GOVT 2302: American Government - National, State, and Local


Declaration of IndenpendenceThe best library assignments are those that use a variety of resources including books, newspaper and journal articles, and internet sites. We encourage you to use all of these sources for this paper. Books are often the best resources for government topics. You may apply for a library card and request materials online. We hope you will take full advantage of the many resources our libraries offer.   Please contact Lone Star College-Kingwood Librarians or write to James Monroe using your ANGEL e-mail with any questions you may have during your research.


As you begin, narrow your topic to a size that you can manage.  Volumes have been written about the First Amendment alone! Consider keywords that will help you find the information you need. This could be the subject of an amendment, a case, or names of individuals.  Use these keywords for locating information in the library catalog, electronic databases, and on the internet.

Sample Keywords:  Freedom of speech; Women's suffrage; Clinton and impeachment; Brown v. Board of Education; Miranda v. Arizona; Filibuster; Capital Punishment; Habeas Corpus; Earl Warren.


Research Paper: There is a required paper for this course.  This paper will be 10-12 double-spaced, typewritten pages in 12 point font and should be a topic taken from the list of suggested topics below or a topic previously approved by the instructor.   The style and form of your papers should be consistent with MLA style and formatting. Conferences (as needed) will be arranged by the instructor with the student on a one-to-one basis.  Style and form will be examined as well as the student’s ability to be clear, concise, and objective in recounting his/her subject.  

The writing requirement may also be carried out through a field experience which must be carried out under the direction of the instructor and reported on at the same time research papers are due.  If you wish to attempt this, contact the instructor.

This paper must be turned in by the due date.  Failure to do so will result in a reduction of one letter grade for each day it is past due.

Academic Ethics:  It is expected that all students will engage in ethical conduct and will not engage in copying work or collusion on exams or the production of research papers.  Such violation of ethical standards will result in an automatic grade of "0" on the work in question with no opportunity to make up the work.  This expectation also extends to proper citations and credit for works used in the research paper.  All quotes, paraphrases, or facts taken from another source must be cited.

Suggested Subjects for Writing Requirement

The following is a list of suggested subjects that may be used for your research paper.  This list is not all inclusive, and you may choose another topic related to government with the approval of the instructor.  Failure to get prior approval will result in a grade of "F" on the paper.

  • First Amendment (Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Right of Assembly)
  • Second Amendment (Right to Bear Arms)
  • Fourth Amendment (Searches and Seizures)
  • Fifth Amendment (Self-Incrimination and Due Process)
  • Sixth Amendment (Public Trial and the Right to Legal Counsel)
  • Eighth Amendment (Cruel and Unusual Punishment)
  • Sixteenth Amendment (Federal Income Tax)
  • Nineteenth Amendment (Women’s Right to Vote)
  • Twenty-Fifth Amendment (Disability of President and Vacancy in Office of VP)
  • Lincoln's Suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus during the War Between the States
  • Land Grant Colleges / Morrill Act
  • Equal Rights Amendment
  • Right of Privacy
  • FDR's Court Packing Plan (1937)
  • Use of Presidential Pardon
  • Use of Executive Agreements in Foreign Affairs
  • Civilian Supremacy over Military Affairs
  • Development of President's Cabinet
  • US Senate's Use of Filibuster/Cloture
  • Presidential Impeachment
  • Federal Reserve System
  • The Warren Court
  • The Role of the Courts in Changing Law
  • War Powers of the President and Congress

Research Paper Guidelines

The following guidelines must be adhered to in your research paper.  Failure to do so will result in a lowered grade.

  • The paper must have a cover page the course, the instructor's name, the due date of the paper, the title, and your name.  Any paper received without your name will be discarded and counted as not received.
  • You must use the MLA style to write this paper.  This is particularly important for your citations and list of references.
  • This paper should be not less than 10 pages, double spaced, 12 point font, and one inch margins.  Cover pages and Bibliography pages do not count as part of the page count.
  • It is my philosophy that if you can't write it, you don't know it.  Therefore grammar, style, and spelling will be considered in your final grade.
  • You must use source citations for all quotes, paraphrases, or borrowed ideas or facts.
  • Choose a topic that most interests you.  It must be approved by your professor.  Failure to have your topic approved will result in a grade of "F".
  • Do preliminary research to ensure that you have sufficient sources to support your paper.  In a paper of this length you should have not fewer than five sources.  While appropriate Internet sources may be used, it is a requirement of this class that not more than half of your sources come from the Internet. 
  • Every well-written paper should have at least three main parts.  You should have an opening statement with a thesis which addresses the question or issue you are researching.  The body of the paper should present the evidence to support your thesis.  If there is contradicting evidence from your sources, you should pay attention to that also.  The paper should end with a well stated conclusion that either supports or refutes your thesis and explains why.
  • The paper should also discuss the effect or repercussion of the issue you are researching.
  • Late papers will be penalised one letter grade for each day you are late.  This is calendar days, not class days.  Remember that if you write a "C" paper and are 2 days late, this will immediately convert to a grade of "F".

  • Your Student ID is also your library card (on the back). If you are a distance learning student, you can apply online for a library card.   Use your card to 1) Place a hold on a book  2) Access databases from home. 
  • The catalog is online at Lone Star College-Kingwood Library Catalog
  • Electronic books or eBooks are available in the eBook Collection. You will need a the barcode number from your Lone Star College ID or library card to read eBooks from off-campus. Create a Free Account to save favorite book titles and notes in EBSCO's eBook Collection. 

Here is a small sampling of books your library may have. They are all available in the Lone Star College-Kingwood Library. These and many other very good sources of information can be found by searching the library catalog using keywords such as the company name, industry name, career title, business ratios, and mission statements.
  • REF KF154 .W47 West's Encyclopedia of American Law. Explanations of cases, trends and terms.
  • REF KF4548 .E53 Encyclopedia of the American Constitution.  Good starting point for acts, cases, trends, Supreme Court justices.
  • REF JK511 .E53 Encyclopedia of the Presidency.  Information about the office and about the presidents themselves.
  • REF KF4557 .C665 Constitutional Amendments.  Understand an amendment before searching for more detailed information.
  • REF KF101.1 .L38 Decisions of the United States Supreme Court.  We have 1968 - 2009. Decisions from that time period are covered in detail.
  • REF KF156 .B53 Black's Law Dictionary. Brief definitions of legal terms.

Research databases are purchased by the libraries for your research use. Use them to find articles in newspapers and journals, letters, reference books, illustrations, photographs and more. Home access to article databases is available with your updated library card barcode.

If you need assistance finding an article contact the Reference Librarians and they will see that you get the article. They will need full bibliographic information - and your name and address. Send your phone number as well, so they can contact you if necessary.

Use the barcode number from your Lone Star College ID or library card to login to these online journal databases.

The following databases contain information on United States government:

  • Westlaw Campus Research
    Seach legal encyclopedias, law reviews and use WestLaw's exclusive KeyCite® to research the history of federal and state cases, statutes and administrative decisions.
  • Academic Search Complete
    Scholarly, multi-discipline, full-text database.  
  • Legal Collection
    Find the full-text for 250 law journals.
  • America's Historical Newspapers - 1690-2000
    If you are looking for original documents, you will find newspaper articles from various historical newspapers across the country. Be sure to limit your dates to the relevant time period.


The Internet will be a wonderful source of original documents. Browse the sites we have suggested below. Remember, you do want to find reputable sites. Look at:

  • Accuracy - The information should be researched and show proof of that research. 
  • Source - Look at the domain:  .edu   .gov   .org  .net are valid research sources. Your company's website is also a valuable resource.
  • Authority - What are the author's credentials? (Don't quote from another college freshman's paper.)
  • Coverage - Does the page have the information you need for your research?
  • Objectivity - If a work is biased, use it - just make sure your professor knows YOU know. Offer both sides of issues, where applicable.

These Internet sites offer all types of information.  Compare statistics and figures from one site to those from others to ensure accuracy. Many companies have home pages on the Internet, keep in mind the objectivity level of these sites.
  • Legal Information Institute 
    A legal information gateway from Cornell. 
    The government's index to all government web sites. Here you can find full text of amendments, Supreme Court cases and historical documents.
  • FindLaw  
    The annotations to constitutional amendments will help you explore them.


Support for a successful paper is more than finding the right resources.  Putting it all together takes time and effort.  Sometimes it takes additional help from the librarians or tutors.   Please consider the following aids.

Citing Sources Using the Library MLA Style Guide | LSC-Kingwood library guide. Examples of both paper and electronic citations.

Learning Center  |   Check our hours for in-house tutoring.

Page created by Sue Goodwin. Feb. 2007.  Updated 8/11 by KMB.