Business Principles: BUSI 1301 (Holcomb) - LSC Kingwood

Assignment Guide

Research Paper

Prof. Linda Holcomb

$100 dollar billsThe best library assignments are those that use a variety of resources including books, newspaper and journal articles, as well as internet sites. We encourage you to use all of these sources for this paper. Books provide some of the best information for business topics. You may apply for a library card online. The library card barcode number is your login number to use the databases from your home computer. We hope you will take full advantage of the many resources our libraries offer. Please contact the LSC-Kingwood Librarians or write to Linda Holcomb if you have questions.


Each student should pick a controversial topic in business today. You may use the attached list or find your own topic, but the topic must be approved by your instructor. Research the topic with at least four credible, outside sources. Those sources should cover all sides of the issue. Remember, in business you must be objective when assessing information.

The paper needs to be three to five typed pages plus a cover page and works cited page. There are to be NO QUOTES. All work should be in the students own words.  Students should fairly present all sides of the controversial issue, pros and cons with factual information to support each side. All sources should be fully cited. Encyclopedias, including Wikipedia, and your textbook may be used as background information only, but NOT as one of your primary four sources.  If you use Wikipedia or your text, be sure to cite it. 

Suggested topics: If you choose a different topic, you must get it approved by Prof. Holcomb.
  1. Is it ethical for pharmaceutical drug companies to test their own drugs for FDA approval rather than requiring an independent agency to test drugs?
  2. The difference between CEO compensation (pay, bonuses, stock options and perks) and employee pay has increased dramatically over the last twenty years.What are the reasons for this and is it fair to employees and investors?
  3. How does CEO compensation (pay, bonuses, stock options, and perks) in the US compare with the rest of the world? Why are CEOs in US corporations compensated so much more that CEOs in corporations in the rest of the world?
  4. Does the use of ethanol really conserve energy? There are some concerns that ethanol may require more energy to produce, lower gas mileage and use valuable land and water for energy production in place of food production.
  5. Should companies provide benefits, such as medical insurance to homosexual life partners if they provide benefits to legal spouses?
  6. What are the effects of companies hiring illegal immigrants? Some employers, such as restaurants, construction, and agriculture claim to have difficulty hiring legal workers to do jobs that are unpleasant or dangerous.
  7. Should Halliburton have been awarded government contracts in Iraq without participating in a normal government bidding process? Be sure to discuss the reasons why the government might want to award contracts without the bidding process as well as the repercussions of foregoing a bidding process.
  8. Does the news media sensationalize the news? What are the reasons they may do this and the repercussions of doing so.
  9. What are the ethical issues of marketing to children? What do companies think they should market to children?
  10. Should Pharmaceuticals be allowed to market their products? Does this encourage more people to request unnecessary drugs? What about the company's needs to make a profit?
  11. What are the arguments for minimum wage and what are the arguments against a minimum wage?
  12. Should Congress and the American public have bailed out the American Auto Industry? Present the reasons for and the reasons against the bail out. How does the auto industry differ from the financial bailout?
  13. Should Congress and the American public have bailed out AIG? What are the reasons for and against this bailout?
  14. What are the reasons for and against subprime lending?

Librarian talk about Getting Started!

As you begin, narrow your topic to a size that you can manage.  Consider keywords that will help you find the information you need. These can be names of people, events, or broader identifying terms.  Use these keywords for locating information in the library catalog, electronic databases, and on the internet.

Sample Keywords:  business ethics, pharmaceutical or drug testing, CEO compensation, employee compensation levels, employee bonuses, ethanol, cap and trade policies, energy conservation, alternative fuels, land use and conservation of resources, life partners and employee health benefits, hiring illegal immigrants, government contracts, government bidding process, media and news, media and sensationalizing, media and objectivity, ethics and marketing and children, drugs and marketing, health issues and drug marketing, pharmaceutical companies and profits, raising minimum wage levels, minimum wage and cost of living, Automobile industry bailout, TARP, financial industry bailout, subprime lending, FNMA, Freddie Mac.There are many more, for help ask your librarian

More about Choosing Keywords (30 sec.)


Here is a small sampling of books your library may have. These and many other very good sources of information can be found by searching the library catalog using keywords such as CEO compensation, alternative fuels, or any of the keywords suggested above, and from the topics list. Books are excellent sources of background information. They are not as current as articles found in business magazines, but in order to understand a particular business practice or problem, these sources can be very useful.

Librarian Talk about Books!

More about...Finding Books (31 sec.)
  • REF BJ 63 .E54 - Ethics - Ed. John K. Roth. This three volume set includes articles on business ethics, economics, drug testing, corporate scandal, conflict resolution, computer crime, electronic surveillance and many more topics related to ethical considerations in today's business and electronic age. These topics can be used as keywords in searching the databases as well.
  • Misbehavior in organizations - Yoav Vardi and Ely Weitz discuss business ethics, organizational behavior and corporate culture in this e-book available through EBSCO's eBook Collection.
  • KF3457 . W45 - Fair, Square & Legal: safe hiring and managing & firing practices to keep you and your company out of court. Author Donald Weiss presents labor laws and legislation. Also available as an e-book in the eBook Collection.
  • HD 8081 .A5 B33 - Illegal People: How globalization creates migration and criminalizes immigrants. David Bacon describes examples of real world problems encountered by businesses or individuals hiring people who are not native to the United States.
  • RA401 .D44 S53 - The body hunters: testing new drugs on the world's poorest patients. Author Sonia Shah looks at corrupt practices in the pharmaceutical industry.
  • HC79 .E5 K422 - Markets and the Environment. Authors Nathaniel Keohane and Sheila Olmstead explain the impact of environmental protection on the marketplace.
  • HG2626 . S76 R63 - Overdrawn: the bailout of American Savings. Michael Robinson describes the problems incurred in 1990 when financial corruption led to a state bailout of this savings and loan association. Sound familiar?
This short film on Business Ethics describes the dilemma faced by companies in the 21st century.  This film and others on the problems faced by businesses and companies can be found in Films on Demand, a video database linked to the Research Databases page.  You will need to log in with your library barcode number.


You have access to many databases through the links on the LSCS-Kingwood Library web page. The databases listed below will help with this research paper. Use the keywords suggested above or from your topic to find articles to support your objective look at the business controversy you are describing. In each database, you can limit your search results to full text or complete articles. You will find articles from business magazines and professional magazines on all of these topics. If you should need assistance, please contact one of the reference librarians in person in the library, by Chat online or on the telephone. In order to open any database from your home computer, you will need a library card barcode number. That number, on the back of your student ID, is your login.

Librarian Talk about Finding Journal and Newspaper Articles!

Electronic databases are purchased by the libraries for your research use. Use them to find articles in newspapers and journals, letters, reference books, illustrations, photographs and more.

Home access to article databases is available with your updated library card barcode. If you need assistance finding an article contact the Reference Librarians and they will see that you get the article. They will need full bibliographic information - and your name and address. Send your phone number as well, so they can contact you if necessary.

Use your library card to login to these online journal databases.

More about searching databases (25 sec.)

Business Source Complete - This database is focused on resources dealing with business topics. Use the "Advanced Search" form to focus your search on your specific area or topic. Using the keywords above as well as synonyms or similar terms will allow you to find many articles. The results list will be presented with the most recent articles first. You want to find those articles written within the last 3 to 6 months. You can also specify a particular magazine or a particular article. If an article is not full text is this database, we may be able to locate the article in another database, or we can request the article from another library. Let us know if you need help. Use your library card barcode number to login from home.

Academic Search Complete - Many topics are discussed in the magazines and journals found in this database. On the Advanced Search page, type keywords or keyword phrases in separate boxes to find articles focused on your topic. From your home computer, when you click on this link, you will be asked for your barcode number, enter it and the database should open. Then click on "Advanced Search" to go to the best search page to use to focus your search request.

Regional Business News - Daily international newswires and regional business publications.


These internet sites are just a few examples of the types of sites you may want to explore. Remember, internet sites often represent a particular opinion or viewpoint. Try to assess the information presented on the web page for bias or objectivity and thoroughness of the coverage of your topic. Use the guidelines listed in the Librarian Talk box for evaluating an Internet site and ask your instructor if you are in doubt about the quality of information you find. Hint: if the web page does not show an author's name or a date of creation, or if that date is old, try to find a more appropriate site.

Librarian Talk about the Internet!

The internet will be a wonderful source of original documents. Browse the sites we have suggested below. Remember, you do want to find reputable sites. Look at:

  • Accuracy - The information should be researched and show proof of that research. 
  • Source - Look at the domain:  .edu   .gov   .org  .net are valid research sources. Your company's website is also a valuable resource.
  • Authority - What are the author's credentials? (Don't quote from another college freshman's paper.)
  • Coverage - Does the page have the information you need for your research?
  • Objectivity - If a work is biased, use it - just make sure your professor knows YOU know. Offer both sides of issues, where applicable. 
More about finding internet sources (25 sec.)

AFL-CIO article on 2008 trends in CEO benefits and compensation. This page presents some interesting statistics and it does offer a list of sources for the information presented. Even though the dates for the statistics are from 2008, the article may be helpful in identifying the trends. There is a viewpoint presented here.

Business Ethics: the Magazine of Corporate Responsibility - An online magazine. The mission of Business Ethics – now, as then – is “to promote ethical business practices, to serve that growing community of professionals and individuals striving to work and invest in responsible ways.”

Glaxo Smith Kline - a pharmaceutical company which posts an ethical conduct Responsibility statement online for consumers. You will probably find similar statements on most pharmaceutical (or any company's) web page.

Council on Foreign Relations An Op-Ed article by Max Boot from 2004 on the contracts Halliburton has won from the government. There really are two sides to every story, this article presents a look at both sides.

Media Ethics - online format for the print journal.  This journal discusses and offers comments by readers on many topics related to news coverage in media. Sponsors include  universities and colleges with journalism or communication departments as well as The Ethics and Excellence Journalism Foundation. 

Report from the Texas State Comptroller of Accounts, Susan Combs, on ethanol production and use as a fuel. This web page is part of larger report on renewable fuels and is well documented. It seems to have been written in the last part of 2008.

Columbia Journalism Review, a publication of Columbia University presents an article on TV news coverage. Remember, the article by Megan Garber is her opinion. It was written in December, 2008.

Using the Internet to find information can be very time consuming, we suggest finding articles in the databases as they are well identified and usually can be located more quickly because the databases are set up to help you do just that. Instead of finding thousands of results, or more, which don't really address your issue, you'll find a shorter, more focused list of full text articles.



Librarian Talk about Getting Help

Support for a successful paper is more than finding the right resources.  Putting it all together takes time and effort.  Sometimes it takes additional help from the librarians or tutors.   Please consider the following aids.

More about getting help (25 sec.)

Citing Sources Using the Library MLA Style Guide | LSC - Kingwood Library guide. Examples for both paper and electronic citations.

Avoiding Plagiarism   |   Excellent information and guide on how to avoid plagiarism from the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University.

University of Texas Copyright Crash Course | This helpful guide on copyright is suggested by Lone Star College-Kingwood Teaching and Learning Center.

Learning Center |   Check our hours for in-house tutoring.

Remember Professor Holcomb is the person who has final approval of your paper. If you are uncertain about the appropriateness of a resource or website, contact her.

For questions about how to use the resources or the format needed for MLA, the LSC-Kingwood Librarians will give you great advice.

Page written by B. Bradley, Jan., 2009 || updated 7/2012, B. Bradley


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