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Rhetoric Research Guide: Researching Opposing Viewpoints

Welcome to the Research Guide for Rhetoric.  Research projects for this course are specific in form and content. Please follow instructions provided in your syllabus and by your professor. The suggested databases are available linked from here and from the Electronic Resources section found on the library home page.  Print resources are available in the PHC on-campus collection or by mail to distance learning members of the PHC community.  You may check the location and availability of an item in the on-campus collection through the online catalog, Voyager .

When choosing a policy topic for your rhetoric project, consider the following questions:

  • Is this a topic that is currently being debated?
  • Can you identify a specific group of advocates on each side of the issue?

Professional library assistance is invaluable in this course and is available on campus, by phone at 540-441-8400, or by email at


Subject-specific Databases


CQ Researcher - Reports are published weekly on a topic of current interest. Reports include an introductory overview; background and chronology on the topic; an assessment of the current situation; tables and maps; pro/con statements from representatives of opposing positions; and bibliographies of key sources. Articles range from 1923-present. Browse by topic, by date, or search by keyword. With the number of years included, it may give you a way to look at how the attitudes and arguments have changed over time.

Congressional Digest Debates covers opposing views on current controversial issues. Documents are drawn from Congress, the Supreme Court, the United Nations and other international tribunals.

Stratfor is a news analysis provider that covers current political, economic, and military developments can provide background material for debates with international implications.


General Databases


ProQuest and Academic Search Premier - Periodical databases covering a wide range of topics. Use the "Advanced Search" option and limit your results to scholarly journals.

LexisNexis - Database of newspaper articles, broadcast news transcripts, SEC filings, tax law, state and federal cases, state and federal codes, elected officials, legistlative bills, primary sources in US history, and statistical tables.

JSTOR - Database of scholarly articles from a broad variety of disciplines. Articles are not added to JSTOR until they are at lease 3 years old. In Advanced Search you can check the box to include "articles outside of JSTOR" to find titles of articles published in recent years.




Thomas is a government depository for Congressional information about proposed and approved legislation.

Heritage Foundation offers scholarly researched policy position papers on a variety of subjects, usually from a more conservative perspective.

Brookings Institute provides scholarly researched policy position papers on a variety of subjects, usually from a more liberal perspective.

Center for Strategic and International Studies offers research into many current and controversial subjects with international implications.

You may also check the  Electronic Resources page for think-tanks and other related sources.




Search Voyager to find items in the PHC on campus collection on your specific subject.

The following book series provides an overview or examples of stances on a controversial issue. Remember that these are only an overview of one person’s opinion, not a sufficient base for an entire research project. Generally, references are provided for further research on the topic.

  • "Opposing Viewpoints" series - Each book is its own controversial topic. The library currently owns 4 books in the series: Nationalism, Patriot Act, Illegal Immigration, and Environment. NOTE: This series approaches policy controversies from a very general perspective, you will need more specific and substantive resources. 
  • "Taking Sides" Reference Library - Each book covers a variety of topics within a broader topic, i.e. controversial political issues. The PHC collection currently contains seven different topics: religion, world politics, moral issues, American history, world history, political issues, social issues.
  • Counterpoints - Each book presents the arguments on a theological contention. Some are not likely to be policy issues, such as views on the rapture, but others are, such as women in the ministry.

Don't forget to search  eBooks for more resources available immediately! 


Research Tips


  • Search by subject: Once you have located an item in the catalog, click on a subject term within the record to search for other items on the same subject.
  • Once you locate an appropriate resource, potential valuable resources may be listed in the item's bibliography.
  • If you you are unable to find what you need within the PHC on-campus or online collection, you may request an item or article through Interlibrary loan (ILL).   An ILL request may be placed directly through the library database WorldCat.  If you have difficulty placing a request, you may use the form provided in the Interlibrary loan section of the library website or the library staff will be glad to assist you.
  • Zotero is a citation management system that will help you collect and organize your resources and then seamlessly create footnotes, endnotes, in-text citations, and bibliographies.  You can download and watch online tutorials, but you may benefit from a librarian’s help in quickly learning how to use Zotero.

Proper citation for any research paper is essential.  Please use the citation style required by your professor.  Citation guides are available in the library and library staff are available to guide your search.  Online citation helps are available at a variety of sites including OWL (Online Writing Lab)


Created: McConnell, 2007  Reviewed: Dr. James Tallmon, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013.   Revised: Pensgard, 2009, 2011, and Thornhill 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014.