tutorial on Citing Sources)