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Controversy and Opinion: Pro/Con Topics & Research Resources

Pro/Con, commentary, controversy, opinion, and issues.

People have strong opinions about almost everything, and their conflicting ideas often spark intense debates that can go on for many years and even lead to violence and war. Issues become controversial over values, different cultural norms, economic disparity, and social power relationships. 

Controversial issues can be difficult to discuss, especially when they concern race, injustice, and personal freedom--which all have material or psychological consequences for marginalized groups.  Because of the stakes, there is a lot of intensity to these sources and they must be analyzed carefully.  Sometimes sources make false claims and misrepresent facts (fake news). Look for well-argued, well documented opinions by recognized authorities as appropriate information sources for your research paper. Examine diverse viewpoints, including those voices that have been marginalized in the past, and possibly even those voices you disagree with. Be immediately cautious of any sources that question the right of any group to life, dignity, or well-being. These are never legitimate "viewpoints."

You can strengthen your argument by evaluating sources, comparing points of view, fact checking, and understanding the motives of the writers. You can seek objectivity, but most importantly train yourself to recognize the bias in your source and whether it is appropriate for your assignment. It is equally important to use it responsibly and treat in your paper for what it is. Ask your instructor or librarian if you are not sure.

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