Current Issues - Hot Topics Step-by-Step Research Guide


This guide will help you get started in researching a topic that is in the news right now and may be controversial. An important thing to remember is while current events are interesting, there tends to be a time lag between events and scholarly documentation of them. Often newspapers and news magazines may be your only source. The following sources will not only help you find the latest news, but will also help with background essays, statistics, and bibliographies that point to additional sources for more in-depth coverage.

Background Information
News Summary Services
Historical Background Sources
Newspaper and Periodical Indexes
Selected Web Sites


Background Information

CQ Researcher
The CQ Researcher explores a single "hot" issue in the news in depth each week. Topics range from social and teen issues to environment, health, education, science, and technology. There are 44 reports produced each year including four expanded reports. Search the online version (1991 - present) or browse by topic and/or issue.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context (Gale)
"Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center is a one-stop source for information on today's hottest social issues. Drawing on acclaimed series published by Greenhaven Press and other Thomson Gale imprints, OVRC features viewpoint articles, topic overviews, full-text magazine and newspaper articles, primary source documents, statistics, images and podcasts, and links to Websites."

SIRS Government Reporter
1994+ Indexes the full-text of selected government documents from Federal departments, agencies, and commissions. Includes historic documents, government directories, Supreme Court decisions and some census data. Updated semi-annually.

SIRS Researcher
1989+ A general reference database indexing the full-text of articles from around 1500 domestic and international newspapers, magazines, journals, and U.S. Government publications. Articles cover social, scientific, health, historic, economic, business, political, and global issues.

Important Print Resources

At Issue - Soc Sci Ref H 1 .A 8x - Level 1
Each title focuses on a wide range of viewpoints for a single controversial issue and provides in-depth discussions by leading advocates of each perspective.

Contemporary World Issues - Soc Sci Ref H 1 .C65x - Level 1
Each volume discusses a specific topic, such as organized crime, homelessness, rape, the death penalty, and others. Most offer historical background information, biographical sketches of key figures, laws pertaining to the topic, statistics, and other resources, from pertinent organizations to references for additional reading.

Current Controversies - Soc Sci Ref H 1 .C87x - Level 1
This series examines important social, political, and economic debates presenting diverse opinions on many sides of each issue.

Reference Shelf - AC 5 .R44x - stacks, Level 5
These books contain "reprints of articles, excerpts from books, and addresses on current issues and social trends in the United States and other countries." A short but very useful bibliography completes each volume.

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News Summary Services

LexisNexis Academic -- News
A full-text database containing entire articles from newspapers, magazine and trade journals. You can search the headline, lead paragraph(s) and full-text of articles from hundreds of newswires.

CQ Weekly Online - Also available in print, latest two years in Soc Sci Ref (Level 1), earlier in the Periodicals Room, Level 2, JK 1 .C648x.
A database covering the United States Congress. This database provides accurate and detailed information on the activities of the US Congress. It provides detailed and non-partisan coverage and analysis of the status of bills in play, voting, behind-the-scenes maneuvering, committee and floor activity, debates and all roll-call votes. Archives are searchable by topic, page number, committee, "exact phrases or words," bill number, byline or reporter and by Boolean full-text and date searches. Resources are full-text. Detailed coverage is from 1983 to the present.

Facts on File - D 410 .F3 (1941-1997)- Level 1
A weekly news digest that summarizes reports from more than fifty magazines and newspapers from around the world. It has a detailed index that is updated twice each month.

Editorials on File - D 839 .E3 (1971-1997)- Level 1
A bimonthly compilation of full-text editorials and editorial cartoons, covering important national, international, and social issues, exactly as they appear in more than 150 U.S. and Canadian newspapers.

Keesing's World News Archive (last 20 years of events). 1963-1986 available in print D 410 .K4, Level 1.
This monthly source first summarizes the world news of the preceding weeks, then presents about thirty reports on specific current events. The service covers the globe, but tends to focus on affairs of concern to European nations.

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Historical Background Sources

News Digests:

  • Facts on File Yearbook 1941-1997 - D 410 .F3, Level 1. A weekly news digest that summarizes reports from more than fifty magazines and newspapers from around the world. It has a detailed index that is updated twice each month.
  • Keesing's World News Archive (last 20 years of events); 1963-1986 - D 410 .K4. Level 1. This monthly source first summarizes the world news of the preceding weeks, then presents about thirty reports on specific current events. The service covers the globe, but tends to focus on affairs of concern to European nations.
  • Editorials on File 1971-1997 - D 839 .E3, Level 1. A bimonthly compilation of full-text editorials and editorial cartoons, covering important national, international, and social issues, exactly as they appear in more than 150 U.S. and Canadian newspapers.
  • Canadian News Facts: the Indexed Digest of Canadian Current Events 1968-1997 - F 1001 .C26x, Level 1. A semi-monthly compilation summarizing and indexing developments in Canada, from several daily newspapers.
  • Encyclopedia Books of the Year

    The Americana Annual - Latest 3 years Information Commons Ref AE 5 .A55; earlier, Level 5 (1930-31,1941-45,1949-50,1953-74,1976-84,1986,1988-97,1999 - 2004)
    Britannica Book of the Year - Latest 3 years Information Commons Ref AE 5 .E364; earlier, Level 5 (1938-39, 1941-2003,2004)

    American History Series - Soc Sci Ref H 1 .A44x - Level 1
    This series offers opposing viewpoints on controversial issues in American History.

    Historic Documents - Soc Sci Ref E 839.5 .H57 - Level 1 (Latest year at Soc Sci Ref, earlier years in regular bookshelves, Level 1)
    This series provides convenient access to documents of basic importance in the broad range of public affairs. Each annual volume contains "official statements, Supreme Court decisions, reports, special studies, communiques, treaties and speeches related to events of national and international significance," preceded by introductions that explain the setting and importance of each.

    Information Please Almanac - Current year available at Information Commons Ref Desk AY 64 .I55, Level 3.
    An almanac of miscellaneous information with a general topical arrangement and a subject index. Provides extensive statistical and historical information on the United States, chronology of the year's events, statistical and historical descriptions of the various countries of the world, sports records, motion pictures, theatrical, and literary awards, etc., and many kinds of general information.

    World Almanac and Book of Facts - Current editions available through Academic Search Premier (EBSCO) and LexisNexis Academic -- World Almanac.
    Earlier years are available on Level 5 with the following call number: AY 67 .N5 W7
    An all-encompassing reference source with a subject and quick reference index. Provides background, current and statistical information on politics, employment, technology, entertainment, sports, health and nutrition and many other subjects.

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    Newspaper and Periodical Indexes

    New York Times Archive (1851-2006)
    The New York Times (1851-2004) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue.

    LexisNexis Academic
    A full-text database which provides full-text access to national & international news, business, legal, and reference information, including federal & state case law, company financials, state statistics, and accounting, auditing & tax information. The News category contains newspapers from 1970. Choose between the following sub-sets: Today's News, U.S. News, World News, Wires, Transcripts, Arts & Sports, Campus, Foreign Language News. You can search the headline, lead paragraph(s) and full-text of articles.

    Newspaper Source (EBSCO)
    A full text database for regional U.S. newspapers, international newspapers, newswires, newspaper columns as well as other sources. Also contains indexing and abstracting for national newspapers.

    ProQuest Research Library
    Indexes and abstracts articles in major American newspapers with many articles appearing in full-text. Table of contents by sources also available.

    Regional Business News (EBSCO)
    A full text international newswire database. Includes A & G Information, Africa News Service, Inter Press Service, Resources News International, South American Business, M2 Communications, PR Newswire, Business News Wire, Canadian Corporate News, News Bytes News Network, and Phillips Business Information Highlights. Updated daily.

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    Selected Web Sites

    BBC News
    In-depth coverage of the world's news, available in 33 languages, from the largest news broadcaster in the world.

    CNN
    Top stories and special features from CNN (Cable News Network).

    Documents in the News: Current Events Research
    Government and private sources on government related news headlines. Archives to 1995.

    NPR
    National Public Radio (NPR) "was created as a private, non-profit organization to provide leadership in national newsgathering and production and to provide the first permanent nationwide interconnection of non-commercial stations." Link to News, NPR Archives, and Programs, including "Talk of the Nation."

    PBS (Public Broadcasting Service)
    "PBS, headquarted in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private non-profit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations." Search the following areas: Arts & Drama, History, Home & Hobbies, Life & Culture, News & Views (Social Issues), Science & Nature.

    United States International Information Programs: Current Issues
    "State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) engages international audiences on issues of foreign policy, society and values to help create an environment receptive to U.S. national interests. IIP communicates with foreign opinion makers and other publics through a wide range of print and electronic outreach materials published in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Persian, Russian, and Spanish. IIP also provides information outreach support to U.S. embassies and consulates in more than 140 countries worldwide."

    Yahoo! News
    Index of current, late-breaking events. Updated daily.

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    Comments to: suzanne_julian@byu.edu