Answered By: Elyse Wolf
Last Updated: Aug 30, 2019     Views: 208

  1. Choose a debatable topic and create a strong thesis statement. It is so much easier to find counterarguments if you’ve selected a topic that is controversial.
    1. The ENG123 research guide, specifically the Crafting Your Argument section, was created to help you with this part of the assignment.
    2. The Online Writing Center has a great video on how to create a good strong thesis statement for an argumentative paper entitled The Argumentative Thesis
  2. Do some background research on your topic.  Carefully read through any research you find on your topic for clues and keywords that signal an opposing viewpoint.  If your topic is not listed in the Opposing Viewpoints in Context or CQ Researcher databases, which both provide pro/con articles, try looking up your topic in one or more of our reference databases.
    1. FAQ: Where can I access Credo Reference?
    2. FAQ: Where can I access Encyclopaedia Britannica?
    3. List of databases that include reference materials

  3. Experiment with your keywords.  Is your search too narrow or too broad? Try adding or removing keywords as needed.  Chat with a librarian if you would like some help brainstorming keywords.
    1. FAQ: How do I refine or narrow down my topic?
    2. ENG123 Research Guide: Choosing Your Keywords
    3. FAQ: What is boolean searching and how can I use it?
  4. Use a different database.  Opposing Viewpoints in Context is a great database if you have picked a controversial topic that is currently in the news, but if you haven’t, you will need to broaden your search to other databases.  Multi-search is the search box on the library home page and it searches many of our databases all at once.  You might also try databases that are specific to a certain subject.
    1. FAQ: When should I use the Multi-Search for my research?
    2. FAQ: How do I find a database on a specific subject?
  5. Try keywords that imply opposition to your argument.  This will depend on your topic, but usually words like negative, disadvantage, debate, controversy, alternative, danger, etc., should bring up relevant results.  For example, if your argument is that all children should be vaccinated, you might try searches like these:
    • vaccinations AND (risk OR disadvantages OR danger) AND children
    • vaccinations AND (controversy OR debate) AND children

Content Authored by: GS

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