Answered By: Colin Magee
Last Updated: Aug 10, 2022     Views: 7

Opposing Viewpoints In Context

Today you are going to search for some articles using the library's Gale In Context Opposing Viewpoints database. You'll get some practice using this database to find information, and to think about the information that you find - whether or not the information is good at supporting your ideas.


Madisonville Community College website with "Quick links" menu highlighted with "Current Students" selected.

To access Gale In Context Opposing Viewpoints, go to the library's website, either through MyPath, or from the college website:  Then select "Current Students" under "Quick Links" from the top.

Current Students page of the MCC website, showing the tile for "Library" highlighted.

Scroll down to "Library." 


MCC Library's website with the tile for "Research Databases" highlighted.

And now that you are at the library's website, go down to "Research databases."


Research Databases page of the Library's website, with the Gale In Context Opposing Viewpoints tile highlighted

And then look for "Gale In Context Opposing Viewpoints" on the second row. Log in with your KCTCS username and password if prompted to do so.


Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints landing page

Gale Opposing Viewpoints is an easy-to-use database that shows you information about key issues. It's a great database for English 101 because you can find information on a lot of topics that you can write about for the cause or effect paper, or the position paper. These are two of the assignments in English 101 that instructors typically assign, and require students to cite library resources in their work.


Viewpoint articles are argumentative in nature

Articles that you find in Opposing Viewpoints can come from published newspapers, magazines, or scholarly journals.  But you will find featured viewpoint articles on many topics. These viewpoint articles show you the pros and cons, the causes or the effects, or an argument for or against a certain issue.


Let's pick a topic

Today what we'll do is we'll pick a topic and see what we can find on that topic.


The book Thirst by Scott Harrsion

The topic we'll use today is "water."  Depending on your instructor, you might be reading the book Thirst by Scott Harrison as part of your course.  The main issue in the book Thirst is the shortage of drinking water in developing countries. Today you're going to find some information on that topic in just a little bit.  Just to demonstrate how this database works, I'm going to focus on water issues closer to home here in the United States.


Browse issues

Browse issues in Opposing Viewpoints

Before you search in Opposing Viewpoints, you might want to check out the "Browse Issues" list here, on the right. 


Selecting the issue "Water Pollution" from the Browse Issues page

This is a list of over 200 different issues ranging from Adoption to Women's rights.  "Water shortage" is not one of the issues on this page, but "water pollution" is, so we'll take a look.

An issues page comes with a topic overview at the top of the page

These topic pages are pre-loaded with chosen articles. At the top is an overview page, giving you a definition of the problem or the issue, followed by different articles, broken down by source type. 


Different publication types are grouped together on the issues page, including news articles under "newspapers" and scholarly information under "academic journals"

So for example, all of the newspaper articles are going to be grouped together under "news."  And all of the scientific studies are going to be grouped together under "Academic journals." 


"Featured viewpoints" and "Viewpoints" are argumentative articles located at the top of the issues page results

Viewpoint articles, which again are argumentative and usually pretty good for supporting the ideas in your writing, are at the top, under "Featured viewpoints" and "Viewpoints."  Notice that your results page here shows you the top 3 of each source type, and you can access more of that source type by clicking above the box.



In most cases, you'll need to do a search to find something more specific or closely related to the topic you're writing about. 


Searching using the word "water" in the search box

Typing in the word "water" is going to give you way too many results.  You're going to find info on water pollution, water shortages, and maybe just information about water itself in a non-controversial way.  We call that a search that is "too broad."


Searching using the terms "water crisis" in the search box

Instead, I'm going to type in "water crisis" and that should narrow in on some of the controversies about water. 


Searching "Water issues in Madisonville" turns up no results.

You can narrow your topic even more and focus on something very specific. Just be careful not to get too specific, as then your search is "too narrow."  "Water issues in Madisonville," for example, doesn't give you any results, because this database doesn't cover a lot of local news.


Search results for "Flint Water Crisis" in the search box

A more specific issue about water that happened in the United States that got a lot of news coverage was the "Flint water crisis" a few years ago.  The Flint water crisis happened a few years ago in the city of Flint, Michigan, where they had contaminated water, and the government was slow to respond to the issue. So let's see if we can find an article that discusses some of the causes of the Flint water crisis.


Search results




Searching "Flint Water Crisis" in the search box, the viewpoint articles are highlighted.

Search results are broken down by source type, again, with the top 3 of each source type shown.  The viewpoint articles that they're showing talk a little bit more about the controversy.  The first one talks about whether systemic racism was a cause of the Flint water crisis, since Flint has a large African American population.  The second and third ones talk about how the government failed to respond, or if they responded inappropriately. 


Search results for "Flint water crisis" with a Reference article highlighted.

If we go down to this article here under "reference," it will give us the background to the problem. Let's take a look at this article.


The article "Flint Water Crisis" shows what the cause of the crisis was

So if we read this section here, "Background and origins of the water crisis," you'll read that switching the water supply from being pumped from Detroit to being supplied from the heavily-polluted Flint River is what caused the water to become contaminated.

So that was the cause. But what led to that decision? 


On the search results page, the viewpoint article "A Functioning Government Could Have Prevented the Flint Crisis" is highlighted

If we go back and look at some of the viewpoint articles, we might be able to get a more detailed look at the political situation that led to that decision. 


The article "A Functioning Government Could Have Prevented the Flint Crisis"

Let's take a look at this article: "A Functioning Government Could Have Prevented the Flint Crisis."


Reasons why the Flint water crisis occurred are highlighted

This article lists several mistakes that were made which led to the crisis.  1: They switched the water supply to save money while coming up with a long-term solution. 2: The Environmental Protection Agency failed to do its job.  3: The governor of Michigan made some moves that allowed this crisis to unfold.  4: Flint was already a rundown city and this type of crisis would be less likely to happen in a city that was prospering. And 5: nobody listened to the people.  You could also research the effects of this crisis.  How many people died from this crisis?  How many people became sick because of the contaminated water?  What did the government do to respond to this?  And what were some of the lawsuits that are still ongoing to this day that happened because of this crisis?

So the goal ultimately is to find information that is supporting your ideas.  If you're doing a paper on the causes of the Flint crisis, these two articles were perfect.  If you're doing a paper on the effects of the Flint crisis, you'd have to find information that focuses more on the effects.  You could do a position paper on this topic that argues that the government didn't do enough to prevent the problem and may have even caused the problem.


MLA Citations

One last thing you'll need to pay attention to is finding your MLA citation for your article.  An MLA citation lists the information about the article: the title, the author, the publication, when it was published, etc.  This MLA citation goes in your Works Cited page, which is at the end of your paper. 


Click on "Cite" at the top right side of the screen to access an MLA citaiton

In Opposing Viewpoints, you can click "Cite" at the top right.  A box will pop up showing you an MLA citation - 9th edition, by default.


The article's MLA citation is shown

It shows the author -- with their last name first.  The title of the article in quotation marks.  The source it was published in, in italics.  In this case it was published in a book of essays called Gale Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection.  The publisher was Gale.  2022 was the year.  This is the database we used to access it: Gale In Context Opposing Viewpoints. And this is the url for this article.  And the date we accessed it goes next.  And that's really all you need. Sometimes it gives you a little bit of extra information. But you don't really need to to include that. You will need to pay attention to capitalization and punctuation.  But for the most part, you're going to want to copy and paste this into your Works Cited page in order to show your instructor where this source came from.

So Opposing Viewpoints is a pretty easy database to use.  You'll want to use it when looking up information on important and controversial issues.  You have the "Browse Issues" list, which preloads articles on that topic, or you can search using the search box.  Again, you might need to try different search terms depending on if your search results are too broad or too narrow.  Search results are broken down into different source types, which makes it easier to find the information you need.

Your turn

Now it's going to be your turn.  I showed you how to find information about one aspect of the water crisis, specifically the water pollution in Flint, Michigan.  Now, you're going to be asked to find information about water shortages.  Once you complete this assignment, you'll have an opportunity to learn more about some of the library's other databases.

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