Online research tools

Online research tools

USING INTERNET SOURCES IN ACADEMIC INQUIRY Sources: COTTRELL, Stella (2008). The study skills handbook (3 rd ed). New York, Palgrave Macmillan. TALBOT, Christine J. (2007). Studying at a Distance: A Guide for Students (2nd Edition) [electronic resource]. Maidenhead, New York: Open University Press / McGraw Hill. CAUTION IN USING THE INTERNET (I) Is the internet an authoritative source? At present, there is little editing or censoring of publicly available information. Almost anybody can put information on the internet. Before relying on or quoting information found on the internet, it is important that you check

who has provided it, if possible, and try to assess whether or not the source is authoritative. CAUTION IN USING THE INTERNET (II) When were the data entered? Information can become out of date very quickly. Dont assume that if data is accessible on the internet, it must be true and up to date. E.g. if an archiving project has run out of funding to pay workers to update the information, it may have become out of date, even though the archive is still

accessible. NARROWING OR EXTENDING YOUR ONLINE SEARCH (I) Too AND between two keywords many items? The search will produce only those pages that include both of the keywords. Inverted commas ( ) This will narrow down the search and reduce the number of items you find. The search will only list pages where those words appeared together in exactly that form.

NOT This will exclude items from your search. More keywords The more keywords you use, the fewer pages are listed. E.g. a library database search may allow you to specify the authors name, words in the title, the publication date, and so on. NARROWING OR EXTENDING YOUR ONLINE SEARCH (II) Too few items? Use

OR to search for pages that contain one or more of two or more words. The truncation symbol (*) can be used to find variations of a keyword that begin with the set of letters. E.g. crit* would find critic, critical, critique and criticism. Wildcards (?) find variations of a keyword Alternative words: car ? Would search for car plus any other word, and might find used cars, car insurance, etc. Alternative characters: wom?n might find woman and women.

ADVANCED ONLINE SEARCHES Use a more sophisticated search string that uses parentheses ( ) to link operations and to specify their order of precedence. You can continue to use operators, truncations and wildcards E.g. (mice NOT rat) AND (urban OR city OR metropolitan NOT field) E.g. global warming AND (glaciers NOT North) AN EFFICIENT SEARCH STRATEGY IS ONE THAT Finds the most relevant items Does not exclude relevant items Does exclude irrelevant items Is successful in the fewest attempts

ACADEMIC RESOURCES ONLINE Web sources for academic study Electronic searches for books and articles COPAC, the Catalogue for the Consortium of University Research Libraries ( Search over 70 UK & Irish academic national and specialist library catalogues Research focus To find research background on the topic that interests you:

Type in words such as research or journal as well as the subject. Type in names of leading theorists or schools of thought as well as the subject. Conference proceedings and papers are available through the Web of Knowledge at GENERAL HELP SITES AND ACADEMIC SEARCH ENGINES (I) IngentaConnect Access to online journal abstracts and articles Find articles Access

to articles from magazines, journals, trade publications and newspapers Google Scholar Searches on scholarly material such as peerreviewed articles GENERAL HELP SITES AND ACADEMIC SEARCH ENGINES (II) Questia A large online library with a broad selection of complete books and journal articles in the humanities and social sciences

Social science resource databases EVALUATING WEBSITES FOR QUALITY (I) Can you find out who is the author of this website? 1. This could be an individual or a corporate author. Is this information clearly available? Is there an email address available at which you could contact the author? Is there any indication of the designation

or authority of the author? 2. Can you establish their credentials e.g. are they a member of staff in a university department? Is there evidence that their organization supports the information on the web page? Is there a copyright statement or is a disclaimer visible on the page? EVALUATING WEBSITES FOR QUALITY (II) Can you establish the corporate owner of the information? 3. This could be, e.g., a university or a commercial company.

Can you establish this from the URL if it isnt immediately obvious on the page? E.g. Does the URL end with (a UK university), .edu (a university in the US), (an Australian university) or .gov (a governmental organization)? What is your impression of the reliability of the information? 4. On what basis can you form this impression (e.g. from prior knowledge of the subject area, from looking at the bibliography or linked information and so on)? EVALUATING WEBSITES FOR QUALITY (III) How up-to-date is the information? 5.

Is there a date when the document was last modified or updated? What do you think about the way in which the information is structured? 6. Is it easy to find your way around the website? How have graphics been used? Does the text follow basic rules of grammar, spelling and so on?

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