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Monday, September 28, 2015

5 Research Tools Students Often Overlook

When they're given a research assignment most students immediately turn to Google to start their research. Unfortunately, many students don't recognize that they are limiting their research efforts by not going beyond Google.com to search. Here are five research tools that I introduce to students to get them to go beyond using Google.com.

1. School librarian and library resources. 
Every school librarian that I know is happy to help students learn to become better researchers. Introduce your students to your school's librarian. Set up time with him or her to show your students some of the many resources available through your school's library. Some of those resources will include access to databases that students cannot access without log-in credentials provided through the library. The Maine State Library's MARVEL database is an example of a database that students wouldn't know about or use without the guidance of school librarian.

2. Wolfram Alpha.
Wolfram Alpha is known for its mathematics functions, but it also has a ton of information to offer on all kinds of topics from socioeconomic data to history to food to chemistry. Students can use Wolfram Alpha to find concise summaries of topics or use it to dive into in-depth databases. The short video embedded below (admittedly, a bit dated now) provides students with a short explanation of what makes Wolfram Alpha search different from Google search.



3. Google Books.
Google Books can be a good research tool for students if they are aware of it and know how to use it. In the video below I provide a short overview of how to use Google Books for research. You can also find screenshots of the process here.



4. Google Scholar:
Google Scholar, like Google Books, is one of the research tools that students often overlook when searching on the web. Google Scholar can be an excellent place for high school and college students to find peer-reviewed academic papers, journals, theses, books, and court opinions. In the video below I demonstrate how to create a library of resources in Google Scholar as well as how to create Google Scholar Alerts that will notify you when new content related to your research appears in Google Scholar.



5. Duck Duck Go.
Duck Duck Go is a search engine that doesn't track your search history or the webpages that you visit. This can make a difference in what students see when they search on Duck Duck Go compared to when they do the same searches on Google, Yahoo, or Bing which may be influenced by their search histories.