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Assignment | Death of a Salesman Research Essay (Kane): Explore Your Topic

ENGL 1302 | Prof. Kane

Step 1: Explore Your Topic

Based on your assignment guidelines, as you start thinking about your topic and how to start digging into your research, consider the following:

  • Can I find enough information on my subject? 
  • Will I be able to add my own perspective to this topic? 
  • Will the approach I take be convincing and insightful to others? 
  • Have I addressed more than just the obvious two sides of the issue? 
  • Consider your purpose, tone, and audience (your teacher, your peers). 
  • Narrow your topic appropriately:
    • For example, the topic of censorship is too broad. The adverse effect of internet censorship on individual rights or the positive effects of limited internet censorship is narrower. 
  • Consider the complexity of the issue when looking at your sources and thinking about your topic. 

Step 2: Preliminary Research

This stage of your research is very informal: Google or maybe even (gasp) Wikipedia are sufficient to feel out ideas, because both are very user-friendly and don't require you to have a specific grasp of your search terms yet.

Pro-Tip!  Remember to jot down KEYWORDS!  They are extremely useful when searching the library databases!


Although the state of the American Dream actually is an explicit topic of research, that's not the only search term to try! What are aspects of the American Dream (or obstacles to it) that you could search for?  See examples below:

  • Success
  • Achievement
  • Consumerism
  • Materialism
  • Abandonment
  • Betrayal
  • Feminism
  • Depression

Step 3: Search the Databases

The LSC Libraries offer dozens of databases covering all of the major disciplines. You can search for a database by subject, or enter a specific database through our alphabetical list. Many providers offer accounts that allow you to save your searches for easier recall later. You will still need to access the database from our website in order to use your LSC credentials.

Full text not available? If we don't have the full text article available through our databases, do not despair! You can request articles through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Thanks to TexShare, a program funded by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, we are able to request materials from other libraries throughout the state. Often a PDF of the article you need can be emailed to you within days.

Step 4: Developing a Thesis

Things to consider when developing thesis statement:

  • Your thesis is where you put forward your argument in a concise, declarative way.
  • It is typically one sentence long and comes at the end of your introduction paragraph.
  • You should only develop your thesis after you've started doing your research.
  • You can have a thesis in mind as you start your research, of course, but be prepared to change it if you find it's unsupportable with the information available to you.
  • Thesis statements should be provable (persuasively argued), narrow (one particular issue), contestable (debatable), and specific (arguments/reason).

Primary and Secondary Sources - What's the Difference?

When conducting research, it is important to be able to distinguish between a primary source and a secondary source.

What are scholarly sources?

Scholarly articles are also called peer-reviewed or refereed articles. They are written and reviewed by experts in a field prior to publication. They often to present new, original research.


  • Very authoritative
  • Credible
  • New research may be presented


  • Not the timeliest discussion of events
  • Expensive & often not publicly available