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Controversial Topics: Getting Started

Frequently, research topics are of a controversial nature, and there are various sides of an issue to consider. Some library databases on this page provide pro/con information for these topics to be used to support an argument or point of view.


This libguide will help you locate information on researching controversial issues for writing persuasive essays or persuasive speeches.

Your purpose is to convince your reader or listener of your point of view. You may want them to change their minds on particular subject or convince them to take a course of action or accept your perspective.


Persuasive essays may also be called argumentative essays or position arguments. In a successful essay or speech, you:

  • define the issue
  • take a clear position
  • make a convincing argument
  • acknowledge opposing views

You can read about argumentative essays online at the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).

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Tips for getting started

Generally, your research for a persuasive essay or speech will involve one or more of the following:

  • choosing a topic that interests you or researching a teacher-assigned topic to find an angle that you like
  • locating reference resources to provide background information on your topic
  • locating books and other library materials on your topic
  • locating journal or magazine articles for current research, statistics or analysis
  • locating websites specifically aimed at your topic
  • citing your sources in MLA or APA style


Women's rights protest in Egypt



By Al Jazeera English (IMG_0327) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Heather Fitzgerald
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