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NSP: What is Business For? Catholic Social Teaching

Tips, hints and search strategies for completing the assigned research paper for this NSP course.

What is a search strategy?

Developing a strong search strategy can save you time when it is time to search for resources.  Rather than doing general searching using Google, we recommend that you search using the library databases.  Searching Google is much different than searching library databases.

One facet of database searching that can be difficult to get used to is subject heading or keyword searches.  Rather than typing a question in and expecting instant results, users need to focus on identifying and using controlled language searches.

Identifying controlled language for subject headings and keywords is beneficial for the savvy researcher.  Controlled language is typically assigned by the Library of Congress and is then used universally (or at least in English) by vendors and publishers when identifying main points and ideas for their books, journals and other publications.

Once the controlled language for your topic is identified, database searching is usually much easier. 

Language used on websites by various entities can often be arbitrary and inconsistent.

Topics for Research

Topics:  Based on chapters in The True Cost of Low Prices.  Choose an issue and use the framework from the chapter to address your topic.  Do not simply summarize the chapter.  Your paper must show evidence of outside research. 

  • The Search for the Most Desperate Workers (neocolonialism, sweatshops)
  • Immigrant Workers: The Most Vulnerable Among Us (wage theft, day laborers, migrant workers)
  • Modern Day Slavery (debt bondage, human trafficking in labor including sex workers)
  • Violence Against Creation (business and environmental degradation)
  • The Politics of Food (food sovereignty and trade issues: see resources at Food First: http://foodfirst.org/)
  • Women and Children: Double Victims (child labor/women and labor)

Based upon your topic and chapter selection, you can brainstorm and identify keywords and phrases to incorporate into your outside research.  You can then use those words to begin your searching.  If you like, you can then explore specific subject headings to narrow down your search even further. Depending upon word choice, this may or may not be necessary.  Don't be afraid to experiment and try new things!


Examples of Keywords and Subject Headings:

  • Violence Against Creation (business and environmental degradation)

I began doing some searching using the keywords listed in (parenthesis) and looked at my results.  I was delighted to see that 'environmental degradation' is actually a subject heading.  From within the article record, you can make note of subject headings to use to refine your search or you can click on the subject to redo your search.  The great thing about redoing the search using this subject heading is that the results you get will have that subject heading as a central idea rather than mixing in articles where that idea is secondary or incidental.

You can then refine your search using other keywords (business, economy, government, culture, Catholic church, etc.) to  capture all the different facets you'll need to answer the questions for your paper.