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Controversial Issues: Selecting a Topic

Writing an opinion or argumentative paper? Need to find quality sources on controversial topics? This is the guide for you!

Selecting a Topic - Resources

Library Databases
  • CQ Researcher  - Provides researchers with an introductory overview; background and chronology on the topic; an assessment of the current situation; tables and maps; pro/con statements from representatives of opposing positions; and bibliographies of key sources.
  • ​​Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center  - Covers current social issues. Includes viewpoint articles, topic overviews, statistics, primary documents, links to websites, and full-text magazine and newspaper articles.

  • Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL)  - A collection of encyclopedias and handbooks on many subjects. Searchable as a group or individually.

On The Web

  •  - Provides resources for critical thinking and to educate without bias. We research issues that are controversial and important, and we present them in a balanced, comprehensive, straightforward, transparent, and primarily pro-con format at no charge.


Selecting a Topic



Sometimes thinking of a topic can be the hardest part of the research process. If you are stuck for a topic,look at the tips section below and try browsing available resources listed to the right.
Here are some basic tips for selecting a topic for any research paper. 
  • Choose a topic that interests you. If it's something you like, you'll enjoy it.
  • Make sure that your topic is not so broad that you are overwhelmed with information.
  • Make sure that your topic is not so narrow that you can't find enough information.
  • Limit your topic to a time period if necessary. For example, 2, 5 or 10 years.
  • Limit your topic to a geographical area if necessary. For example, the United States or Kentucky or Louisville.
  • Consider how much information you need. For example, your professor may require 3 scholarly articles, 1 book, and 1 newspaper article. It's best to know what you need before you even start looking.
  • Start your research early to eliminate stress and anxiety.