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Pro & Con: Controversial Topics: Search Strategies

Finding material to support arguments for or against a hot topic can be difficult. Check here for recommended databases and web sites, plus targeted search strategies..

Keyword Search Tips

Many controversial topics assigned for papers are quite broad. A few examples:

  • human trafficking
  • gay rights
  • racial profiling

While you can use these terms in your searches, you will probably need to add some keywords to help narrow your topic:

  • human trafficking children
  • gay rights marriage

You may also want to use exact phrases to narrow your search, by enclosing the phrases inside quotation marks:

  • "racial profiling" "airport security"


Limiting a Search

Do you need Peer Reviewed or Scholarly sources only?

Look for an option to refine your search; it will usually be a checkbox or a facet you can select. 

Here's how it looks on a set of OneSearch article results: 

Use the "Peer Reviewed Journals" limiter.

Find Articles and More in OneSearch

CSUSB OneSearch offers a quick all-in-one search of the library's resources. Use OneSearch's options to focus your search on books, articles, streaming media, and much more. 

Pro vs. Con Keyword Search Tips

The words “pro” and “con” are usually not good keywords. Try one of these in combination with your topic keywords instead:

  • argument
  • assessment
  • case
  • contention
  • considerations
  • controversy
  • debate
  • dilemma
  • discussion
  • dispute
  • evidence
  • issues
  • opinion
  • promote
  • proof
  • question
  • reasons

Keywords that may help you find a "con" opinion:

  • disadvantage
  • drawback
  • negative
  • oppose
  • problem

Keywords that may help you find a "pro" opinion:

  • advantage
  • benefit
  • positive
  • support
  • solution