This guide is meant to accompany the SPCE 619 Online Ethical Debate Research Project.
Knowing the research relevant to the topic your group has chosen is vital to the success of your debate.
While searching the Internet may prove somewhat useful to you, you'll be better served using library databases to find reliable, authoritative research in your field. As a Ball State student, you are entitled to use the University Libraries, whether in the building or from afar. This guide should give you some tools you can use for finding the research you need.
For starters, please remember that doing library research can take a long time. Allow yourself a big chunk of time, so that you can find the resources you need. And remember that some documents may need to be requested from other libraries (through Interlibrary Loan), which takes several days.
Additionally, bear in mind that research is an iterative process, requiring you to continually search, evaluate and revise. As you search and read what you've found, you're able to improve your searches using terms and ideas you've found in your results.
When you're doing academic research, start on the Ball State University Libraries' homepage. Then look for the Databases link. Use the options under the "Subjects" drop-down menu to explore the available resources.
There are two principle research databases in the field of applied behavior analysis: ERIC (under the Education category) and PsycINFO (under the Psychology category). Try both of them, but depending on your topic, you may find that one is more helpful than the other.
While you can use the same general search techniques in both databases, be alert for differences in terms used.
The words you use as your search terms have a big effect on the relevance of the results that you get. So choose carefully!
In many databases, as you type "ethics OR" into a search box, you will see numerous suggestions including related words such as morals, values. The longer the list of words with OR in between, the more records you can potentially retrieve.
You don't have to choose what is suggested, but at the very least use ethics or ethical to search for both forms of the word.
Unlike Google and OneSearch, library research databases like ERIC and PsycINFO assign subject headings to each record, indicating the focus of the article.
When you're trying to come up with good terms to search on, THIS is the place to look!
When searching in a database, put quotes around phrases of two or more words where it's important to keep the words together. Then your words will be searched as a unit; it prevents the database from searching for the words individually.
So, when searching on a topic this can be important:
It's also helpful when searching for a title -- of a governmental act, an organization, an article, etc.
What if I find a ton using these techniques?
What if I need to find more articles?