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ENGL 1301 SE Library Instruction: 5. Controversial issues

Things to consider if you are assigned a persuasive, argumentative, or controversial issues paper.

A Word About Researching Controversial Topics

Some ENGL 1301 assignments specify that you research a controversial topic. While you want to choose a topic that interests you, remember that you also need to build a well-researched argument based on facts. Ideally, you want to do some preliminary research before you choose your argument. Many complex topics have peer-reviewed research supporting both sides. If you do not find anything supporting the side you want to take, you may want to Ask a Librarian for help or discuss your thesis statement with your professor. 

While you are doing your preliminary research, remember that controversial topics are particularly prone to biased information. The higher the authority of your source, the better off you will be. Peer-reviewed scholarly journals are the most authoritative information sources. If you are doing an extremely current topic, be very cautious about the news sources you choose.

For more information about evaluating sources for bias, see the TCC Libraries Fake News: How to Spot It guide. You can also use these fact-checking resources to differentiate fact from propaganda: