BTAC 100: Fundamentals of Computers

Research on Ethical Issues in Business Technology

Strategize your Search Terms

Develop Keywords 

To find relevant, useful sources for your project, the first step is to identify key words that capture what you want to learn about. 

Big picture: 
  1. Start with the obvious: your topic AND ethics
  2. Brainstorm other relevant words that capture the relationship between your technology/ computer topic and the ethical issues connected to it. 
Sample 1: 
  • blogging AND ethics
  • blogs AND responsibility
  • blogs AND accountability
  • blogs AND anonymity
Sample 2: 
  • copyright AND internet AND ethics
  • copyright AND online sources AND intellectual property
  • copyright AND internet AND intellectual theft
  • copyright AND fair use
Sample 3:
  • spam AND ethics
  • (e-commerce OR marketing) AND ("spam email" OR spam)
Keyword Strategies:
  • Be flexible. Search with a range of keywords, or search terms.
  • Look for ideas, concepts, and search terms as you explore and learn. We start with the keywords we know and we find additional words as we go. See the image below that shows how you can read an introductory reference article and find useful terminology for your research.
  • Search in a range of databases.
  • You can look online too. Just be sure to check facts to be sure they're verified in other reliable sources.
Sample: Look for keywords in reference sources

The example below is from an article on blogging and ethics from the library's GVRL database. Highlighted words for next steps in my research might be: responsibility, accountability, trolling, freedom of speech, or censorship. 

(click on image to enlarge)

Highlighting keywords from a GVRL article on blogging

Effective Search Strategies

Develop Search Strategies for Database Searching

Strategize how to use your keywords in library databases and on the Web.

Strategy 1:

Use AND to connect your key ideas. Separate key ideas. Avoid complex phrases. 

  • Example: internet AND privacy instead of privacy on the internet
Strategy 2:

Use OR to search synonyms and related words at once.

  • Example: internet OR online OR Web
Strategy 3:

Use truncation * to search for forms of a root word. Truncate with an asterisk (Shift 8)

  • Example: ethic* = ethics OR ethical
Strategy 4:

Put phrases of a few words in quotes to keep the words together in your search. 

  • "professional networking"
Strategy 5:

Consider information type to help you select useful sources.

  • Reference: Use reference to find factual introductory info on your topic.
  • News & Trade: Use magazines and trade publications to find current articles on your topic in the news and professional magazines.
  • Current Issues Database: Use current issues databases to find the current conversation, including opinion essays, on your issue.