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Mat-Su College: Writing

A guide for students taking Writing, particularly Writing 111, at Mat-Su College.


This page covers what makes a good topic for your paper, as well as different tools that list topics and collect valuable sources on those topics:

You can click the links to immediately access these sources. Read below for more information on how to use each one.

Opposing Viewpoints

Opposing Viewpoints is a database with a list of controversial subjects. Each subject has a single page that collects magazine articles, newspaper articles, journal articles, opinion pieces, and so on. It's a great tool for finding a topic and then learning about it.

Within Opposing Viewpoints you can access the list of topics by clicking "Browse Issues":

Screenshot of Opposing Viewpoints with Browse Issues link highlight

Click on any issue you're interested in:

Screenshot of Opposing Viewpoints's issues page

Each issue has a topic page that collects all sorts of material that you can use in a paper:

Screenshot of Opposing Viewpoints page for an issue

Starting with CQ Researcher

CQ Researcher provides comprehensive reports on many controversial or recent topics.

You can move around the CQ Researcher website by clicking "Browse Topics," then picking a topic from a list:

Screenshot of the Browse Topics button in CQ Researcher

Each topic link leads to a list of subtopics. Subtopic links lead to a list of reports. CQ Researcher has lots of stuff, but it is well organized!

You can also use the search box in the top right. The video tutorial below will teach you more about searching in CQ Researcher and about using its reports.

CQ Researcher video

This short (2 minutes, 29 seconds) video shows how to search in CQ Researcher and how a report is structured.

Points of View Reference Center

Points of View Reference Center is a database that covers controversial subjects currently in the news.

In Points of View Reference Center you will see a page with a search bar and a list of controversial subjects grouped by category. Just glancing at this list can help you pick a topic. For example, in the screenshot below I see "drilling in the Arctic" as a topic:

Screenshot of list of topics in Points of View Reference Center

If I want more information, I can click a topic's name.

Once I've clicked it, I get a nice overview of the subject (indicated by 1 in the screenshot below) as well as links to further sources of information (indicated by 2 in the screenshot below):

Screenshot of Points of View Reference Center content


Newsbank is a database that collects articles from thousands of newspapers. Newsbank has several features to help you pick a topic.

Within Newsbank, there are two handy tools for finding topics.

The Hot Topics section of Newsbank collects topics that are currently in the news. For each topic they provide a brief summary, possible research questions to answer in your paper, and suggested search terms. Access the Hot Topics section by entering Newsbank and clicking "Hot Topics" in the upper left:

Screenshot showing location of Hot Topics link in Newsbank

You should now see a list of topics and associated search terms:

Screenshot showing what Hot Topics page looks like in Newsbank

Another way to find topics is to use the "Find a Topic" link back at the Newsbank homepage:

Screenshot showing location of Find a Topic link in Newsbank

The Find a Topic page lists categories of topics:

Screenshot showing Find a Topics category page

Clicking any one of these topics will display subtopics, which will lead to find relevant newspaper articles:

Screenshot showing subcategories of business category in Newsbank's Find a Topic tool