Advanced Techniques for Effective Research and Writing Resources

For today’s students, research methods are less about libraries and more about what can be found on laptops. A Pew Internet study reveals that 94 percent of teachers find students are most likely to use Google as their primary research tool and three-quarters of teachers witness students turning to Wikipedia for information.

The wealth of Internet information available is both a blessing and curse for student researchers. For every authoritative peer-reviewed journal, there are an equal amount of poorly developed, inaccurate content farms. The same Pew study also found that teacher’s estimate only 40 percent of students can accurately judge the quality of online research information as many are unaware of the benefits of utilizing advanced research techniques to navigate search engines and databases to find the best resources.

Quality Sources Are Everything

Students can find a multitude of websites offering information that may sound good, but offer little in the way of legitimacy. The source of the information can help determine its accuracy, depth and integrity. Wikipedia can be a useful starting point to gather general knowledge on a topic but it tends to go against the research principle of finding primary resources. As a melting pot of secondary information, Wikipedia runs the risk of providing errors.

Blogs can render mixed results of information; while some offer excellent insight and original research data, others are driven by the commercial interest of their associated organizations. For students seeking the best primary resources, consider information from peer-reviewed journals, government agencies, or reputable news publications. Scientific databases offer specialized information on research topics, which can make finding information easier, but may also require students to look elsewhere to expand in an unbiased manner on topics.

Quality Resources to Launch Search Efforts

At the heart of academic-worthy resources, students will find the most accurate, comprehensive information. These resources focus on peer-reviewed studies and government-funded efforts while also seeking to bring public online access to published works found in brick-and-mortar libraries.

Library of Congress

The wealth of quality information offered by the Library of Congress is unparalleled. Its collection based in the nation’s capital provides thousands of resources online for students. The online Library of Congress is an excellent starting point to find book titles for specialized topics. Use the online librarian tool for extra guidance.

Education Resources Information Center (ERIC)

This digital library centers on educational research. Use the Education Resources Information Center database’s advanced search tool to narrow down keywords, publication type and education level to find educational literature from 1966 to present.

PubMed

PubMed is provided by the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. It gives access to millions of full-text articles as well as abstracts by NIH-funded projects and other free content. Topics archived in PubMed focus on the biomedical field.

BioMed Central

Another excellent resource for peer-reviewed information on life sciences is BioMed Central. This publisher provides free access to all articles. Journals featured in BioMed Central are categorized to help researchers better determine the primary source of the information.

Scirus

Using a simplistic interface, Scirus is a research database offering advanced search options that enable resource arrangement by publication date, information type, file format, journal source and subject matter. Scirus combs through half a billion online scientific resources to find scholarly articles and reports.

Using Google for Good

While it’s easy to find poor research at the top of Google’s search results, students can use a few techniques to weed out the bad and allow specialized, authoritative resources to rise to the top.

Employing Google search operators is like a keyboard shortcut to advanced search results:

  • ::  A tilde (~) in front of a word will render a search for common synonyms.
  • ::  An asterisk (*) enables Google to fill in the blank for an unknown, tip-of-the-tongue word.
  • ::  Quotation marks allow the search for an exact phrase, which can be convenient to find a study title.

Google Scholar operates like a database that pulls specialized literature from their main engine to provide bibliographical information and links to peer-reviewed research. The database also shows how frequently users have cited an article. Scholar does not guarantee access to articles on research topics that are subscription-based. However, Google Scholar conveniently offers advanced search options based on publication date and shows related articles to further enhance research.

Writing Resources:

Applying the APA writing style to your written assignments.

APA Style Guide Website     http://www.apastyle.org/
APA Style Tutorialhttp://flash1r.apa.org/apastyle/basics/index.htm
6th Edition Tutorialhttp://flash1r.apa.org/apastyle/whatsnew/index.htm

Useful Videos:

For students using Online Utica courses to expand their knowledge and increase their marketability in their chosen fields, effective research is a necessary building block for success. Let the credentialed instructors of Utica College’s employer-trusted programs demonstrate how advanced research techniques can positively impact students’ futures.