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ENC 1101 (LaCerra): Cause and Effect Essay: Home


Use this step-by-step guide to start your research for the cause and effect essay assigned by Professor LaCerra.  Contact a librarian for help.

Step #1: Focus Your Topic

First, decide what specific issue you would like to research within one of the three categories (family, environment or obedience).


  • Family - effects of the TV show Modern Family
  • Environment - environmental causes of lung cancer
  • Obedience - effects of spanking on children's obedience

Recommended Sources for Topic Ideas:

Step #2: Choose Keywords

Once you have focused your topic, start a list of relevant keywords. These are the words you would use in your searches.


Write out your focused topic on a piece of paper.

Circle the keywords in your topic.

  • List some words that mean about the same as these keywords (synonyms).

Related to your topic, list some words that describe

  • WHO is affected, WHO is causing it, or WHO is related to the issue (people, groups)
  • WHAT is affected, WHAT is causing it, or WHAT other concepts/ things are related to the issue
  • WHERE (places)
  • WHEN (events, time periods)

Step #3: Pick a Search Tool

Library Catalog

Use the library catalog to find all types of items, but especially books and e-books.

Library Databases

Use different library databases to find specific types of articles, as well as images and videos.

West Campus Librarians

Step #4: Search Using Keywords

Start with the keywords from your topic, or their synonyms. Add keywords from your list to make the search more specific.


  • Lung cancer AND environment
  • Lung cancer AND motor exhaust


  • In the Library Catalog, keep your searches more basic, general and broad. You may even need to revise.
    Example: cancer AND environment
  • In the databases, be more specific.



Step #5: Save and Cite Sources

E-mail articles that you find in the databases, to your preferred e-mail address. You can send MLA citations along with your articles.

Use the library's MLA Guides to help you cite books, e-books and articles: