Before the internet, conducting research for school, work or out of curiosity involved a set of encyclopedias and a trip to the library. However, we now live in an age where information is readily accessible from your computer.
On the Web, you can find information about any topic you desire. The World Wide Web is a huge database of user submitted content where you can access an astronomical number of informative sources, online groups and multi-media.
Because all of the content on the internet is self-submitted, and there are very few regulations as to what a person can and can t publish (depending on local laws), content found on the Web may be inaccurate and opinion based.
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Nevertheless, the internet should not be disregarded when conducting academic research. It is a major source for scholarly journals, current news, books, credible magazines, general information and other relevant content. Here are a few tips to help you efficiently conduct online research and find the information you want:
Tap into reputable sources
Many reliable statistics, articles and other information can be found on government and educational websites. These websites are easily identified because their domain names end in .edu or .gov. Additionally, you can conduct a search for only scholarly information. See the sources below.
Subscribe to RSS Feeds
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds is new technology that allow subscribers an immediate update when new information is posted. RSS feeds are particularly handy for news sources or other websites that are constantly updated. If you need to collect current events on a particular topic, RSS feeds will practically do your work for you.
Join or Create a Group
A number of websites like Google, Yahoo and MSN offer online groups where members can share information. This is an excellent way to meet people who share your same interests and discover new resources.
Understand and Use Boolean Logic or an advanced search
Boolean Logic is becoming less common as more search engines offer advanced search features. Boolean Logic uses the words and , or and not to create relationships among search terms and allow you to narrow your search.
The advanced search feature on Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask.com and other popular search engines accomplish the same goal. Use these methods to filter your results and find the information you re looking for.
Use Synonyms, Alternate Spellings and Related Topics
As you conduct your research, take note of synonyms, alternate spellings and related keywords of your topic. For example, if you re looking for information on dogs, you may also want to search puppies , canines and pets .
Use Different Search Engines
Different search engines function differently. Google and Ask.com are link ranking engines, which mean they consider the relevance and importance of the links that link to a website and the sites the website links to. On the other hand, Yahoo and altavista rank by general content. They look at keywords in metatags and in the webpage s content. Therefore, different search engines provide different results.
Choose a Browser That s Conducive to Research
There are many free internet browser downloads Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera are just a few. Some browsers allow you to add notes, save groups of websites and have integrated search engines that make web research easier and faster. Any of the three listed above are great for web research.
Listed below are a number of free resources to help you with your internet research.
Free Internet Research Resources
For Academic journals, articles and other scholarly content:
Google Scholar http://scholar.google.com/
MSN Live Academic http://academic.live.com/
Resource Discovery Network http://www.rdn.ac.uk/
Google Books Search http://books.google.com/
For a broad search of the Web:
For general information:
msn Encarta http://encarta.msn.com/
To create a works cited page:
Son of Citation Machine http://citationmachine.net/
Student abc http://www.studentabc.com/citation_machine