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English I-II: "TED" Talks [10th]

General information for English I and II classes (including Honors), as well as specific research pages for projects or topics

REMINDER: Passwords for Databases are on your Utility Period page on CANVAS

PASSWORDS for using Databases from Home... 

...are in a Google Doc Click Here for Library Database Passwords. You will need to be logged in to your CCHS email/google account to access the passwords.

NOTE: Some Passwords have changed since last year.

GALE Databases for Argumentation

Opposing Viewpoints and Global Issues 

Key Features:

  • Collections of Materials Grouped by Issue. Each "Issue" has a very good "Background" article for information about that issue (see "Tips for Researching for Debate, #1).
  • "Viewpoint Essays" are examples of specific positions on different controversial topics . They come from published "Opposing Viewpoint" books, and often contain material reprinted from other articles. They are excellent places to get ideas for your arguments.  
  • Gale Databases also have content from a variety of other sources like Magazines, Newspapers, Journals, etc.  The information is credible, but you still need to check for bias, and understand the source of the information.

EBSCO Databases for Argumentation

EBSCO Points of View Reference

Search for a Topic using the Search Box, or Click Here to Browse for an Issue.

The "Hulu" to Opposing Viewpoints' "Netflix",  EBSCO Points of View Reference Center also provides Overviews and Point/Counterpoint essays  (from the Points of View series) in addition to curated articles from magazines, newspapers, journals, and more.

  • Overview articles are great for background and definitions (see Tips for Better Debate Research #1 and #2 on this page)
  • On a topic page, the menu on the right side offers "Point & Counterpoint" articles, as well as a very helpful general guide to critical analysis of sources and advice on how to form a debate.

SIRS Databases for Argumentation

SIRS Issues Researcher Logo

Another option you should be familiar with from your 9th-grade Service paper.  SIRS operates similarly to Opposing Viewpoints and Points of View Reference Center.

  • On a SIRS has  "Leading Issues" pages that contain articles on the topic, as well as sub-topics for that issue. For example the "Leading Issue" of Gun Control has sub-topics including "Second Amendment and the Right to Bear Arms" and "Concealed Weapons"
  • Each sub-topic page has an "Essential Question"  (i.e. a Debate Topic) with three "Pro" articles and "Con" articles, in addition to the standard articles from magazines, journals, newspapers, and other sources.

A Note on Biased Sources

A Note or Two on "Bias" 

It's okay to use a "Biased" source (i.e. a source that has an opinion / position / side on your topic) as long as you are aware that the source is biased , recognize how that bias will affect the quality of the information presented, and are prepared to defend it.  However, "biased" sources can be easier for your opponents to attack, though just being "biased" doesn't automatically make something wrong.

This is the short version. For more detail see the Debate Tips Page.

MLA: A Tale of Two Citations

One bonus of Library databases is that they offer preformatted citations in MLA 8th edition format (and other formats).

These Pre-formatted citations are meant to be used as a guide, as they are rarely perfect, and are not meant to replace the need to understand how to read and create citations.  

Here is an example of a preformatted "MLA 8th Edition"  citation for an article from SIRS Issues Researcher:

Sergeant, Harriet. "Does Aid Help? Or does it Harm?" The Spectator (London), 17 Feb 2018. sirsissuesresearcher,


Here's a Citation for the same article from GALE Opposing Viewpoints:

Sergeant, Harriet. "Does aid help? The evidence suggests it may do more harm than good." Spectator, vol. 336, no. 9886, 17 Feb. 2018, p. 12+. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, Accessed 6 Mar. 2020.


Both citations are "Pretty Good" citations, but neither one is totally correct

 Let's take a look.  RED will mean things that are wrong, YELLOW will be things that we may consider changing, and GREEN are things that one database's citation has that the other one is missing.

The SIRS citation:

Sergeant, Harriet. "Does Aid Help? Or does it Harm?" The Spectator (London), 17 Feb 2018. sirsissuesresearcher,

Note that this resource on SIRS changes the title of the Article, because the database is treating it as a reprint.

The GALE citation:

Sergeant, Harriet. "Does aid help? The evidence suggests it may do more harm than good." Spectator, vol. 336, no. 9886, 17 Feb. 2018, p. 12+. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, Accessed 6 Mar. 2020.

  • The First Letters  of almost all words in titles are capitalized (with the exception of articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions and "to" with infinitives).
    • NOTE: many pre-formatted citations don't automatically get the correct capitalization of titles. It's will be your job to check.
  • The abbreviations  of months like "Feb" should have a period.
  • The "https://" in a URL (web address) is no longer included.
  • The source title for a Newspaper only needs to include the name of the city if it is relevant.
  • The name of the SIRS database  (the second "container") would be better if written out as SIRS Issues Researcher.
  • the URL is generally not supposed to be an active hyperlink, not supposed to be blue, and not supposed to be underlined.
    •  Also, the URL  is generally supposed to be a more direct URL to the article, not just the site. 
  • The GALE citation has more information that make the Citation more useful
    • it has the Volume and Number information for the original newspaper issue, as well as the Page Number of the original Article.
    • it has a Date of Access that tells your reader/teacher when you looked a digital source. This is only required for digital sources.

Here's  Improved Versions of the Citation.

Sergeant, Harriet. "Does Aid Help? Or Does It Harm?" The Spectator (London), 17 Feb. 2018. SIRS Issues Researcher, Accessed 6 Mar. 2020.

Sergeant, Harriet. "Does Aid help? The Evidence Suggests It May Do More Harm than Good." Spectator, vol. 336, no. 9886, 17 Feb. 2018, p. 12+. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, Accessed 6 Mar. 2020.

Argumentative/Persuasive Research Strategies

5 Tips for Better Argumentation Research:

This is the short version. For more detail see this Debate Tips Page which is also broadly applicable to general argumentative pieces.

  1. Start by researching about the Topic (not the position you are taking).
    1. Before you can argue or persuade, you must inform (and be informed)
  2. Define the Key Terms Clearly
    1. Not everyone has the same understanding of what certain words mean. Be clear what you mean.
  3. Source Credibility and Authority matter:  research about your sources. 
  4. Use the WHOLE Article.
    1. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Including its Bibliography/Works Cited (if it has one), and all of the text -- don't just cherry pick paragraphs.
  5. Research Many Positions on the topic (not just your own):  
    1. Be knowlegeable about the positions of those people you may be trying to sway or convince. 
    2. Combat Confirmation Bias (i.e. only looking for information that confirms your side, and putting more trust in things that agree with you).

Some Reminders


When you are presenting information to others, it's important that you have properly and critically evaluated your sources.  Better sources make your position stronger.  Check HERE for some tips on the questions you should be able to answer about your sources.

Argument vs Persuasion

Argumentative Presentations succeed by using factually true evidence and logical reasoning (premises) in support to prove a statement (claim) to be true or superior to other claims. Unfortunately, providing strong evidence and reasoning to support a claim is not always enough to sway someone's opinions or beliefs.

Persuasive presentations succeeds by using any means available (no requirement for Sound Arguments)  to shift how someone thinks, acts, or feels in the direction you want. One can (and should) use sound (logically valid and based on factually true evidence) Argument in service of Persuasion, but you can persuade with bad arguments (and it happens often).  Logical Fallacies, which appeal to Cognitive Biases, can be very Persuasive.

Can you think of any examples of bad Arguments  that have nonetheless been Persuasive?

Is it ethical to succeed at Persuasion while using unsound arguments?


Logical Fallacies

Logical Fallacies

Logical Fallacies are things that "break" a logical argument and make it "invalid".

Pointing out Logical Fallacies in opposing arguments can be part of a strategy in refuting them

Note, however, that just because an argument is fallacious, it doesn't mean that the claim/conclusion is False. Instead it means that the argument is invalid and cannot be used to "prove" the claim.  Claiming otherwise is called the "Fallacy Fallacy"

ex.  The Reason Fortnite is a very popular game (claim), is because millions of people like it (premise/support). 

Is an example of  the Fallacy of "Begging the Question."  (you can't use the claim as support for itself, and "popular" means "lots of people like it").    The flawed argument doesn't mean that Fortnite isn't popular, just that your argument hasn't 'proved' it is.

Some 'persuaders' intentionally use logical fallacies in their arguments to make their claims seem to be true or more appealing, or in their Refutations and Rebuttals.  This might work for "Persuasion", but it's not okay as an "Argument".

ex. "Whataboutism"  

Learn More about Logical Fallacies

Cognitive Biases & Heuristics

Cognitive Biases & Heuristics

One of the reasons people can be easily Persuaded by fallacious Arguments has to do with the workings of the brain. This is a complex topic in Psychology. 

Here are simple definitions provided by Psychology Today

"Bias" in this case doesn't mean "Racial Bias," which might be what first comes to mind when you hear that word,  but rather it is "... a tendency, inclination, or prejudice toward or against something or someone."

"A Heuristic is a mental shortcut that allows an individual to make a decision, pass judgment, or solve a problem quickly and with minimal mental effort. While heuristics can reduce the burden of decision-making and free up limited cognitive resources, they can also be costly when they lead individuals to miss critical information or act on unjust biases."

Congnitve Biases aren't fallacies, but can make people susceptible to believing fallacies or affect ones ability to see fallacies.  For this reason, it is useful to know about them.  See also this explanation from the Logically Fallacious website.


Learn More about Cognitive Biases