Writing Assignment #2: Library Research Assignment
(Revised September 24, 2009)

On Wednesday, 30 September, class will meet in the Library's Multimedia Lab (Lower Level I), for a library instruction session with reference librarian Dot Thompson. Library work is an essential part of your research preparing for debates. One reason we are having a library visit now is to encourage you to start doing research on your debate topic. For the library visit to have value, you need to have begun collecting information on your topic so you have questions about how to search.

This assignment has two objectives:

1. For you and your team members to map out your topic so that you can identify sub-topics on both the pro and the con sides. This will guide your research and frame the division of labor on your debate team.

2. To learn how to use library data bases so that you can research your topic.

This assignment is one of your three, graded writing assignments for the semester.

Mapping Your Debate Argument

One of the key steps in developing an argument and being effective in your debate is to recognize that your topic, like each of them is comprised of sub-themes or topics.

The easy way to understand this is to recognize that most topics have a biological information aspect, a government policy and law aspect, a sociological aspect related to inequality or deviance or some other theme, and a philosophical or ethical aspect.

More complicated is to see that there usually are several issues or value positions that are in opposition to each other that are going to have to be covered when you present information to the class for your debate. Often these value positions or values provide stronger arguments for one side of the debate than the other. In breaking down the topic you want to recognize these themes, begin collecting data on the positions that support your position, and also begin thinking about arguments you can use to explain and defend the weaker parts of your position.

This overall picture of how you might breakdown your topic is called a map. Write a one page description of your map. You may draw pictures but you also should provide a narrative telling how to read your picture.

To see how debate topics were broken down in an earlier year, click on this link.

Library Research

Do the following and bring your paper to the Library Session. Be prepared to ask questions and to discuss your search strategy with your debate team.

1. Once you have your map of issues or topics, write down 1-3 terms that closely relate to the issue. These should be “subject” terms that you can type into electronic databases on the Library website.

2. Talk to other members of your debate and work with them to choose one subject area to research for this library assignment. You can change research topics and alter your team research strategy later.

3. Go onto the library website and choosing ONE subject term do the following:

    a. Search the electronic library catalog and try to get the names and call numbers of three books related to the subject.

    b. Open the Databases section of the library web site. Find the database called JSTOR and type in your subject term. Write down titles of three articles that you think are useful