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Controversial Topics Research

What makes a topic controversial? What should I know about a topic? How can I learn the issue so that I can know where I stand? This guide sets you on a path to answer these questions.

Where do I start?

By far and away the BEST place to start your research is on your GCC library home page. Here we have resources that are designed for our college community.  We have:

  • books, both print books and e-books
  • magazine and newspaper articles
  • scholarly journal articles
  • specialized research tools called Campus Guides

AND we have LIBRARIANS who will help you get started, or help you get re-started if you get stuck.  It's our job! Let us help you!


From our home page, click on the Databases A - Z 

New GCC Library Homepage with arrow indicating the link to databases.


Library Databases

Search tips

Keyword search

When you put a word into a general search box, you are asking the system to retrieve any items that mention that word

Subject search

If you identify a word as a subject, the system will return items that are devoted to that topic.  Items returned don't just mention the topic, they are primarily focused on that topic.

What's the difference?

For example, if you put keywords voting rights Georgia, you will get articles that mention voting rights and Georgia.   You may be pleased to find an article about voting rights in the United States that may mention the word Georgia, but it won't be specifically about that state.  If you put "voting rights" as a subject (use the quotes and the words will be searched as a phrase) and Georgia as a subject, you will get articles that are devoted only to the subject of voting rights in that state.  Your searches will be more efficient as you learn how to combine keywords and subjects.

What if I don't get this?

Ask a librarian.  We love helping students hone their searching skills.

Is it OK to use just one search term?

Usually not.  Remember that people sometimes come up with different terms for the same topic.  People who advocate unrestricted gun ownership may call their topic "gun rights" or "second amendment rights".  People who advocate restricting or licensing gun ownership may use "gun control" or "firearm restrictions" or "gun safety", or even "gun violence".

Other examples of vocabulary differences.  People will sue different terms depending upon where they stand on the issue:

pro-choice / pro-life

illegal aliens / undocumented persons

sanctity of marriage / marriage equality

If you don't know the different terms, go to Opposing Viewpoints or CQ Researcher and make sure to read articles on both sides of the issue.  Pay attention to the language used by the author, and then use those words for your searches.

What if I need help finding the right words?

Ask a librarian.  We love helping students hone their searching skills.



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