Research Tip for Arguments

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. Don’t reply at all if you want me to believe you didn’t read it despite my efforts to help you. 🙂


About davidbdale

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

20 Responses to Research Tip for Arguments

  1. giantsfan1comp says:

    This advice was helpful for I find that I always find myself in trouble while researching. After hearing that you should research on individual thesis points rather than the overall topic, I feel that researching for future papers will become earlier. All in all, this post was personally helpful.


  2. Domia abr Wyrda says:

    Interesting, reminds me when i did research paper on proving Nurse Ratchet a sociopath, I fond first hand accounts and medical journals to prove it, i did not find an article about Nurse Ratchet though.


  3. mandragon1comp says:

    I thought that this article was helpful because it has influenced me to look in a larger search parameter when attempting to get research for a paper.


  4. dean1comp says:

    It was pretty useful, but at the same time I feel like if you do try hard enough you can always find a source. It does show me how to go and not echo someone else’s thesis so that was useful to me.


  5. jaime1comp says:

    The advice was valid but I don’t think it would work out in every situation. Its useful to have options when looking for resources but sometimes depending on the topic it can very difficult to find research and resources that are applicable and easy to understand and incorporate into a piece of writing.


  6. ovechkin1comp says:

    This has been useful. It makes you think outside of the box to find abstract sources that you wouldn’t normally associate with your topic. I also learned about Google Scholar, which is helpful.


  7. owllover1comp says:

    This advice has been incredibly helpful. I didn’t know about some of these tips before this lesson in class. I often have an issue finding sources with certain topics, which causes me to change my topic in order to find enough sources to prove my argument. Now I might not have to worry so much about this.


  8. sparky1comp says:

    This has been helpful giving different tools and options for finding and using good sources.


  9. kai1comp says:

    This advice has helped me. I plan to use this for my future research and writing.


  10. tiger1comp says:

    I found the advice to be very helpful. When in doubt always use Rowan’s Campbell Library as a free source. I will overlook this advice again next time I am looking for sources.


  11. perry1comp says:

    This post is extremely valuable. I never thought to use different sources to match my thought process. I used to look for the “perfect sources” which now seem silly to me as I realize they only weakened my articles. I now know I should develop a thesis a look for supporting articles based on other topics. That will help solidify my own writings.


  12. greentwinky1comp says:

    This advice was very useful! I had never heard of Google Scholar, and I did not realize that we could search for sources on the Rowan Library website. I also did not realize that it is better to find sources that do not agree and disprove them rather than finding people that support you, but it makes a lot of sense. Thank you!


  13. ipl371comp says:

    This post has given very good advice so far. There are many times when I have been searching all over the web for information to support my writing, unfortunately unable to find anything. The suggestion of using google scholar and the rowan university library website are two wonderful ideas that should be of great help. I will update when I use these two resources and give you feedback as to how well they worked.


  14. frozen81comp says:

    This article encouraged me to read and consider sources that may not be specific to my article and accept and argue different view points. Being willing to let other sources influence your standpoint on a topic is important and will be useful when writing.


  15. supafreak1comp says:

    It was useful, but not that much. I feel as though the topic on which he picked was unique, and that it is not always the case that you can’t find that perfect source. More often than not, I can do a little extensive research and find the appropriate sources that I need.


  16. thedawg1comp says:

    This article was helpful. I did not know that you could go to the Rowan library and acquire sources that weren’t available through google scholar. It was also interesting learning about how I can be the first person to claim a thesis and support it with reason and facts.


  17. treehugger361comp says:

    This article is going to be very helpful for me. I am going to try to utilize as much of this information as I can.


  18. fluffy1comp says:

    This article seems to be very helpful. I will most definitely be using this article to help find my ideas and sources for future papers.


  19. vermster71comp says:

    So far this article has proven useful to me. I will update you once I try these websites out.


  20. bukowski1comp says:

    This advice has encouraged me to branch out and not use my thesis as an echo to other research that already exists. It is also possible to use sources and other thesis against themselves. Paving the way makes one their own expert.


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