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Using Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center

Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center is a good database for starting research on a controversial topic. It has almost three million articles, and many of them take one side or the other of an issue.

Opposing Viewpoints is available via the “Databases” link on the library homepage. It is listed alphabetically and as one of the subject databases for “Current Affairs” and “Freshman sources.” On its home page, Opposing Viewpoints gives you two ways to access its content—“Basic Search” or by selecting a listed topic.

Basic Search

The basic search option looks for a match for your search term among all article keywords or subjects, or within the text of all articles.


Search for words in: Subject Keyword Entire document

A Keyword search searches the article’s title, introductory text, and subject terms for the word.

A Subject search looks for articles about a certain topic—the term you type in the search box.

An Entire document search will retrieve all documents that mention the word. It will include articles that only mention the term once, but a subject search will retrieve documents where the word is essential to the article.

More search options

You may also limit your search by content type or content level.

By content type:

Academic Journals Reference
Magazines Statistics
Multimedia Viewpoints
News Websites
Primary Sources  

Most of the content types are self-explanatory. Viewpoints are essays that take one side or the other of a contentious issue. Reference refers to articles taken from reference works like encyclopedias. Academic Journals have longer articles written by experts and reviewed by other experts. Primary Sources are original documents, like statements made by a senator on a piece of legislation.

There are three content levels: basic, intermediate, and advanced. Unless you specify a content level, you will retrieve documents at all content levels.

Depending on the search options you use, you can also sort the results by publication date, document title, document type, publication title, content level, or relevance. If you sort by relevance, the articles that appear first will mention your search term with the greatest frequency, but they may be older than other articles that mention the term less. You may prefer to sort by publication date to get articles that are more current.

Select a popular topic

There is a second way to search for articles. The right side of the home page lists many contentious issues. If you see your topic listed, click on the term. If not, look for synonyms. For example, instead of “death penalty,” click on the term “capital punishment” and you will retrieve a list of results.

At the top of the results page is a tab for each content type. The first articles you retrieve fall under the “Viewpoints” heading—in this case, essays supporting or opposing capital punishment. However, you may select another tab to find other content types like “Academic Journals” or “Statistics” on the same topic.

You can also sort the results by publication date, document title, document type, publication title, content level, or relevance. Again, it is recommended you sort by relevance to achieve the best results.

When you get your search results, the sidebar on the left side of the page shows hyperlinked subject terms you can use to further narrow your topic (see example below). Clicking on one of these terms will retrieve articles on that particular subject.

Subject Terms

• Capital Punishment
• Capital Punishment Cases of 1972 (I)
o See Furman V. Georgia 408 U.S. 238 (1972)
• Capital Punishment Cases of 1976 (I)
o See Gregg V. Georgia 428 U.S. 153 (1976)
• Capital Punishment Cases of 1976 (II)
o See Jurek V. Texas 428 U.S. 262 (1976)
• Capital Punishment Cases of 1976 (IV)
o See Woodson V. North Carolina 428 U.S. 280 (1976)
• Catholics Against Capital Punishment

When you see a result that looks good for your research, click on the title and you will be brought to the entire article. The sidebar on the left will list related subjects.


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