Research Tips

Why this is important

I found Username a source using Google Scholar and the Rowan library.

“I can’t find any sources!”

Username and I were talking yesterday about his topic, the hateful anti-gay rhetoric spewed by the Westboro Baptist Church, that passionate, let’s just say obnoxious and vicious group responsible for the God Hates Fags signs they display at funerals for American soldiers, gay or otherwise.

His thesis is that the Church inadvertently creates support for the gay community, maybe even for the gay marriage efforts of local jurisdictions, by making it harder to share a point of view with a group so tasteless. We don’t want to be associated with the “God Hates Fags” group, so we find it impossible to publicly support their cause.

So far, Username has been frustrated looking for sources to support his thesis. No amount of searching for “Westboro Baptist Church” has yielded the sort of evidence he’s looking for. Which is a good thing, but he doesn’t know it yet.

“I’ve been looking in the wrong place!”

I suggested to him that the trouble was his search technique. He was looking for direct testimony from somebody that the WBC were creating enemies for their cause. I asked him why. He said he wanted evidence that we all want to associate our opinions with people we admire, and that we avoid being associated with people we despise. I asked him if he could give me an example. He suggested that sometimes the sudden appearance of unexpected people in media presentations have polarizing effects on viewers’ feelings. When Oprah Winfrey endorses a cause, for example, some people automatically embrace the cause to show their solidarity with Oprah, while others resist the cause from a similar impulse. I asked him how this related to the WBC. He said the appearance of the celebrity reflects on the value and credibility of the message. It was clear from our conversation that the personalities involved in expressing an opinion affect our opinions.

“All I had to do was talk about it with someone”

Which made me mention celebrity product endorsements. A few years back, not just golf fans, but people in general, wanted to associate with Tiger Woods any way they could, which made him a massively popular product endorser. Now marketers won’t touch him with a 9-iron.

The process Username had been using:

  1. I want to my thesis that the Westboro Baptist Church creates support for gay rights.
  2. I search endlessly for “Westboro Baptist Church.”
  3. Nobody has written about the effect of the WBC on public opinion.
  4. Nobody has written about the accidental support the WBC provides for gay marriage.
  5. I despair that there are no sources to prove my thesis, that the WBC creates support for gay rights.

The best (worst) outcome for this process:

  • Somebody would agree with me, which would prove my thesis. FAIL.
  • Somebody would have written about the idea before I did and I would simply echo them to support myself. FAIL.
  • I would “succeed” by parroting someone else’s thesis. FAIL.

What should I do instead?

  1. Think about (better yet, TALK about) my thesis until I start to raise questions that can be researched by searching something other than Westboro Baptist Church.
  2. Follow up that lead I generated for myself by raising the question of celebrity endorsement.

“This stuff actually works!”

Shortly after that conversation, I typed “celebrity endorsement” into Google Scholar and generated this lead on the second page:

The effects of negative information transference in the celebrity endorsement relationship

The source is a journal of retail management. It has nothing to do with the Westboro Baptist Church, but it has everything to do with how far people will go to distance themselves from a product (or perhaps a political or social position) on the basis of negative information about a celebrity who endorses it.

“But I can’t actually get the article I want!”

The actual journal article was not available for free on Google Scholar. The cost to print the article was $32. And I didn’t even know if it would help me. I like Username a lot, but that was a little steep for a source of unknown value. So:

“Oh. That was easy.”

I entered the title above into the search engine for Rowan’s Campbell Library. (I didn’t even have to choose between ProfSearch and ProQuest; the generic search engine did all the work for me, since I knew the title.) The immediate result was this:

The effects of negative information transference in the celebrity endorsement relationship

Free access to the full article from ProfSearch. Free because I’m affiliated, as you are, with the Rowan library database and the thousands of journals it subscribes to.

So, to update that process:

  1. Think about your topic.
  2. Talk about your topic.
  3. Listen carefully for researchable topics not immediately named in your thesis.
  4. Use whatever search engine works best for you
    • Library Database directly
    • Google Scholar
    • Wikipedia articles that yield rich lists of sources you can then retrieve by title
  5. If you run into a pay wall, enter the titles in the Campbell Library database.
  6. Read about the value (both positive and negative) of celebrity endorsement.
  7. Learn about our tendency to dissociate ourselves from unsavory characters (AND their products, AND their social views).
  8. Apply that evidence—from outside your primary topic—to your very specific thesis.

Feedback Required

Please reply below if this advice has been useful to you. Reply also if it hasn’t been useful. If you want me to believe you didn’t read it despite my efforts to help you, don’t reply at all. 🙂

About davidbdale

Inventor of and sole practitioner of 299-word Very Short Novels.
This entry was posted in davidbdale, Professor Post, Writing Help. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Research Tips

  1. haveanelephantasticday says:

    It has been read and is being taken into consideration while working on my assignment.


  2. palal24 says:

    This has been useful for me because I did not know about Google Scholar and now I can find reliable resources about my topic easier.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. vicarij0 says:

    This has been very helpful for finding information.


  4. marinebio18 says:

    I have read the research tips and I plan on using Google Scholar since I did not know about it before, I will take this into consideration as I continue my research.


  5. twofoursixohtwo says:

    I did find this information helpful. I have and will continue reevaluated my own research and thesis based on these tips.


  6. abcdefg577 says:

    Google Scholar is much more useful than I had assumed. I am glad you showed it to us, and that I now know about putting the searches in quotation marks to limit the results even further. I also realized that I may tend to parrot the authors slightly, and it may be best to find articles I disagree with, or try further to develop a more unique point of view.


  7. bigcounrty609 says:

    It seems a bit repetitive but I also have never known about Google Scholar, and thats certainly the most helpful thing about this.


  8. jcirrs says:

    This information was very helpful. Definitely plan on using Google Scholar


  9. douglasadams525 says:

    Definitely a helpful post. Google scholar should be useful in the future—I didn’t know that existed.


  10. alexmoran17 says:

    After reading Research Tips, I was always hear of the name “Google Scholar” but never seemed to take the time to learn how to use it properly. After reading the post, Google Scholar will definitely be a way to be a beneficial factor in the future.


  11. breadpatrol99 says:

    This post lead me to think more abstractly about my subject. I use google Scholar frequently, and find it to be quite helpful.


  12. hiralp365 says:

    definitely helpful


  13. belldere says:

    This was helpful because I didn’t know about google scholars. Also I feel as though I did know about putting something in quotes to get a better search for what ever you’re looking up, but I forgot about it so it was useful to be reminded that I can do that.


  14. themildewmuncher7 says:

    Thanks for all this info. In addition to Google Scholars, all this kinda gave me a different approach to research and will probably allow me to be more successful moving forward.


  15. thirdlady226 says:

    I actually never knew about Google Scholar, or even about putting the search terms in quotation marks. This was extremely helpful, and I’m excited to put it to use in finding other sources.


  16. brxttyb says:

    This was very helpful because I did not know about google scholar, nor did I know to put something in quotation marks to get a narrower selection of hits in a search engine.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s