Tuesday, September 09, 2008

How to Do Graduate-Level Research on the Internet...

The start of a new semester always means renewed hope for students and more oncoming dismay for professors who have to read poorly researched research papers. Google has become so prolific for students that is can basically be credited as the only source in many bibliographies. For the record, that's not a good thing!

So in an attempt at being constructive, here are a few ideas for performing respectable academic research on the internet...

  1. JStor - Hands down, the number one place to begin your research online. Its a collection of millions of scholarly articles published in academic journals, and is ideal for graduate students, in particular. The only downside, IMHO, is that you have to be affiliated with an educational institution or else you'll have to pay for access. Here's to hoping they'll change that policy one day and open up the vaults to everyone.

  2. LexisNexis - After you've run through academic journal articles in JStor, take a look at LexisNexis, which is a gigantic database of newspapers, and magazines, and is most heavily used by undergraduates. Here, too, you need to be affiliated with an institution that pays a subscription fee.

  3. Format for Citing Online Sources - Anyone who did the majority of their schooling before Y2K probably never had to pay much attention to the correct way of citing various websites and other forms of electronic communication. But these days it's a must. This link provides examples for how to cite everything from basic websites to discussion board posts to blog comments to email interviews.

That should offer you at least a starting point for how to do academic research on the internet. Trust me, there is no bigger pet peeve for professors than students who simply Google to find all of their sources, inevitably leading to some quote of an 8th-grader's blog on political elections.


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