CQ Researcher and Opposing Viewpoints in Context: Researching Controversial Topics Made Easy

When you need to write a paper that requires you to present an argument, we recommend going straight to CQ Researcher and Opposing Viewpoints in Context.

CQ Researcher and Opposing Viewpoints in Context have quite a few similarities.  This post will help you make the best use of both of them.  If you have already read our post on how to use Opposing Viewpoints in Context, you’ll find CQ Researcher easy to use.  We did a sample search on gun control to showcase how each one works.

CQ Researcher contains articles written by journalists.  It’s ideal when you need reporting and analysis.  The articles are carefully researched and referenced (the main topic page for gun control in CQ Researcher contains 80 footnotes!), with the links going to articles that are available free of charge online.  CQ Researcher presents you with ideas, making it an ideal place to start your research and develop your topic.  If you need scholarly or peer-reviewed articles to back up the ideas in the paper you turn in, you may need to do additional research in the Academic OneFile or EBSCO databases.

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CQ Researcher is a collection of reports on various topics, written exclusively for CQ Researcher.  Each main topic report provides a central comprehensive analysis of the topic, researched and written by a journalist.  The articles have a reputation for balanced, unbiased reporting.

The fact that CQ Researcher is a collection of reports makes it function a little differently from some of our other databases.  When you search Academic OneFile or EBSCO, there is such a large selection of articles that you will almost always find articles that fit your topic.  When you search CQ Researcher, it’s possible that you will find articles that only fit your topic tangentially, or possibly there won’t even be one that’s helpful to you.

When you do a search, the search results are sorted by relevance by default.  The first result will generally be for the main topic page if one exists for the topic.  If you prefer to see the most recent information on a topic, sort by Newest instead.  CQ Researcher is updated each week, but you may find that the main topic page for the issue you’re investigating hasn’t been updated for several years.  In some cases, there isn’t a good match between available reports and the topic you want to explore.

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From the main topic page, you can locate pro and con perspectives, which can be good starting places for identifying some of the key controversies associated with each issue.  Tip:  if you have to present both the pro and con of an issue in your paper, try the Browse Reports menu to see all of the Pro/Con write-ups that are available.

What we like best about CQ Researcher: if there is a topic page for your topic, you’ll get a thoroughly researched, analytical article with a pro/con essay section.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context tends to have more recent articles and tends to cover a broader range of topics.  The layout is easy to navigate.  Viewpoints provide short essays that highlight a particular facet of the issue.  These generally include questions to spur critical thinking and may include resources for further reading.  For scholarly articles, see Academic JournalsOpposing Viewpoints in Context is rich in multimedia sources, making it simple to find videos, images, podcasts, radio news stories, and maps, and to find links to reputable websites on the topic.  Opposing Viewpoints in Context, like Academic OneFile and other Gale products, provides audio files for all articles; these can be listened to while online or downloaded and listened to using an MP3 player.

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Opposing Viewpoints in Context functions more like a standard database, pulling up an assortment of viewpoints, academic articles, and multimedia resources related to the search term you put in.  While you do get many more options, you don’t get a tidy report like you do with CQ Researcher.

For debate teams across the country, Opposing Viewpoints in Context is the top pick for their preparatory research.  Having so many Viewpoint reports to select from is a big plus.

We found that Viewpoint reports vary widely in the quality of their referencing; some had substantial lists of resources at the end while others had none listed, and none had footnotes or other obvious citations of the works used to write the Viewpoint.  Because of this, students are likely to need to do additional research to find the original source of the information they use or to find scholarly or peer-reviewed sources to back up the claims they make.

What we like best about Opposing Viewpoints in Context: up-to-the-minute content and tons of multimedia resources.

These two resources are excellent for finding information that can help shape an argument for or against a controversial topic, but should be viewed in light of what they can and cannot provide.  Use these for brainstorming and developing arguments, but know that some research papers will require additional resources.  Check with your instructor to make sure you know what resources are acceptable for your assignment.

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