First-Year Composition

This guide will help students find primary and secondary sources for English 101, 102, 112, 198, 298 assignments.


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, can you support a statement such as "college graduation rates have increased over the past several decades" by citing a scholarly article or government statistics source on the topic?)

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 Libraries databases? (See the General Search Tips and Strategies guide)

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


General Search Tips and Strategies  

This guide provides tips and strategies for the research process. It includes keyboard shortcuts, search tips, and search strategies.


This video guides users through downloading and using the PowerNotes extension, which is an academic research tool.

Reference 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 our Writing Center for more guidance.