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ENG 101/102: Basic Research

For English 101 and English 102 essay research and writing assignments




World’s largest statistics portal, access to data from over 18,000 sources: government, business, finance, health, etc. in consistent, usable formats. Also provides premium studies and reports on many subjects

Pro & Con Web Site

ProCon Org

This web site covers many issues from the pro and con perspective.  It appears relatively reliable.

Be sure to check with your instructor before citing any online only source!

Google Scholar

Google Scholar can be helpdul in Pro Con research since searching can be easier and more flexible 

Google Scholar Search

New York Times Room for Debate

New York Times : Room for Debate

In Room for Debate, The Times invites knowledgeable outside contributors to discuss news events and other timely issues. Reader comments are moderated Monday through Friday.

New! State/Local Statistics


Also known as: 

Publicly generated statistics from U.S. states, counties, local communities and school districts, all combined, collated and presented in standardized formats.

Persuasive Research Papers

Persuasive, Position and Pro - Con Library Resources

Many beginning researchers find the resources listed below helpful since they provide significant "canned" background and pro/con arguments on current event topics.

Often written by staff or experts, and usually well researched, these resources, thoug, are not scholarly or peer reviewed. You need to check with your instructor before citing from any  "canned" collections like these.

Nonetheless they can be an excellent and efficient way to get lots of background information and different viewpoints.

Reference Sources 

CQ Researcher (Online)

Rolling ten-year collection of well-research articles on current events topics and controversies. Look for issues on specific topics or for content based on a text search. Look for a Pro/Con section and list of references. 

Opposing Viewpoints (Online)

Good background and/or opinions on issues and controversies. Opposing Viewpoints re-publishes relevant articles, book excerpts, stats, etc.

Taking Sides (Print only)

Each volume has a theme.  Compilations of previously published items, mostly articles, in a pro con framework
Not online, kept in Reference at call number:
Ref H31.T22 B87 

Circulating Collection (Second Floor, can be checked out)

Reference Shelf

Circulation Collection, over a hundred volumes, most in the "popular" genre, shelved under call number :
PN4181 .R4

When searching library databases or the catalog, realize that they seldom assign articles basic evaluative categories like for or against and/or pro or con. Adding words like this is generally not a reliable search strategy.

This makes searching challenging..

One approach is to look for articles expressing opposed viewpoints. Frequently these are assigned a sub-division like  “moral and ethical aspects” and thus can help narrow results. Phrases like medical ethics, business ethics, environmental ethics, etc. may also prove useful if assigned for specific topics. 

Try to establish the most narrow topic that includes your interest and use these words in a general search. Dig intro relevant looking items to determine if they have pro/con value. Examine relevant subject headings and refine your search.

Finally, try refining searches with other terms like “benefits,” “risks,” “opposing,” “ethics,” "drawbacks," "advantages," "controversy" etc. -- this can be hit or miss.

Web Sites
Not to be cited as a source without instrtor's permission.  As with all free public web site on controversial or political topics, watch for biases, agendas and sponsors.

Avoid any site unsourced, uncited, untraced statistics.

Many pro/con persuasive or position essays or speeches hinge on presenting supportive evidence for the agrument(s). Targeting needed "facts" for a particular point can be challenging, even in Google. 

In Google or other searche engine, oviosuly adding the word "statistics" or other relevant terms to search topics may be effective, and maybe not.

For example: minimum wage statistics, per capita defense spending.

Web designers, developers, and advertisers are well aware that statistics are a VERY popular search entry. Beware of many sites that "scrape" data like this by robot. StatisticsBrain is one very popular example, data is sourced but not cited. Double check data.

News sites often quote statistics in covering current events (for example: general motors recalls) but be wary of unsourced data, double check anything from a news site, even the New York Times.

There are a NUMBER number of well know organizations that do extensive data gathering, research, think tank reports, compile mindboggling amounts of data. Much of this is offered for free.   Also note that most national organizations/associations have home pages with some sorts of data or statistics.