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BRN English Resources: Finding Pro/Con Arguments

Tips for Finding Pro/Con Arguments

Search Tips from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:

  • Avoid using the terms pro and con in your search, unless the issue frequently uses pro- or con- to identify supporters of the position (i.e. pro-life or pro-choice).
  • Read the abstracts, when available, as these will provide you with a brief summary of the writer's viewpoint.
  • Finding resources that support a given position might require a familiarity with the discourse surrounding the issue.
  • As you become more familiar with the arguments for both sides, reconsider your search terms and keywords.
  • Remember that pro/con stakeholders may be arguing or emphasizing very different points.
  • An article that supports one side of an issue might contain valuable information about the other; don't rule out an article simply because it's not written from "your side".


Finding Arguments in Scholarly Articles

If you need to find argumentative scholarly sources, here are a few things to remember:

  • Scholarly sources may not present an "argument" in the traditional sense. Many scholarly articles examine an idea or question from all sides, and then come to some sort of conclusion about that idea, so the argument may be subtle.
  • Ask yourself: What point is the article trying to make?  Read the conclusion of the article and look for statements that make recommendations or conclusions about the topic.
  • Could someone potentially take a different position than the conclusions presented in the article?  If so, then the article could be considered argumentative.