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5 of the Best Sites for Finding Academic Research

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jun 11, 2014 9:47:23 AM

academic_researchThe academic year is winding down for most of us, but my students still haven’t turned in their final research papers yet—and many of them are still gathering their sources! In addition to using the books and academic journals our school subscribes to, here are five of what I consider to be the best sites for finding academic research.

5 of the Best Sites for Finding Academic Research

Google books is bursting at the seams with millions (yes, MILLIONS) of books and magazines that Google has scanned, converted to text and stored in its digital database just for you, dear reader. Although those tricky little guys at Google have wisely omitted several pages from the book to encourage you to purchase it, you can still view large sections of the book and use it as a source.

iSEEK Educationis an academic research engine specifically designed for students, teachers, and administrators. Here are some of iSeek’s perks:

  • It’s safe: Every resource you’ll find through iSeek is editor-reviewed
  • It’s reliable: Search hundreds of thousands of trusted resources from universities, government, and noncommercial providers
  • It’s a time-saver: Register to bookmark any URL for storage in your own online library

RefSeek is still in public beta, but I’ve had a lot of luck with this search engine. RefSeek gives students access to more than 1 billion documents, web pages, books, journals, and newspapers. What I really appreciate about the site is how clean the interface is—no ads, sponsored links or commercial results appear when you use RefSeek.

Virtual Learning Resource Center doesn’t omit Google ads, but unlike searches done directly in Google, Virtual LRC conducts its searches on a much smaller scale, using only academic websites previously recommended by teachers and librarians.

Academic Index is another useful search engine that bypasses all the junk you’ll encounter with a Google search, directing users to only those websites previously selected by librarians and teachers.

Photo credit: suttonhoo / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


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Tags: research strategies, web research, writing skills, writing a thesis statement

How to teach students to be critical consumers of information.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Feb 16, 2012 1:22:00 PM

Marygrove MAT covers a few important reasons why students need to be taught how to conduct Internet Research.The Information Revolution has given students immediate access to a vast collection of data. Now, simple key word searches return thousands of potential sources. Gone are the days when an astute librarian would teach students how to research printed media. We need to provide students with the skills to become critical consumers of Internet information. Right now.

Water flows through the easiest course. Students doing Internet research will most likely default to the simplest search method – they will open the first information returned on the list. Search engines will display data chronologically, or based on key word/subject relevance. But students must learn that someone else’s relevance or ‘most recent’ does not necessarily apply to their subject. Choice number 3,123 may be much more relevant to them than choice number one.

Who wrote it? Students must consider authorship, especially from Internet sources. Printed media is costly to produce and typically undergoes editorial quality control. However, information pulled from Internet sources does not necessarily receive the same review. We need to help students ‘validate’ information across several sources. Students should also be taught to recognize ‘primary sources’ with firsthand experience of the subject.

What was the author’s purpose for sharing? Perhaps the most important skill to teach students is how to recognize bias. Often, a reader’s opinion may be shaped by the presentation. The same facts can evoke many different perceptions. The author’s bias can be as important as the factual data presented. It is a key element of any message.

When was it written? Unless a student is researching a current event, ‘recent’ should not imply ‘relevant.’ The authoritative source may be many years old, and opinions, as well as inherent bias may change with time. Recognition and articulation of these sometimes-subtle shifts will separate your pupils from your scholars.

Wiki what? Data presented in a nonsubscriber clearinghouse does have value and should be considered. But information presented from these sources should never be accepted at face value. These sites provide a quick means to find out about most subjects, however authorship and validity are sometimes difficult to determine.

Teaching students to use technology is important. Teaching them what to do with the information that they discover is an educational imperative. The ability to assess web credibility and understand basic information architecture is an essential skill set for the 21st Century.

Margaret Reed earned an MAEd from Michigan State University and taught middle and high school history for 10 years. She has been a Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching Mentor since 2009. As an outgrowth of her work in curriculum development at the secondary level, Margaret is pursuing further graduate studies with the goal of commencing a second career in instructional technology design.



Tags: e-learning, web research, digital tools that empower students

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