College of Advancing Studies


Fall 2004


Instructor: Brendan A. Rapple, Ph.D.                             
Phone (work): (617) 552 4482

Office: O'Neill Library 409


Course Description:

This course examines the logic of research design and explores how data are approached, collected and analyzed in an interactive information age. Practical applications across disciplines introduce both the electronic and traditional tools and techniques necessary to interpret and utilize findings. Case studies and presentations prepare students to analyze, evaluate and challenge specific applications and to suggest alternative interpretations. Online databases and the WWW expand options.

Research in an Electronic Age by Brendan A. Rapple and Kwasi Sarkodie-Mensah.

BC's Policy on Academic Integrity:
Please click here for important information on academic integrity: /

Readings for EachClass:
In addition to reading the assigned chapters from the Rapple/Sarkodie-Mensah textbook, you will be required to read for most classes about two other chapters, articles etc.  It is important that you read the weekly reading assignments. Each class there will be a general discussion of the assigned article(s). Your contribution to the discussion will count for a substantial part of the 10 points given to class participation.

Class Attendance:  
Class attendance is mandatory. To avoid an incomplete grade for this course, please let me know ahead of time about any circumstances that may prevent you from making it to class.

 Grad ing

Class Participation  10%
Homework Assignments  32%
Mid-term Exam 10%
Final Exam  15%
Final Assignment  33%
      Total 100% 



Many different types of research
Importance of BOTH the digital AND the traditional print library
Readings for next class:
  1. Mary Sellen. Information Literacy In the General Education: A New Requirement for the 21st Century   The Journal of General Education 51.2 (2002) 115-126 (Note this article is available through the  Project Muse database). 
  2. Textbook, Ch. 1.
  1. What is Research?  
  2. Why Evaluate Web Sites? Because your student just found a web site about an octopus that lives in a tree! by Tracy Crow.
  3. Textbook, Ch. 2.

The Information Explosion

Complexity and Vastness of the Internet -- Evaluating Information from the Internet

Other Helpful Pages for Evaluating Web Sites

Guides for Searching the Web

Some Types of Material/Data Used in Research


Finding Periodicals in O'Neill Library

Electronic Books


Readings for next class:

  1. Understanding Research: Top Ten Tips for Advocates and Policymakers. Fact Sheet by Stephanie A. Schaefer.
  2. "Mining the Deep Web for Company Information" by Marydee Ojala  (This article is available through the online database Expanded Academic ASAP ).
  3. Textbook, Ch. 3.

Conducting Business Research -- How to Locate Business Information

Homework 1 Due Today

Useful Sites:

Searching for Company Information -- New York Public Library

Using Library Databases to Answer Common Business Questions -- Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library

Company Information

Industry Information

Business Resources (for Massachusetts)

Business Statistics

Selected BC Libraries Business Databases:

       Other Boston College Management & Economics Databases

Homework 2 Assigned Today -- Due 10/13/04: Choose a significant web site (out of the millions and millions on the web) and write a review of it. The site may be related to any subject of your choice. The review should be essentially your evaluation of the site using some of the criteria we have discussed in class. This review should be about 900-1000 words or about 3 pages in length.

Readings for next class:
  1. Faculty Contribution: Scholarly Electronic Publishing  (1st two and a half pages of Library Faculty Newsletter, Fall 2003) .
  2. Textbook, Ch. 4

Conducting Research in History

Homework 2 Due Today

Homework 3 assigned today -- due on 10/27/04       Click here for the homework

Reading for next class: 
Designing a Questionnaire


Readings for next class:

  1. Firing the Literary Canons. (failure of educational curricula to include a required multicultural bibliography)  by Lillian S. Robinson (This article is available through the online database Expanded Academic ASAP -- you may get a more legible copy by going to the database and printing out a copy from there).
  2. Textbook, Ch. 5.


Research in Literature

Homework 3 Due Today

Homework 4 Assigned Today -- Due 11/17/04 .   Click here for the homework

Fundamental Steps in Choosing a Topic and Researching a Paper (Check Ch. 5 of Textbook

Database:   Periodical Contents Index (PCI Full Text)

Mid-Term Exam


Reading for the class of 11/17/04:
The following is an example of a  literature review on Critical Thinking. It was written by Gwendolyn Reece of American University. When reading it, focus on its design, structure, and style rather than its content:   Critical Thinking and Transferability: A Review of the Literature


Steps in Writing a Research Paper

Setting Up Automatic Alerts


Writing A Literature Review

Homework 4 Due Today

Examples of Literature reviews:    

Lit. Review on Aspects of the Death Penalty

Lit. Review on Aspects of Cigarette Smoking

Lit. Review on Aspects of Abused Children


Reading for next class:   Scholarly Journals in the Digital Age  by Brendan Rapple   (This article is available through the online database Expanded Academic ASAP -- you may get a more legible copy by going to the database and printing out a copy from there).

Writers' Resources -- Crediting/Referencing Sources, i.e. Scholarly Documentation

See also The University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center APA Documentation Style website , especially the Formating Your Paper sections.

Book Reviews in Research:

Finding Book Reviews

Reading for next class:
Ghosts of Tuskegee: The Government is Still Living Down its Infamous Study of Untreated Syphillis in Alabama, But to Doctors Who Took Part, There's Nothing to Apologize For.

Major Papers Due Today

Ethical Concerns in Research

Examples of Institutional Review Board (IRB) documentation:
        1) Research Integrity (BC's Web Site)
        2) BC's Policies and Procedures for Use of Human Subjects in Research

Database :   Web of Science


Final Exam

Wrapping Up

MAJOR PAPER ASSIGNMENT (worth 33% of grade)

This paper (at least 12 pages in length) will be a Literature Review on a specific topic. The purpose of a literature review is to     

Students must choose ONE of the following twelve research problems/topics:

The literature cited does not have to be exhaustive, but it should contain the most pertinent related studies and show an awareness of promising current practices. The literature should be organized by topic. Topical organization serves to point out to the reader what is known about various aspects of the study. Thus, a complete picture of the background of the study is put together step by step. Remember that without a Lit. Review, an integrated and comprehensive picture of a research topic cannot be constructed. Researchers must assess and present their own ideas in the context of existing knowledge and established thinking.

For the purpose of this assignment I want you to indicate that you have employed a variety of different research tools (online, CD-ROM, print etc.) to locate your literature.

Updated: 8 December,  2004
Questions or comments contact Brendan A. Rapple:
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