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As one of the traditional rhetorical modes – along with narration, description, exposition, etc. – argument, or persuasion, has long been a staple in the curricula of speech and English at the secondary and higher education levels. Students are given an assignment in which they must select an issue or topic and argue in support of or opposition to it, marshaling evidence to support their position. While it has always been possible for students to locate evidence through standard searches in library catalogs for books and print periodical indexes for magazine and journal articles, such searches can be unwieldy. Some publishers saw this as an opportunity to serve what they perceived as a specific market demographic, and created book series designed to offer pro and con viewpoints on various social issues or “controversial” topics. Among these are H.W. Wilson’s The Reference Shelf, which dates as far back as 1924, and Greenhaven Press’s Opposing Viewpoints series. Reference Shelf titles select articles from respected publications while offering abstracts of twenty to thirty additional articles and a bibliography of other sources. Opposing Viewpoints follows the same pattern of offering articles culled from reputable sources which cover a topic from various points of view in a pro/con format.

Gale Group, not yet Gale/Cengage Learning, introduced Opposing Viewpoints (OV) in digital format as the Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center (OVRC) database, which in mid-2010 was “enhanced” and renamed Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Between Gale’s introduction of Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center and its repackaging as Opposing Viewpoints in Context, EBSCOhost rolled out its Points of View Reference Center database. While there is a common purpose shared by the two databases, because of their proprietary nature duplication of content is minimal, and each database possesses unique strengths and weaknesses.

Publication/Presentation Information

Nuttall, Harry D. “What’s to Argue? A Comparison of Opposing Viewpoints in Context to the updated Points of View Reference Center, with a nod to the original Points of View Reference Center.” Reference Reviews 30/3 (2016): 1-7.



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