Library A to Z    
On this page

Delores Carlito
Reference Librarian for Instruction and Outreach

Phone (205) 934-6364

Printer-friendly version

Contemporary Controversial Issues

Contemporary controversial issues are current, arguable topics. Subjects such as abortion, prayer in school, and gambling are examples of contemporary controversial issues.

When writing a paper on one of these issues, you must examine both sides in order to write a well-informed argument. The reference tools listed below will help you locate background information, overviews, pros and cons, and statistics.

Books preceded by REF can be found in the Reference Collection. All circulating books are on the third floor. Off-campus use of electronic books and databases are restricted to UAB students, faculty, and staff.


Background material on subjects can be found in encyclopedias and other reference books.

Beginning of page.


These books provide both sides of an issue. They are published as a series. To view the titles in those series, use the links below.

Beginning of page.


Your argument may need statistics for emphasis. You can use these tools to find data for your paper.

    Beginning of page.


    • American Demographics
      Per HB3505 .A66
      Academic Search Premier (1992-present)
      American Demographics is a monthly magazine for marketing and media that provides detailed data about spending, growth, and demographics in consumer markets.
    • Public Opinion Quarterly
      Electronic Subscription (1937 - current)
      Public Opinion Quarterly is an interdisciplinary, academic journal that examines the development and role of public opinion.
    Beginning of page.


    Articles about contemporary controversial issues can be found in the following databases.

    Examples of searches that can be used in each of these databases are:

    • abortion AND attitudes
    • abortion AND public opinion
    • abortion AND statistics
    • abortion AND opinions
    Remember that Journals, magazines, and newspapers are not always unbiased; often, they promote a particular point of view. For a list of periodicals and their bias, see below:

    "Consider the Source": A Resource Guide to Liberal, Conservative, and Nonpartisan Periodicals from City College of Chicago

    A Selective List of Liberal and Conservative Periodicals from Clark College

    Point of View from Lakeland Community College

    Wikipedia List of Political Magazines
    Beginning of page.


    The following Web pages contain information on controversial issues. Sometimes both sides are presented and sometimes only one is emphasized.

    • Public Agenda Online
      Public Agenda, a nonpartisan and nonprofit organizaiton, analyzes public opinion toward issues and policy. Founded in 1975 and based in New York City, its purpose is to educate leaders and citizens.
    • Room for Debate
      Part of the New York Times online, Room for Debate is a section where "knowledgeable outside contributors ... discuss news events and other timely issues." Topics range from the personal ("Are Family Vacations Worth It?") to the international ("Has Globalization Ruined Street Style?" and "Why Did It Take So Long to Find Bin Laden?")
    • White House Agenda
      White House Agenda examines the President's policies and initiatives in detail. Reports what the administration believes and links to primary documents, such as speeches.
    Beginning of page.


    The following sites provide transcripts of television news shows. Search the transcripts by subject.

    This database also contains news transcripts:
    Beginning of page.


    Sterne Library has some research guides that you might find helpful when writing a paper on contemporary controversial issues.
    Beginning of page.

    Delores Carlito, Reference Librarian for Instruction and Outreach
    Updated 6/13; Created 8/02