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Celebrating the Life
Finding and Evaluating Opinion
Find more articles using these databases. 

Sample article 

Remember to think about the following when evaluating your opinion piece:

  • Author: Who is the author? A journalist or a researcher reporting facts? Or someone from an organization, a columnist or an expert who is representing a side of the controversy?  If there is no information on the author in the article, try searching in Google for more on that person. If the name is common one, use a keyword from the topic (ex. Susan Jones and National School Lunch Program)
  • Taking a side: Does the author present both sides of the controversy or just one? If just one side, is the article advocating that side, or simply reporting about it?  Is this author representative of that side? What gives them the authority to represent that side? (ex: is it the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture? A small farm owner? A reporter for a student newspaper?)
  • Language: Does the author use language that indicates one side of a viewpoint? (ex. - anti-lunch program reform = affordable lunch program; pro-lunch program reform = sustainable lunch program)
  • Section: What section of the newspaper or magazine does the article come from? Viewpoints don't usually appear in a regular news section. If it is from the opinion/editorial section, or if it is labeled as a ‘column’ or ‘editorial’ it is likely to be a viewpoint.
  • Source bias: Does the news source generally lean to a particular side of controversies (examples: liberal vs. conservative; free market economics vs. government regulated economy)?  For a sample list of liberal and conservative magazines, see the Find Opinions, Editorials and Opposing Viewpoints page.
Find Background Information
If you're not very familiar with the topic you're writing on, look up some basic background information to give you an overview and help you identify keywords for searching. 

Brainstorm Keywords
Because library article databases have to be searched differently than Google, it's best to start by brainstorming keywords. Choose keywords which represent the main concepts of your paper topic. Then for each concept, choose a number of keywords, including synonyms and related terms.

Here's an example to get you started:

Then combine them using AND and OR
  • AND narrows your search by looking for articles with all of the words
  • OR broadens your search by looking for articles with any of the word
**Brainstorm or add to your own keywords using our keyword brainstorming tool**
Find Articles Using Databases
How to Choose a Library Database:

Multi-disciplinary vs. Subject Databases

Some databases are multi-disciplinary and contain articles from across disciplines. Others only cover material from a specific discipline or subject, such as philosophy or art.
Find a list of all databases at www.lib.utexas.edu/indexes. Click on the About link next to a database name to learn about what it contains.

Popular vs. Scholarly Sources

Articles in scholarly, peer-reviewed sources are written by scholars and researchers for an audience of their peers - other scholars and researchers in their field of study. Before an article appears in a scholarly, peer-reviewed publication, an editorial board made up of other scholars and researchers reviews it. This is the peer-review process.  Articles in non-scholarly sources (such as popular newspapers and magazines) are written for the general reader.  See the Popular vs. Scholarly Guide for more info.

Recommended Databases for This Course:



Video Tutorial: How to Find Articles

Where is the Article?
If an article is not full-text in the database you are searching, you have two options:

1)Follow  to see if it is available in another database or in print in the library.
2)      Search for the title of the journal (not the title of the article) in the Library Catalog or the
Find a Journal page to see if it is available electronically or in print.
Find Books and Book Chapters
Library Catalog
Find electronic books and books found in all of the University of Texas Libraries.
  • To find a book on your topic, start with a keyword search.
  • When you find a good title, follow the subject headings for more books on the topic.
  •  To locate the book, make sure you write down the entire call number, including the library that owns it.
  • Learn more in our Find Books tutorial.

Google Books
Search the full text of books provided by publishers and libraries.  Find relevant book chapters and passages.
  • The full text will be viewable if the book is out of copyright. Books still under copyright may provide a preview of a limited number of pages or just a snippet.
  • When you find a good title, use the “Find this book in a library” feature to see if UT owns it or search for the title in the Library Catalog. (Some books don't include the "Find this book in a library" feature.)  

Video Tutorial: How to Find Books
Evaluation Exercise
Are these representative viewpoints that would help you map this controversy?  Why or why not?  
  • Discuss the evaluation criteria in your group and note your thoughts in the worksheet.  
  • Choose a group member to report out to the class on your evaluation.

Group 1

Article pdf
Evaluation Worksheet - 12 p.m.
Evaluation Worksheet - 1 p.m.
Evaluation Worksheet - 2 p.m.

Group 2
Article pdf
Evaluation Worksheet - 12 p.m.
Evaluation Worksheet - 1 p.m.
Evaluation Worksheet - 2 p.m.

Group 3
Article pdf
Evaluation Worksheet - 12 p.m.
Evaluation Worksheet - 1 p.m.
Evaluation Worksheet - 2 p.m.

Group 4
Article pdf
Evaluation Worksheet - 12 p.m.
Evaluation Worksheet - 1 p.m.
Evaluation Worksheet - 2 p.m.
Get Help
Contact the course librarians:

Krystal Wyatt-Baxter

Chat with a Librarian
Monday-Thursday, 10am - midnight
Friday, 10am - 4pm
Sunday, 6pm - midnight

PCL Information and Research Help Desk

UGS Drop-in Research/Writing Labs: Get research help from Library Staff and writing help from Writing Center consultants.  Just drop by PCL 1.339 in the basement of PCL during the following time:
  • Tuesday, April 8, 7-9 pm
Evaluate Books, Articles and Websites
Evaluate Books and Articles - this decision tree helps you evaluate  books and articles.

Evaluate Web Sites - this grid helps you evaluate websites
Find Statistics
Find Legislation and Government Information
  • THOMAS: Legislative information from the Library of Congress at www.thomas.gov.
  • Proquest Congressional: Find Congressional publications (1789-present), including Hearings, Committee Prints, Reports, Documents and Congressional Research Service Reports (CRS Reports).