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ENGL 388: Public Speaking (Dr. Smith-Tyus)

Facts and Context - Reference Sources

Dictionaries and encyclopedias give you background information about a topic. You might want to look up the history of college sports and the NCAA if you are giving a speech about whether college athletes should be paid, for example. Note that you cannot use dictionaries and encyclopedias as one of your sources in your speeches, but these sources can be useful when you want a quick overview of a topic, or when you're not sure exactly what part of a large topic you want to focus on.

Newspapers and Magazines

Newspapers and magazines can be used to demonstrate how a problem is being addressed at the local level. Access World News lets you find a particular city's newspaper to see how locals are reacting to national issues. You can also use the interviews in newspapers and magazines to add a personal touch to your speech by telling your audience how individuals are being affected by the problem you're addressing. If you were doing a speech on masks in school during covid-19, you could look in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal for local schools' policies and find quotes from local teachers, students, and parents about how they feel about the issue.


Statistics help you define the size and scope of your topic. If you want to talk about income inequality, it's important to have statistics that show how many people are affected by the problem, how big the disparity is, and if there are specific groups of people who are more affected than others. These are only a few sources for data that you can find on the internet; use your critical thinking to evaluate any web sources that you find to determine whether they are reputable.

Wofford OneSearch

Wofford OneSearch is a single search platform that contains books, ebooks, journal articles, magazines, newspapers, audio, video, and reference materials. It is a great place to explore your topic and find scholarly resources, but it can sometimes be overwhelming due to the amount of information a normal search will pull up. Think of it like shopping on Amazon: you should tell OneSearch exactly what you're looking for using keywords and choosing the right limiters in the left column of your search results.

Library homepage with OneSearch search box in the center of the page.



For example, a search for genetic engineering retrieves nearly 1.7 million results. You can narrow your search by adding additional keywords or using the limiters in the left column.

In OneSearch, the first box has the keywords "genetic engineering." Below, 1.7 million results are listed.



Choosing only scholarly and peer reviewed articles and limiting our results to articles published in the last 5 years reduces the number of articles to about 160,000. 



Finally, we can add additional keywords to make our search more specific. Adding the keyword food to our search brings up scholarly articles published in the last five years about the genetic engineering of food. Play around with your keywords and limiters until you find articles or books that will work for your project.



When you find resources that you'd like to save, click on the pushpin icon next to the item. Log in using your MyWofford credentials to save the items to your OneSearch account.