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Research Planning Guide

Use this guide to learn about the research process and plan your research project.

Step 8: Find Other Resources

Sometimes professors will allow you to use reliable web sites or other sources in addition to the books and articles supplied by the library.  Be sure to check with your professor first to make sure this will be OK! 

Internet research can be interesting and exciting, but you need to be careful.  Make sure that the sources you use are suitable for a college-level assignment. 

Research Starters

Here are some great sites to help you launch your academic internet research:

Google Scholar - separate from regular Google, Scholar is devoted to scholarly literature: books, articles, academic websites, journals, conference papers and proceedings, and much more.  

Internet Public Library - vetted by librarians, the sites listed in this resource are organized by subject trees for hierarchical browsing as well as direct searching. Since its beginnings in 1995, the IPL has been reviewing websites for academic content and reliability, and collecting links into easy-to-use categories covering every subject under the sun.

Directory of Open Access Journals and Directory of Open Access Books offer the opportunity to search the contents of academic journals and books that are freely available on the web.  These sites are an important part of the ongoing "open access" movement in academia.  

BASE - also devoted to open-access academic journal sources. Most of these come from university electronic repositories, providing searchable access to resources that are otherwise unavailable through search engines like Google and Bing.  

CiteSeerX - another source devoted to open-access journals, CiteSeerX specializes in scientific journals and other resources.  

MERLOT - (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) provides access to content collections, media resources, open access books and articles, and even online courses.  Resources in this collection have been selected specifically for use in higher education.  

RefDesk - "the fact checker for the Internet," RefDesk is known as the single best internet source for facts.  This site is a compendium of reference sources, such as dictionaries and encyclopedias, news sources, "daily diversions," weather resources, and much more.  

BIO - formerly known as Biography.com, this site presents biographical information about well-known historical and cultural figures, newsmakers, and popular celebrities.  

Wolfram Alpha - billed as a "computational knowledge engine," Wolfram Alpha can solve mathematical equations, search dates in history, provide chemical formulas, and lots more.  Put in your birthday to find out how many days or weeks you've been alive, and discover what happened on that day in history (besides your illustrious birth!)

The Web VS. The Databases

Web Sites

Library Databases

Free – MOST of the time; some sites may eventually ask you to sign up or pay for access, especially to scholarly materials

Free to you – Databases require very expensive subscriptions, but these are paid for with your tuition dollars so they're free to all DBU students

Broad results – Popular sources for the general public; sometimes scholarly

Broad OR focused results – Popular AND scholarly

Format – Text, images, audio, video.

Format – Mostly text, but some databases also provide audio, video, and images.

Changeable – Sites disappear, change addresses, relocate to new domains

Stable – Content is archived and remains available and permanent

Searching - Not efficient; subject to advertising; paid results display first 

Searching - Efficient and organized; advanced search techniques built in