Writing Resources and Research Guide
Doing research on the Internet can be intimidating--you might type a term on a search engine's screen and retrieve 200,000 documents. With so many options, where do you begin? You could skim the first two or three pages of sources and choose one or two that seem to fit your purpose. However, with this approach you risk finding and using unreliable sources of information. A list generated by a search engine includes excellent, mediocre, and poor sources mixed together.
One way to become more adept at Internet research is to explore a few recommended sites. This guide is an annotated collection of over 40 Internet sites and documents that would be helpful to college students doing research papers. The guide was designed to help you in two ways: to introduce you to some useful, interesting Internet sites, and to give you access to articles about evaluating Internet sources so you can learn to think critically about information you find.
You can go directly to the sites from links in this guide. The guide contains the following categories:
- Evaluating Sources
- General Research
- News Media
- Online Libraries
- Reference Tools
- Search Engines
- Writing Guides
Before you use a search engine to find information on the Internet, read these articles on evaluating sources to help you decide whether an interesting site is really a reliable one.
- Evaluating information found on the Internet This is an excellent guide written by librarian Elizabeth Kirk of the Milton Eisenhower Library at the Johns Hopkins University. The article will introduce you to six important principles for evaluating sources and explain why critical judgment is especially important with Internet sites.
- Practical Steps in Evaluating Internet Resources This guide, also written by Elizabeth Kirk at Johns Hopkins University, discusses three criteria for evaluating information and how you can apply them to Internet sites.
- Evaluating Quality on the Net Written by librarian Hope Tillman of Babson College, this document is a comprehensive guide to evaluating Internet sources. It includes reviews of search engines and databases.
- Understanding and decoding URLs This explanation of the components of a URL (electronic address) will introduce you to common abbreviations and symbols used in electronic addresses. This knowledge can help you evaluate sources you find through search engines.
- The American Psychological Association This large, well-organized site is a good place to look for abstracts from psychology journals. Some complete journal articles are available, and the site also contains many articles on psychological research written for the general public.
- Scientific American This site includes articles from the 1996 to 1999 issues of Scientific American .
- The Smithsonian This enormous site provides access to all of the museums and research centers affiliated with the Smithsonian.
- American Government and History
- Legislative Information This site provides detailed information about every member of Congress, including voting records. It also provides the Congressional Record and important documents such as the Constitution .
- Library of Congress The American Memory section of this site contains primary source material in various media.
- International Agencies
- United Nations This site provides information about the United Nations and its activities and important U.N. documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- World Health Organization The World Health Organization site provides information about its projects as well as health information about various regions of the world.
- U.S. Census Bureau The United States Census Bureau site provides a wealth of information on various aspects of the American population. While some of the information is in the form of numerical tables, other information is presented in paragraph form. The alphabetical list of topics is a good place to start.
- Fedstats This site provides access to statistical information collected by over 70 federal agencies. When you retrieve a document through this site's search engine, the agency producing the document is clearly identified.
Controversial issues are often discussed from a liberal or conservative slant. To get a more balanced view of an issue, see how it is presented from more than one viewpoint. When reading articles from these sites, remember that they may be one-sided.
- Electronic Policy Network The Electronic Policy Network provides access (through links and a search engine) to many organizations with a liberal perspective.
- Town Hall Town Hall enables you to search and link to various conservative organizations.
- Project Bartleby Archive This site at Columbia University contains the full texts of many literary classics.
- The On-Line Books Page This site at Carnegie Mellon University indexes books that are available in full-text form on the Internet.
- Literature @ SunSITE Part of an electronic library at the University of California at Berkeley, this collection includes novels, essays, and short stories by many authors.
- Baltimore Sun This site is frequently updated and has free archives for the past two weeks. Baltimore Sun articles back to 1990 are available. You can search the archives for no cost, but there is a $1.95 charge per article if you want to read or print the entire article.
- Christian Science Monitor The Christian Science Monitor site no longer provides free archives, but its archives are extensive, going back to 1980. Each full article costs $1.50.
- National Public Radio Although you need RealAudio or NetShow to have full use of this site, some printed information is available. Some topics are archived. Live broadcasts of important events, such as the State of the Union Address, are carried.
- New York Times The New York Times site contains archives of the past year's articles. Each full article retrieved from the archives costs $2.50. The "Breaking News from A.P." section is updated every few minutes.
- Washington Post This site, updated many times each day, is enhanced by many links within news stories that enable you to read more detailed information about topics of interest. Washington Post articles for the past two weeks are accessible for no charge. Archives back to 1986 are available, with the cost per article ranging from $1.50 to $2.95, depending on the time of day.
- INFOMINE Scholarly Internet Resource Collections This site, maintained by the University of California at Riverside, is a guide to online information for college-level researchers.
- The Internet Public Library The Internet Public Library is a project of the University of Michigan library school. The Internet Public Library provides access to newspapers, magazines, and other sources available online.
- The WWW Virtual Library This collection is accessed through an alphabetical subject index. Each subject collection is overseen by an expert in that field.
- WWWebster (TM) Dictionary Based on Merriam Webster's Collegiate (R) Dictionary, Tenth Edition, this site provides online dictionary and thesaurus access.
- Roget's Thesaurus This online version of Roget's Thesaurus is based on the 1911 version.
- Britannica Online This is a fee-based site offering 66,000 articles. If you are currently using a goucher.edu account, you can get into this site for no charge. If you are not using a goucher.edu account, you can sign up for a free 7-day subscription to Britannica Online.
- About Search Engines
- Information Retrieval and the Internet This explanation will help you understand how search engines work.
- How to Search the Web: A Guide to Search Tools This guide will help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of various search engines and give you some tips about using search engines effectively.
- Selected Search Engines
- Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. The 1918 version of this classic is available online; links within the text provide easy access to various topics.
- College Writing Center and Online Writing Lab (OWL) Sites
Many colleges and universities have excellent Writing Center sites. All of the sites listed below provide articles on various aspects of writing. Topics include common grammar problems, style, transitions, effective use of sources, documentation, and many others. Purdue's site is the most extensive, offering 130 articles.
- Documenting Internet Sources