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Speech - Argument/Persuasive Speech

3. Start Your Research

Narrow SignOnce you've done some initial background reading, it's time to narrow down your topic to what you really want to argue about.  Remember your assignment requirements and consider what you've read thus far.

Ask yourself:

  • What issue or controversy are you interested in learning about?
  • What makes that issue interesting to you?
  • What factors influence the issue?
  • What are the opposing viewpoints on this issue? How will they strengthen your argument?

Think how you can discuss the issue in your presentation and consider what arguments you might want to make.

Research Hints

When doing research for an argument/persuasive speech, keep in mind:

  • How up-to-date is your information? Having outdated information could show holes in your argument.
  • Statistics can be great sources to use in speeches. Check out the library's guide on where to find statistics.
  • Don't rely on a single source for your argument. Finding multiple sources that support your argument will show its strength.


Keywords for your search will primarily be different forms or variations of the name of the issue you chose. If you are searching a phrase, put quotation marks around the phrase.

For example:

government and "net neutrality"

Some other search terms for government might include: regulation, policy, legislation, etc.

Also, you may find some ideas for keywords in the background information you have already researched.

For example: 

The government agency that deals with net neutrality is the Federal Communications Commission, also known as the FCC. Including those terms in your search will help you find more information about your topic.

Tip: Remember that when you are searching for a phrase, such as "net neutrality," it is important to put quotation marks around the phrase. This tells the database to search that specific phrase in article. If you did not include the quotation marks, the search might return articles about just nets or just neutrality, but not "net neutrality."

Keywords work best by trial-and-error. Never do only one search. Some keywords will work better than others, and some keywords may lead you to different articles than you found in your first search. Search the databases with the keywords you selected to find relevant articles. And remember to ask a librarian if you need assistance coming up with keywords or looking for sources.