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Westerly Middle School Library: Digital Citizenship Resources

Promoting lifelong learning and encouraging exploration in curious minds.

How to Research Controversial Topics

It is always important to make sure you are finding reliable sources for your research, but it is even more crucial when researching controversial topics. These topics are often presented with the personal opinions of the writer, so the research needs to be aware of the author's credibility, biases, and motivations.  It is essential that the researcher understand their own biases and the purpose of their research when viewing sources.  Here are some tips for dealing with hot topics:


  • Determine the purpose of your research.  Are you arguing one side of an issue or trying to gather multiple perspectives? Will you be debating with facts or demonstrating popular opinions? 


  • Knowing what kind of information you are looking for will help you locate the ideas you need but you should still look for facts on all sides of the issue in order to fully understand the details of your argument.


  • Always consult at least 3 sources.  You will want to make sure you are finding accurate facts, not just opinions. You can check the facts you find in your sources against each other to see if the information you are being presented is reliable.


  • Understand the author's credentials (what makes them an expert) and their purpose for providing this information.  This will help you know if the source is intended to be factual or opinion based.

Points of View

Points of View Reference Center

The Points of View Reference Center (PVRC) is a resource designed for people who are researching topics from multiple perspectives.  The PVRC offers credible information on current events and controversial topics.  This is a great place to find opposing viewpoints and counter-arguements for argumentation and debate.

Logo - Link to Search

EBSCO - Academic Search Complete

Academic Search Elite

Academic Search Elite (ASE) is a research Database from the EBSCO company.  ASE collects and organizes articles wide range of topics from reliable and scholarly sources.  This database will help you find credible information about your topic created by academic researchers.  Use the filters, limiters, and sorting options to help you narrow your result lists to just the ideas you need most.

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Using Newspapers & Magazines for Research

Using Newspapers to Research Controversial Topics