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SPCE 619: Finding Research Literature for Online Ethical Debate Research Project

Advice for which databases to use and search techniques to employ for finding information to use in your ethical debate.

Constructing and revising database searches: An example

‚ÄčTry using the CHOP, DROP, and OR method for constructing your search.  It allows you to cast your net wide, so you bring up literature which might be related to your topic -- closely or tangentially -- so that you can consider it.

Here is an example of how that might work:

If my topic is "What are the ethical considerations involved with having care provided for the child with autism in an interdisciplinary manner?"

  • I'd first chop my topic up into these three areas:
    • ethics
    • autism
    • interdisciplinary
  • Then I'd drop each into a search box, like this:

  • And then I'd use or between synonyms and related words.  It's also helpful to think of word variants, like ethics and ethical. So my search would look like this:

  • I could improve my results further by looking at the records of articles I pull up which seem on-topic, such as this one:

  • The highlighted terms above can be worked into a revised search like this, putting related terms in the same box with OR in between:

  • Looking at my results, I may determine that I need to remove some of my search terms or add in others.  This can take some time.  Bear in mind that you're unlikely to come up with a list of records where every single title is useful.  Also, unlike in Google searching, the articles that work for you may not be on the first page of results.  Be willing to dig down!