Showing posts with label Research Tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Research Tips. Show all posts

Friday, August 6, 2021

Add Google's Ngram Viewer to Your List of Research Tools

Google's Ngram Viewer is a search tool that students can use to explore the use of words and names in books published between 1800 and 2019. The Ngram Viewer shows users a graph illustrating the first appearance of a word or name in literature and the frequency with which that word or name appears in literature since 1800. The graph is based on the books and periodicals that are indexed in Google Books.

The Ngram Viewer will let you compare the use of multiple words or names in one graph. The example that I give in this video is to compare the use of the terms "National Parks," "National Forests," and "National Forest Service." By looking at the Ngram Viewer for those terms I can see that they start to appear more frequently around 1890, have a lull in the 1940s and 1950s, and then appear more frequently again in the 1960s. 

Ngram Viewer is based on books indexed in Google Books. That is why below every graph generated by Ngram Viewer you will find a list of books about each of your search terms. Those books are arranged by date. 

A third component of Ngram Viewer to note is that it works with multiple languages including English, French, Chinese, German, Italian, Russian, Hebrew, and Spanish. 

Applications for Education
As I mentioned in the video above, the Ngram Viewer can provide a good way to start a research activity for students. Have them enter a few words then examine the graph to identify peaks and valleys in the frequency of the words' usage. Then ask them to try to determine what would have caused those words to be used more or less frequently at different periods in history.

By the way, the book that I mentioned in the video is That Wild Country by Mark Kenyon. 

Thursday, August 5, 2021

How to Use Google Scholar to Find Federal and State Court Rulings

Earlier this week I wrote about and published a video about how to use Google Scholar to research inventions and their inventors. Case law research is a third aspect of Google Scholar that can be helpful to student researchers. 

The case law search function in Google Scholar enables you to find Federal and state cases via keyword search. This is helpful if you’re looking for court rulings on a topic but don’t have a specific case in mind. For example, if I’m researching the development of laws pertaining to the New England lobster fisheries I can enter “lobster fishing” into Google Scholar then search for Federal court cases that include my search term and or search for Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island state court cases that include “lobster fishing.” (The sixth New England state, Vermont, is unlikely to have any court cases involving lobster fishing because Vermont doesn’t have any ocean coastline).

Once you’ve found a court case related to your search term in Google Scholar you can read the case online within Google Scholar. Additionally, Google Scholar lists other cases that have cited the ruling that you’re currently reading. That provides an easy way to find related cases about your chosen research topic.

A video overview of how to use Google Scholar to locate federal and state court rulings is available here and as embedded below.

This blog post was written by Richard Byrne and originally appeared on Any appearance of this post on other websites is unauthorized.