Ethics and the Public Sphere Course Guide: TRN171

Finding Reference Articles

A Reference book either in print or online is useful tool with which to begin your research.  Specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias for ethics, society and law will give you summary articles for your topic with a bibliography of authoritative sources for further reading.  Some recommended reference books are: 

Ashgate Research Companion to Ethics and International Relations, Edited by Patrick Hayden. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2009
[Trinity Stacks JZ1306 .A83 2009]

Encyclopedia of International Relations and Global Politics.  London: Routledge, 2005.

The Encyclopedia contains fifty major entries on contemporary topics including crimes against humanity, terrorism, failed state, and just war.  Important concepts are cross-referenced and there are suggestions for further reading.
[Trinity Reference Collection, Main Floor JZ1160 .E593 2005]


Ethics is a three volume online encyclopedia which was revised in 2005 to include current ethical concerns.  Topics such as bioethics, child soldiers, and war crimes trials are covered.  Click on Contents to find a list of the articles in the encyclopedia.

International Ethics, Edited by Mervyn Frost. Los Angeles: Sage, 2011. 4 volumes. 
Each volume has a different focus: 1. Society of States 2. Global Civil Society: Non State Actors in World Politics 3. Changing Constitution of Global Politics 4. Ethics and Foreign Policy
[JZ1306 .I56 2011]

The Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics, Edited by Hugh La Follette.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

This handbook contains in-depth essays on the current thinking about ethical issues.  Essays are divided into six areas: “Our Personal Lives”, “Moral Status”, “Equality”, “The Just Society”, “Justice and International Relations” and “Life and Death”.  An extensive bibliography follows each article. 
[Trinity Reference Collection, Main Floor BJ1031 .O94 2003]

Reference Universe

This resource lists by subject both online and print encyclopedias and dictionaries available at University of Toronto Libraries. 

Finding Books

Catalogue access is available on the University of Toronto website.  Decide on the type of search (Simple in which you can search for terms in any order that may be limited to author, title, subject or call number; Advanced in which you can do Fielded or Boolean searches).  Search results may be refined further by clicking on items listed in the left panel.  

TIP: When you are starting your research, think of terms that describe your topic as succinctly as possible; think about related words, different word endings (i.e. humanitarian or humanitarianism) and synonyms for the terms you’ve decided on since the same terms are not used in every database.

Finding Journal Articles

An article database is used to search for articles in newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, essay collections and conference proceedings.  There are a number of different article databases, some useful for interdisciplinary topics, others subject specific. 


Google Scholar

You can configure your browser so that you are recognized as a member of the University of Toronto community and get free access to articles.  Follow the instructions below the link Connect to this resource.


One of the first article databases to provide full text access to complete back runs of journals in the humanities, social sciences and sciences. Ability to search the full text of each journal. Recent volumes are not available as database adheres to “moving wall” policy to ensure that publishers collect revenue.

Subject Specific

On the University of Toronto Library Web Site, click on the link “Subjects A to Z". Under the heading "For the best article & research databases", choose the area of study that you are doing research in. The article databases that are recommended will provide access to journals specifically in that subject area. For this course, International Relations or Canada as areas of study will be useful.  Within those selections, the following databases are recommended:

WorldWide Political Science Abstracts

Provides indexing for journals in political science, international relations, law and public administration.  Major areas of coverage include but are not limited to:  comparative politics, developing nations, politics and society, economic policy, and welfare systems.  

Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO)

This database focuses on theory and research in international affairs. It includes working papers from university research institutes, occasional papers series from NGOs, proceedings from conferences, policy briefs and case studies.  

PAIS International

PAIS provides references in the field of international relations, public affairs and social policy to journals, articles, books, government documents, research reports, internet material, and publications of international agencies.  International in scope some of its major areas of coverage include ethnic cleansing, political persecution, globalization, and weapon stockpiles.

Finding Newspaper Articles

Canadian Newsstand

Newspapers Research Guide (University of Toronto Library)

One of a number of research guides produced by University of Toronto librarians, this guide provides links to both domestic and international newspapers.

Proquest Newspapers

This database provides full text access to English language international newspapers. Click on the Publications tab to see the list of newspapers covered.

Finding Websites

People tend to believe that the Internet has all the information they need.  However, anyone can create their own website.  How do you know whether the website that you’ve found is relevant, authoritative and current?

 1.  Look at sites where subject experts evaluate websites.

Virtual Library


2. Use a website evaluation tool:

Evaluating Web Pages (University of California Berkeley Libraries)

Research Using the Internet (University of Toronto Writing Centre)

Recommended Websites

Brookings Institution

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Canadian International Council (CIC)

Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

The Council’s mission is to be the voice for ethics in international policy.  It promotes ethical leadership on issues of war, peace, religion in politics and global social justice.  The site provides access to full text articles, papers, reports, transcripts, audio and video presentations.

Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)
Ethics Updates

The best website for this subject, Ethics Updates provides resources and updates on current literature, both popular and scholarly that relate to ethics.  Material is divided into three broad subject areas; Ethical Theory which includes such topics as religion and ethics, utilitarianism, race, ethical relativism, justice and rights theories; Applied Ethics which deals with topics  such as abortion, war, terrorism, bioethics and animal rights; Resources which includes videos, surveys, case studies for discussion, guides to writing ethics papers and classic texts in ethics.


EthicsWeb is a collection of ethics related websites with a Canadian focus.  One section “Applied Ethics Resources on WWW” is divided into topics such as animal welfare ethics, international ethics, environmental ethics and health care ethics.

Heritage Foundation

Institute for Global Ethics

This nonprofit organization is dedicated to promoting ethical behavior in individuals, institutions and nations through research, public discourse and public action.  It produces Ethics Newsline, an online source for news and information on current events.

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

The Center focuses on bioethics, character education and business, campus and government ethics but it also has substantial resources in global, legal, media, technological and environmental ethics.  Its publications include articles, case studies, blogs and podcasts.

Religion, Ethics and Politics in World Affairs (Markkula Center for Applied Ethics)

Created by Eric O. Hanson, the site examines the influence religion and ethics have on international systems, institutions, and countries and how political and ethics issues interact within each religion.  Lists of resources are provided for each topic. 

Citing Sources

Writing at the University of Toronto

This is an excellent site for advice on academic writing. 


Use this online personal database and bibliography creator to organize your research.  Once you have registered, take the brief tutorial to learn how the database works.

Revised August 29, 2012.