Researching for an Argumentative Paper or Speech

This tutorial is designed to introduce a beginning researcher to credible and reliable resources available in Steely Library. It will provide some tips for researching topics related to a persuasive assignment.

Characteristics of an Argumentative Assignment

An argumentative paper or speech is persuasive in nature. The purpose is to convince the audience to adopt a point of view. This is achieved by not only expressing your opinion, but backing up your opinion with facts. Facts can come from many different resources, including written news reports, research in scholarly journals, online statistics, the television, a book, etc.

How Do I Choose a Topic?

Topics are usually controversial in nature, such as abortion, gun control or global warming. It's easier (and more interesting) to research a topic you find compelling. Try to argue a point of view you feel passionate about. If you're having trouble coming up with a topic, a number of the resources mentioned below can help you select a topic as well.

Search 3 popular book series to find books on hot topics.

Please refer to the tutorial Choose a Research Topic & Establish a Research Plan for further help selecting a topic.

Research Using Steely Resources

A number of resources are available to NKU students, staff, and faculty that can aid in your research, no matter your level of research expertise. This tutorial will focus on a few resources that are helpful for finding information on controversial issues. The resources highlighted below can be accessed on or off campus.

  • CQ Researcher
  • Facts on File: Issues and Controversies
  • Opposing Viewpoints series

CQ Researcher

This online database is a collection of reports researched and written by journalists. It covers hundreds of controversial and current event issues. It can be searched using keywords in the box at the top or use the "Browse Topics" tab.  A list of current hot topics are also listed on the main page.

Full-length reports are usually 20+ pages and include an overview of the topic, background and chronology of events related to the topic, an assessment of the current situation, tables and maps, and bibliographies. In addition, many of the reports have a pro/con section. In this section, professionals related to the field (professors, administrators, congressional leaders, etc.) present two opposing points of view related to the topic. This section is particularly helpful for those writing or presenting an argument.

CQ Researcher:  Browse Pro/Con Sections by Topic

Facts on Files: Issues and Controversies

As the title suggests, this online resource highlights controversial topics. As with CQ Researcher, it is a collection of in-depth news reports. It is also a useful tool for selecting a topic. On the left side of the screen, users can browse "Issues: Pro and Con". A box on the home page also helps users select a research topic.

Facts on File Issues:  Pro and Con

Opposing Viewpoints

The Opposing Viewpoints series is a series of books available at Steely Library. Each book in the series focuses on a different issue and contains several essays written by professionals in that field. For example, one book in the series, International Adoptions, contains chapters such as: International Adoptions Should Be Encouraged; International Adoptions Should Be Discouraged; International Adoptions Alienate Children From Cultural Heritage; and Celebrity International Adoptions are Not In the Best Interest of the Child. Steely Library holds hundreds of these titles. In addition, Steeyl Library users have online access Gale Opposing Viewpoints, a database from the publisher of the series.

To find books in this series, search NKUIRE the library catalog.  At the library's homepage, the first tab is labeled "catalogs" and you can connect to the "Classic NKUIRE Catalog".  There you can type in "opposing viewpoints".  You will get more than 500 results.  To be more specific, do an Advanced search in the catalog, as illustrated below.

searching for opposing viewpoints in the library catalog

If you would like to narrow your search, add another word in the second box above, such as crime. This will tell the computer to search for only the books in the Opposing Viewpoints series that have something to do with crime.

In addition to the Opposing Viewpoints series, search three popular book series to find a book on your topic.

If you need help locating a book on the shelf or using NKUIRE, please come to the third floor Public Service Desk or use any of our Ask Steely Library services.

Steely Library phone number:  859.572.5457