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El Paso Community College
Library Research Guides

ESOL 0341 - Controversial Issues Library Research (Patricia Velez): Selecting Your Topic

Selecting Your Topic

Need to select a controversial issues topic?

  • Browse for overviews in subject areas you are interested in and do some background reading.
  • Once you choose a topic, narrow it down to a question, with at least two defensible sides. 
  • Find credible resources for both sides of the issue; not just ones that you agree with. ‚Äč

Follow these steps.

Keep an open mind. You may need to refine your topic, ask new questions, and repeat steps as you go along.

  1. Identify and define your topic. Put your research topic into a question such as, "What is the debate surrounding vaccination refusal?" Now you can identify the main concepts and keywords, including alternate terms, for your topic.

  2. Background reading will deepen your understanding and vocabulary around the topic, which will help you identify search terms and develop an effective research question. Subject encyclopedias (in print or in Credo Reference) are excellent resources. 

  3. Use Search It! or the library classic catalog to find books. Use your keywords to perform both keyword and subject searches. 

  4. Use Search It! or individual databases to find journal articles. Be sure to choose appropriate databases for your topic.

  5. Search for reliable and authoritative website resources. Try the librarian recommended websites on this guide.

  6. Always evaluate what you find. Consider timeliness, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose.

  7. Cite your sources. Citing gives proper credit to the authors of materials you use and allows your professors to verify your conclusions.

  8. Go to Gale in Context: Opposing Viewpoints and select Browse Issues to see a comprehensive list of topics.

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