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KAUST Advanced Academic Reading and Writing

Start Your Research

Choose a Controversy

Background Information

What to know about choosing a controversy

Choosing a topic is research. A lot of times, you choose topics that are...

  • Too broad (ex: tech industry in Texas)
  • Too specific or obscure (i.e. something for which there is little written, such as, "is mixed martial arts an art form?")
  • Have a markedly unpopular opposing viewpoint not conducive to argument-based research (i.e., there is a lot written about why dog fighting is bad, but nothing written about why it is ok)

It's not a good idea to choose a topic 'out of the blue' - you can start broad in research inquiries and learn about what people are arguing about. Read encyclopedia or news articles and to ask yourself: 

  • What are issues related to my broad issue? (ex. tech industry in Texas - jobs and income - gentrification)
  • Who cares about my topic? Who are the stakeholders?
  • What are the stakeholders arguing about? Why do they care? Why are they invested in this issue?

As you delve deeper into the topics, you can use background information to identify:

  • important events, dates, laws or legislation or court cases in the topics
  • bibliographies and works cited - students often don't know to 'follow the conversation'

Important: Early intervention with unresearchable or problematic topics is essential. A frustrated researcher begins to resent the process. Come to the library or to the library chat service at the earliest stages to get research help.



This may be the first time you have ever used a library database and it is important to know that you can access these databases from your dorm or from home with your EIDs. 

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