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Researching a Controversial Topic

Where to Start

These subscription databases provides a balanced overview from multiple perspectives.

Next steps

In addition to those balanced and big picture resources above, you can also seek out the perspective of individuals or organizations with strong opinions.  Those stakeholders and how they view the controversy will lend added depth to your approach on the topic.  When identifying who those people or organizations are with an interest or a concern on a topic, consider this:

  • Who cares about this topic?
  • Is there a professional organization for those people? A governmental agency? An interest group?
  • Do they have a publication, webpage, blog, listserv or other means of communicating and sharing information?

 Once you've identified those groups with the different perspectives, begin seeking out who they are and where they might be discussing the controversial topic you've selected.

An Example of What Those Next Steps May Look Like

​Let's use Open Access as our sample topic. 

Here's a few possible answers to these questions for two groups who are invested in this issue:

  • Who cares about this topic?  Professors and Publishers
  • Is there a professional organization for those people? A governmental agency? An interest group?
    • Yes, for Professors: The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and any number of discipline specific professional organization like the American Chemical Society (ACS).
    • Yes, for Publishers: Association of American Publishers (AAP), lobbyists for the publishers and others
  • Do they have a publication, webpage, blog, listserv or other means of communicating and sharing information?
    • Yes, for Professors: AAUP, ACS, and special interest news publications like the Chronicle of Higher Education etc
    • Yes, for Publishers: AAP,  and other special interest news publications you identify, etc.
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