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Argument and research: Pro and con

A guide for researching argument writing and speech assignments

Finding both sides

Sometimes it is difficult to find both sides of an argument. Here are some tips to use when you are searching databases. Try adding (usually one at a time, or separated by "OR") the words or phrases listed below. Some will be more useful than others depending on your topic. Try to imagine how authors might discuss the concept you are researching.

Pro Con
proponents opposed OR opponents OR opposition
advocates critics OR criticism
support OR supporters resistance OR resistors
defenders enemies
sponsors  damage OR costs OR burden
positive OR "positive effects" negative OR "negative effects"
benefits dangers

Also consider using these more neutral phrases that may lead you to pro/con arguments:

  • "moral aspects"
  • "ethical aspects"
  • "psychological aspects" or "psychological effects"
  • "sociological aspects" or "sociological effects"


Search example using pro/con keywords in a library database:

Here's an example of a search you might use in ProQuest if you were having trouble finding articles opposed to beauty contests:

Screenshot of "con" keywords in database search

Liberal vs. conservative sources

Here are a few magazines (all available through our periodical databases) and think tanks that consistently promote traditional conservative or liberal views.

"Liberal" magazines:

"Conservative" magazines:

"Liberal" think tanks:

"Conservative" think tanks:

Need more sources along the liberal/conservative spectrum? See below:

Pro & con in CQ Researcher

Reports in the CQ Researcher database include a pro/con section. Two authors will debate one small question related to the larger topic.

Sample "Pro/Con" section in a CQ Research report:

Pro/con section in CQ Researcher report

Search the CQ Researcher database:

Opposing Viewpoints series of books

The Library has many of the books in a series called Opposing Viewpoints. A larger issue (such as Censorship) is broken down into questions ("Should the right to free speech be restricted"?) with authors writing on both sides of each question. Ask a librarian or use the library catalog (see image below) to find these.

Explore all the Opposing Viewpoints series available in the TCC Library:

Sample titles in the Opposing Viewpoints series:

Useful websites for controversial topics

Here are some web sites that might help with controversial issues:

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