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ENG 101 - Controversial Issues / Topics

This guide contains guidance and recommended sources for Eng 101 current events or controversial issues assignments.

1. Getting Started

Exclamation PointFirst Things First - Assignment Requirements

Before you begin work on any research paper, examine the assignment closely to familiarize yourself with the requirements. Make note of any and all requirements on the assignment sheet, and ask your instructor for clarification on any parts you're not sure about. Some things to think about are:

  • How long is the paper? 
  • How many sources?
  • What kind of sources?
  • How do you cite sources?
  • What is due?
  • When is it due?


Selecting a Topic

The first thing you need to do before you begin a research paper is to select a topic that you're going to write about. Consider the following:

Q. Do you have a choice?

Review your assignment - are you allowed to choose a topic or does your instructor assign you one? Are certain topics off-limits? Is there a list of topics to choose from?

Q. Do you have an interest?

If you have a choice on what topic you can write about, consider which one you find the most interesting.  When dealing with controversial issues, think about which topics you care about or have an interest in. Which topic do you think would be the easiest to write about? Which topic would you have the most to say about?

Q. Are there sources?

Before you totally commit to a topic, you'll want to make sure that there is an appropriate amount of information available on that topic. Some topics that are brand new or lesser known may not have enough articles written about them for you to do the research you need for the assignment. Do some searching in the library's databases to make sure there are sources, and Ask-A-Librarian to double-check if you're not sure there are enough sources for a topic you're really interested in.

‚ÄčOn the other hand, some topics are very popular and may have so many articles written about them that you get an overwhelming number of results when you search. For example, there are over 1,000 results for "climate change" in the Opposing Viewpoints database. To avoid that, you should narrow your search to a more specific topic in climate change, such as emissions. Continue reading on the next page for more on narrowing your topic.