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English 101 Orientation - B. Salazar
Nov. 8, 2006

  • Intro & welcome

  • Library web site the best place to start your research!

  • How to find sources of controversial topics and choose one that interests you:

    • Browse WebCat for books in the ZA3050. call number area.

    • Use our list of controversial topics books here.

    • Other strategies:

      • Go to the Issues & Controversies database from our homepage. Click on "Need a Research Topic? Click Here" in the upper right corner of the screen.

      • Go to the SIRS database from our homepage. Click on "Leading Issues" on the
        center of the screen. Each issue guide has a Pro/Con tab at the top.

      • Go to the Congressional Digest Online database from our homepage. Click on "Pro
        & Con Online" link on the left. Topics are divided into civil rights & judiciary, economic
        & environmental policy, government & politics, and foreign policy.

      • In addition, for analysis and commentary from a specific point-of-view, look for publications from think tanks.

  • How to arrive at a position on a controversial issue:

    • Find works that offer both sides of an issue

      • Opposing Viewpoints series

      • The History of Issues series

      • At Issue series

      • Current Controversies

      • Rio Hondo Library list of Controversial Topics

    • Attempting to search a general database such as ProQuest for your issue with terms such as support, oppose, pro, con, etc. can be very ineffective. Results are not usually what you had hoped for:  (this was a search for "parental notification" AND support)

      ...Mark DiCamillo said the uptick in support for Proposition 85, the measure to require parental notification for teen abortions, though slight, could signify that it was headed toward passage. A similar measure that failed last year, Proposition 73, was down slightly in a poll taken at the same point before last year's election....-- [Clea Benson. Bee Capitol BureauThe Sacramento BeeSacramento, Calif.: Nov 2, 2006. pg. A.1]
  • Basic sequence of steps for researching your topic:        Example here
    • If the issue is completely new to you, start with an overview in a subject encyclopedia.
    • Find books or series that give both sides to an issue.
    • Follow up references in bibliographies.
    • Do a search in ProQuest for one of the articles cited in the bibliography and then click on "More Like This".
    • Use a subject guide or web directory to find relevant, authoritative web sites on your topic or to find sources of "hot topics".
    • Check those web sites for links to "Publications", "Reports", "Links" and the like.
    • Look for scholarly articles (if appropriate) in online databases to get a substantive treatment or critical analysis on some aspect of your topic.
    • Look for magazine articles in online databases to get a layperson's treatment of the topic (tend to be more opinionated and less scholarly or balanced).
    • Look for newspaper editorials if you want opinion pieces that dovetail with your own.


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