Business Ethics


IC Library Print and Media Resources

Recommended Subject Searches

Note: There are many angles of approach to business ethics, perhaps reflecting people's ingenuity in bending--or breaking--the rules.  I've tried to arrange them in groups that (almost) make sense, but you'll need to do some serious scanning.

Business ethics
Pharmaceutical industry--Corrupt practices--United States
Discount houses (Retail trade)--United States--Management


IC Library Databases (Articles)

Recommended Databases

General OneFile :
     The most user-friendly of our comprehensive databases, covering almost any topic from a wide range of disciplinary angles and offering lots of full text. Use the default Subject search to find the best subject heading for your topic (and when you find a good one be sure to look at the "Related Subjects" to see if there's something even better).  Among the Subjects available here are Business Ethics, Corporate Corruption, Corporate Social Responsibility, False Advertising, and Insider Trading.
     When you settle on a subject heading, open the "Subdivisions" link below it. Most General OneFile subject searchs produce very large retrievals and the "subdivisions" help you narrow your search to a particular aspect: "Economic aspects," "Ethical aspects," "Forecasts and Trends," "Laws, Regulations and Rules," "Media Coverage," "Political aspects," "Psychological aspects," "Social aspects," and "Statistics," to name only a few.
     If the best available subdivision is still too broad, open it and add your own Keywords in the "Search within these results" slot at the upper left.
ProQuest Research Library :
     This is another comprehensive database with substantial full text.  Use the "Thesaurus" (above the search slots) to preview what Subject Headings are available.  Subect searching can be a more efficient way to search than with only Keywords, since it guarantees that the articles retrieved actually be about the Subject--not just use a particular word. 
     Note that to the right of your search results you can limit your retrieval by "Source Type" (including Magazines, Newspapers, Scholarly Journals),  "Document Type," (including Cover Story, Editorial, or Interview), "Document Feature" (including Photographs, Illustrations), and "Location."
     Above each set of articles you retrieve ProQuest will display related Subject searches to help either broaden or narrow your focus.
     User Advisory: ProQuest is fussy about entering Subject searches in the designated search slot. If your subject is a person, enter the name--last name first--in the "Person" slot; if a named group of any kind--Microsoft, the Catholic Church, Radiohead, the New York Mets--enter it in "Co/Org"; if a place enter it in "Location." 

Academic Search PremierSocINDEX with Full Text :
     Both these Ebsco databases will provide quite comprehensive coverage of business issues with ample full text.  Note that in both you can browse the "Subject Terms" (above the search slots) and once you find a likely Subject Heading for your topic you can "explode" (double click) it for a list of related Subject terms.  These will include Business Ethics, Corporations--Corrupt Practices, Accounting Ethics, Business Enterprises--Environmental Aspects, Whistleblowers, Deceptive Advertising, and Social Responsibility of Business.
     Note that after you have retrieved a set of articles you can keep adding Keywords above or suggested Subject Headings listed on the left (though note that these Subject Searches are added to your old search--they will narrow your results.  Also note that with each retrieval set there is a "Geography" button on the left where you can narrow the results by country--for instance, the United States--as well as "Source Types" where you can choose to view only the "academic" (scholarly) journal articles.

Business Source Premier (Special Business Interface) :
     Our largest database of newspaper, magazine and journal articles on all aspects of business and management. Notice the links for “SWOT Analyses,” “Company Profiles,” and “Industry Profiles” in the right-hand Browse box, as well as a Subjects button, where you can test which Subject headings will work for this database. Also notice all the business-specific Limits you can set if you open the “more options” link at the bottom of the search page: product name, industry code, ticker symbol.

Business Insights: Essentials :
     If you search by company (and sometimes your second step will be to select the headquarters from a list of branch offices, subsidiaries, and companies with a similar name), you will arrive at a page with the company profile and tabs along the top to open articles and data in several categories: News, Histories, Investment Reports, Suits and Claims, Products.

LexisNexis Academic  News:  
    Offering a keyword search of 100% full text from a vast number of national and international newspapers, this is an easy database to use poorly and a bit tricky to use well. In order not to be overwhelmed with articles in which your search terms are mentioned anywhere—first
 or last paragraph—or any number of times—once or ten times—use commands to target articles in which your topic words are mentioned early or mentioned often.
     Use the hlead command (headline and lead paragraphs) to target articles in which your topic words occur in the prime news-story position of headline or first paragraphs. For example: hlead(fracking and pollution) will retrieve just the articles in which the words “fracking” and “pollution” are used in the headline or first paragraphs. Note: the term or terms to which you want this command to apply must be put in parentheses after hlead, with no space between.
     Use the altleast command to target articles in which your topic words occur a set number of times. For example: atleast5(“gay marriage”) will retrieve only the articles where this phrase is used at least 5 times—indicating that it must be a main topic. You can plug in any number after atleast—atleast3 or atleast7. Note: the term or terms to which you want this command to apply must be put in parentheses with no space between the number you choose and the first parenthesis.
     Use the date range offered under Advanced Options. Because this is a large database of 100% full text, one of the most effective ways to retrieve fewer than 1000 hits is to set up a time frame. Note: if you use the calendar icons to set beginning and end dates, you need to choose a year, a month, and a day for each. Without the day, the date won’t register.

LexisNexis Academic  Law Reviews
    Offering a keyword search of 100% full text law reviews (publishers of scholarly articles on legal issues), this is an easy database to use poorly and a bit tricky to use well. In order not to be overwhelmed by articles in which your search terms are mentioned in passing but are not the prime focus, 
use the atleast command to target articles in which your topic words are required to appear at least a certain number of times. For example, atleast5(“gun control”) or atleast7(genes and patents) will retrieve only the articles in which those terms are used repeatedly. Note: the term or terms to which you want this command to apply must be put in parentheses with no space between the number you choose and the first parenthesis.
     Use the date range offered under Advanced Options. Because this is a large database of 100% full text, one of the most effective ways to retrieve fewer than 1000 hits is to set up a time frame. Note: if you use the calendar icons to set beginning and end dates, you need to choose a year, a month, and a day for each. Without the day, the date won’t register.

     JSTOR covers a wide range of scholarly journals in most disciiplines--including business--always beginning with the first issue of each one.  This provides 100% full text access to articles from not only the first half of the 20th century but even the second half of the 19th.  Be aware, however, that at the other end of the date range articles don't appear in JSTOR until at least 2-3 years after publication. Also be aware that for 100% full text you must change the setting from "include links to external content" to "include only content I can access."
     JSTOR offers only a Keyword search of its complete full text, so retrievals are large, but the relevancy ranking does a good job of putting the strongest matches on the first few pages.  This relevancy ranking does not weigh date, however, and will display a mix of articles written decades apart.  So if your topic is time sensitive, be alert to publication dates.
     The academic journals covered here feature numerous book reviews, so it's a good idea to tic the "Article" limit below the search slots so you won't be overwhelmed by book reviews on your topic.  
 Philosopher's Index :
     No full text, but the “ArticleLinker” arrows at the end of each citation will connect to scholarly full text in our other databases--making this an efficient one-stop search for ethics.  "Business ethics" is an available Descriptor (Subject), but you will need to add other Subjects or Keywords to narrow your retrieval.  And be sure to check the Limits for "Journal Articles Only" and "English Only" if that's what you want.

CQ Researcher :
      A weekly publication from Congressional Quarterly. Each report (approx. 20 pages) examines a single issue relevant to American public policy, including health, criminal justice, internaional affairs, education, the environment, technology, and the economy. The non-partisan analysis always includes a "Background," "Current Situation," "Outlook," and "Pro/Con" section, as well as numerous charts and graphs of statistical data, maps, and a bibliography for further reading.  Among recent issues are "Business Bankruptcy" (2009), "Financial Crisis" (2008), "Financial Bailout" (2008), "Socially Responsible Investing" (2008), and "Consumer Safety" (2007). 
ScienceDirect :
     Don't be put off by the name--"Science" here also includes the Social Sciences and there's a good deal of business information and discussion.
     Because it’s a large database with a great deal of full text, the absence of Subject searching means that your Keyword searches will often retrieve large sets of articles, many of which mention but don’t discuss your search term(s). One way around this is to limit your initial search to the “Abstract Title Keyword” field. Once you have found an article that sounds on-target, click the “Related Articles” link beneath the citation This will open a range of articles on the same topic.
    To get a sense of the range of articles available here on business ethics, try entering an "Abstract Title Keyword" search on business or corporat* or industr* and another in the second slot on ethic* and moral*.  (* is the truncation symbol here: ethic* retrieves ethic, ethics, ethical, and ethically.)

Where's the Full Text for This Article??

     Few databases offer 100% full text.  Most retrieve a mix of full text articles and article "citations"--article title, author(s), publication info, and usually an "abstract" or one-prargraph summary of the content.  When a citation makes you want the full text, look below it for this icon: 
     Clicking "GETIT" checks (almost all) the IC Library's other databases to see if any offers the full text of the article--or if the Library has a print subscription to the journal in which the article appeared. 
  • "GETIT" will usually find the full text in another database and open it in a new window.  
  • If none of our databases can access the full text but we have a print subsciption to the journal, "GETIT" will retrieve the Library catalog record for the journal so that you can see if the date of the article falls within the date range we have on hand.
  • If full text is not available from any database or from a print subsciption, "GETIT" will provide a link to the IC Library's Interlibrary Loan.  Log in (same as your IC e-mail)--and set up your account if you've never used it before.  "GETIT" will have populated the article request form with all the necessary information and you simply submit the request elecrtonically.  Most articles are supplied as digital files and will be sent to you via e-mail when they arrive.

Contact Us

picture of Lisabeth Chabot

Lisabeth Chabot

College Librarian
(607) 274-3182

And Don't Just Take My Word For It . . .

The IC Library Business Librarian Jim Bondra offers research guides in Business, Business--International, Business--Company Info, and Business--Industry info.

Web Resources

Web Directories

     Web Directories differ from search engines like Google in that all the online resources have been selected and annotated by editors, thereby promising a much higher degree of quality control. 

Gateway and Full-Text Sites

Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research: A selection of business ethics articles.

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics: Business Ethics: A good deal of full text here on a wide range of issues.  The 10 categories on the first page help you target articles, power points, and videos on the topic that interests you.

Multinational Monitor: Links: The Multinational Monitor itself is worth a look for investigative reporting on multinationals, and its categorized links constitute an excellent gateway to relevant online resources. Articles: as the URL implies, this is a Canadian site, but with a good cross-section of american and international full-text articles.  Also check out Topics & Issues

The Business Ethics Blog: Chris MacDonald, a philosophy professor, posts an interesting blog that tackles business ethics issues and events month by month for the past several years.  A good site to brainstorm possible research topics.

Corporate Watch: Fascinating site from an activist corporate watchdog organization.  See especially "Company Profiles," "Research," and  "Reports."

CorpWatch: "Non-profit investigative research and journalism to expose corporate malfeasance and to advocate for multinational corporate accountability and transparency."  Look at the stories under 'Issues" and "Research."

Partisan Approaches

     The Web is home to many think tanks with political agendas.  An organization called SourceWatch can help you identify such ties and alert you to any political agenda the research was intended to serve.
     Meanwhile, for a look at a conservative approach to the proper conduct of business, you might begin with the Cato Institute's Finance, Banking & Monetary Policy or for a more liberal perspective try the Brooking Institute's Business section.

Citation Help

MLA Citation

MLA is the citation style used by most disciplines in the Humanities. Here is my guide to the latest (2016) update of the MLA style.