Thursday, December 01, 2005

Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center

Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center is the newest database in the Buley collection. Opposing Viewpoints started as an excellent series of books on controversial topics (abortion, alcohol use, drugs, pollution, domestic violence, etc.) Each book has a series of essays providing different views on the particular topic. Now the essays are available online.

You can search by general topic from the list on the main page, or do a keyword search. The results are organized by tabs, including the essays (Viewpoints), reference materials, images, statistics, magazine/newspaper articles, "primary documents", and websites. A suggested citation is given for each essay and the individual essays/articles can be linked to using the address bar URL of any page that includes the "i on a ball" icon. (See the Gale/Infotrac instructions on my Deeplinking Guide page.)

While you can't directly see all the entries in a particular book, there are suggested subject headings listed on the lefthand side of all results pages that will collect related articles. This is actually a little confusing because it mixes the Viewpoints essay subjects with the magazine/newspaper article subjects. I'd prefer to see a subject list with an indication of how many results exist for each entry, so it would be easier to pick out useful headings. You can limit your search in the Advanced Search form to just Viewpoints essays, or any other type of resource.

Opposing Viewpoints will probably be most useful for classes that involve writing position papers, or doing debate style presentations. The books have always been popular for English classes doing "hot topics" essays. The database will be excellent for students who are having trouble deciding on a topic. The Spotlight section highlights a new current topic about every two weeks. However, they also provide a good overview for any coursework covering one of the subjects, especially in social work, public health, criminal justice, environmental studies, and government policy. All essays contain lengthy reference lists that would make an excellent starting point for more advanced research.


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