Getting Essential Information from Online Sources Help
Introduction to Online Sources
The Internet, like any library, offers a wealth of different resources. What makes the Internet so uniquely appealing is that you don't have to leave the privacy of your desk to access materials from all over the world. In other words, rather than having to go to a library or other institution to seek out and investigate your sources, the Internet brings them to you. You should know that some Internet sites and search engines are better than others. This lesson will teach you the most convenient and efficient methods for using the Internet.
For many people, using the Internet is the most convenient method of gathering information, and although your task can be as simple as pressing a button, it is important to understand how the Internet and the World Wide Web work. The Internet, for the most part, functions on the same principles as a library or any other institution.
Refining Your Search on the Internet
Again, as you did when you were using a library or other institution, the more you can narrow down your topic and your list of questions, the easier it is to find specific material on the Internet that will be important to your research. As you refine your search, you can also skim and choose from a wide selection of different search engines—some of them arranged by topic matter. The 5 W's that you used to narrow down your paper topic will also help you here. For example, let's say that you are researching the variety of modern dance classes that are offered in New York City. If your topic were comparing different contemporary dance classes to distinctive styles of various choreographers, you could find a comprehensive listing of sites and a basis for information by typing:
"Modern dance classes" + "New York City"
Or, if you are researching President Kennedy's assassination and you want to check all the available American history information in New York City, you would type:
"American History Archives" + "New York City"
By placing quotation marks around the particular phrase you are searching for, you will be able to narrow down your search further.
University and Other Institutional Search Engines
In addition to logging on at home, you can usually get permission to log on to most university search engines and the search engines of other specialized institutions, such as historical societies or museums. Public library Internet facilities are free. However, in order to have the privilege of using a university or institution's resources, you need to log on directly from the university or the special institution. Often, you may have to pay a small fee or make an arrangement with the staff beforehand. Nonetheless, if you can arrange to have this privilege, it's more than worth it. Using a university or specialized institutional search engine allows you to preview in-depth, academic sources that are grouped by subject matter according to precise topics. These sites provide highly detailed information rather than the broad base of generalized knowledge that you can get from the websites listed previously. Many times, university websites and private collections provide abstracts or a summary of articles on a particular topic as well as the material itself. In addition, university websites often include a reference number that allows you to order the microfiche or printed version of an article available in their collection.
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