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This is a guide to help students find quality sources when researching philosophy and ethics.


What Is Your Research Topic?

Once you have made a decision, you should generate keywords. Keywords are search terms that you use when searching for information about your topic. The above video explains how you can write keywords. Watch it, then continue reading this section.

Let's pose an example: you're writing about virtue ethics. Your keywords could include:

  • virtue ethics
  • virtue and ethics
  • Aristotle and ethics
  • cardinal virtues

Getting Background Information

When writing keywords or even starting philosophical research, it can be very helpful to get some background information first. A database like CREDO Reference is perfect for this task. Read an article or two about your topic so that  you become more familiar with it. This will make it easier to select keywords and to know if information sources that you find are actually relevant. I want to stress how important and useful it is to do this step. Philosophy, like many academic fields, has its own specialized vocabulary. A short article summarizing your topic, such as a few paragraphs on virtue ethics, clues you into that vocabulary.

Articles from Databases

Database Basics

Now that you have keywords, it's time to search the databases. Have you used the databases before? If you don't have recent experience with our library's databases, then I suggest watching this introductory video.

How to Search Academic Search Complete

The video embedded above shows you how to search Academic Search Complete, which is one of the three databases ideal for anthropological research. Both of these databases, Academic Search Complete and the Religion and Philosophy Collection, are structured the same way, so the tutorial video applies to all of them.

How to Search JSTOR

Another excellent database to use when researching philosophy is JSTOR. The video tutorial above shows you how to search it.


How to Search eBooks

We have two excellent ebook databases. These let you read full-text books online. The interfaces can be confusing, so I have included a tutorial video for each one.

The video above shows you how to search the ebook database titled EBSCO eBook Collection.

The video above shows you how to search the database ProQuest EBook Central.

MLA Documentation

How to Cite Your Sources

You must cite your sources according to the MLA style of documentation.

This is our video that introduces MLA documentation. I urge you to watch the entire video carefully before starting to write your paper or annotated bibliography. It is much easier to cite correctly as you go along, rather than try to fix your documentation after you have written your paper.

This is our sample paper. When you're writing a paper, you can model the formatting of your paper after this one. If you are unsure how to set up the formatting in Microsoft Word so that it fits the requirements for MLA formatting, you could instead download this blank Word document that has the formatting already set up for you.

This is our 2-page handout that summarizes the MLA style. It includes most of the types of sources that students commonly use.

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