Rhetoric & Composition

Welcome to the Research Guide for Rhetoric.

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The library catalog searches a variety of resources by title, author, keyword, or phrase linking you to ebooks, print books in the on-campus collection, and journal articles from both general and subject specific databases. The more specific your search terms, the more specific the results will be.  For our Distance Learning (DL) students, excerpts from print items held in the on-campus library can be provided on request

If you are accessing electronic resources from off-campus and are required to log in, use your student portal user name and password to gain access. If you have difficulty with the website or accessing any resources, please let library staff know by email at askalibrarian@phc.edu or  library@phc.edu.

Professional librarians are cheerfully available by email at askalibrarian@phc.edu, in the library, or by phone at 540-441-8400.


  • Oxford English Dictionary (OED) -  is the definitive work on the English language and a great place to start for general information if you are unfamiliar with an author or term. 
  • JSTOR contains hundreds of scholarly journal articles in a wide range of disciplines. Issues from the most recent two to five years for each title are not included in this collection.
  • ProQuest Research Library and Academic Search Premier provide access to 1,000's of articles in the broad areas of social sciences and law, many with full-text, images and graphics. If you are new to database searching, you will find these two easy to navigate.

  • Congressional Digest Debates presents both sides of trending controversial political topics.

Internet Resources

"Think tanks" offer access to research that may be helpful if you are asked to provide an argumentative paper or presentation on a  cureent and/or controversial subject. The following think tanks can be helpful in providing current topic research on various points of view . 

Reference Books in the PHC Print Collection 

Bedford researcher /Palmquist - Ref PE 1478 .P35 2016

Elements of rhetoric / Whately - PE 1402 .W6 2009

Elements of style  / Strunk and White - Ref PE 1408 .S772  2000

Manual for writers / Turabian -  Ref LB 2369 .T8 2018

Pocket Style Manual / Hacker - PE1408 .H26 2018

Evaluate Your Sources

Various websites have as their goal to provide access to scholarly information regarding specific authors.  Given the individual nature of potential topics chosen for writing projects in this course, it is impossible to provide suggested authoritative websites for all of them. However, it is particularly important to vet all Internet sources for scholarship / authority. To ensure the authority of your source, consider the following:

  • Authoritative: Is the author a recognized expert in this field? What are his credentials to speak to this subject?  Is the publisher a recognized academic publishing organization, such as a university or government department? A blog or Wikipedia is never an authoritative source. 
  • Current: Is this the most recent information available on this subject? This may be more important in some disciplines than in others. Current sources in history would not possibly be as helpful as primary source documents, while current sources in medical research or international policy would be essential.
  • Accurate: Does the source show evidence of bias? Does it fail to support assumptions or cite its sources? Do other experts agree with this author? Is there a financial incentive? 

Research Tips

  • askalibrarian@phc.edu will connect you with a helpful, cheerful, and thorough librarian.
  • Tutoring assistance is available for free online at ssc@phc.edu or in the Library Study Center several nights each week . Check with the library for current days and times. 
  • Click on a subject term in the record of a book to search for other books on the same subject.

  • Once you locate a helpful book or article, you may find other helpful resources listed in the item’s bibliography.

  • Chicago/Turabian is the preferred citation style for this course. Citation help needed? Check out  the OWL (Online Writing Lab) online style manual at Chicago/Turabian

Created: Thornhill, 2011. Last updated: Thornhill, 2023.

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