The following is a guest post written by Lesley Vos, a private educator for high school students from Chicago and a passionate blogger. She writes on topics of education, college life, academic research and writing, etc. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.
A standard feature of every college student’s life is the academic research. Does it play the same important role when it comes to online education?
No matter what your education is, you won’t be able to avoid research projects. You will need to find the information anyway, choose the best ways to find it, know how to evaluate and manage this info, and decide whether to use it for your projects or not.
According to statistics, e-Learning becomes more and more popular among students both in the USA and the world in general:
- About $56 billion had been spent on e-Learning industry in 2014;
- About 46% of college students take at least one online course;
- 90% less energy is consumed by e-Learning, what makes it Eco-friendly;
- 72% of companies state that e-Learning helps their employees keep up-to-date with all changes within their industry;
- Many educators call e-Learning one of 48 most perspective ideas to improve the US education system.
When it comes to academic research for e-Learning students, they must know where to search efficiently and make decisions regarding the quality of information; learners need to know how to search and who has rights to the information they are going to use for their research.
Research skills are key, and here you’ll find out how to build them quickly and effectively. To use some good guide to online research would be a good practice, too.
Steps to follow for better research
They will help you find and organize the information you need for academic research.
- Always have a research question in mind, and work toward an answer to this particular question.
- Schedule your work. For example, promise to accomplish something by a specific date (to find 20 resources, to finish the first chapter, etc.).
- Ask for help. Online communities, social media groups, libraries – they all welcome your questions and exist to help you with research. Don’t be afraid of asking: their members may help you find good resources for your research, answer some exact questions, make some points for you to use in your work, etc.
- Always pay attention to dates. Yes, sometimes it’s ok to use older material but it may also happen that your data isn’t up to date; it all depends on your topic: some fields are constantly updating, and you should be very careful while choosing the publications to refer.
- Learn how to use Google and Wikipedia Most e-Learning students consider these two resources the best and most informative ones to use for research. Yes, it’s true; but make sure you know and use ALL tricks they provide for your better research.
- Avoid citing Wikipedia. This online resource is a great place to start your research and find more links to explore. Wikipedia will give you a good overview of your subject and help you gather many sources for its better and deeper research. But do not consider this online encyclopedia your #1 resource to rely on.
- One piece at a time. Do not try to cover all questions at once: outline the things you need to understand and cover in your work, deal with each piece separately, and find the connection between them when you write a draft.
- Keep a pen and a notebook with you. Yes, you are an e-Learning student and you do all research online; but ideas and sudden revelations may hit you anytime – at the supermarket, in bed, in parks while walking… Write them down and transfer them into your research as soon as you can.
- Don’t forget about bibliographies. When you check some article, essay, or academic book on your topic there will always be the list of hundreds of sources you can mine and use if they are relevant to your research.
- Don’t believe the first source you see online. We all know the Internet is full of wrong facts and lie, especially when it comes to quotes. If you are going to use some quote or fact in your research, make sure it’s relevant and tied to its source.
Where to find the right data for your research
The Internet is a very good research library to use for your e-Learning projects; it provides a wealth of useful info to write a great research paper. As well as any other library, it has both good and bad “books” to read; so, if you do not want to get lost in this informative ocean – save this list of good quality online resources to use and find data for your research.
- A Research Guide – the website where you’ll find straightforward information regarding research papers: read the instructions on how to do different types of research, check links on latest updates to style guides, learn how to write a bibliography and format your papers right, etc.
- Project Muse – the website for those students who work on humanities research. Here you’ll find a big collection of scientific journals and e-book from scholarly societies and universities. Choose your topic or keyword to start a search.
- Digital History – the website that provides access to historical documents, newspapers, court documents and publications related to American history. If your research has something in common with this topic, Digital History is your #1 resource to keep in mind.
- Questia – the largest collection of periodicals, books, and magazines. It also provides tools for citations, bookmarking, and highlighting; you’ll find many scholarly and non-fiction texts there.
- Digital Librarian – the website that provides links to the best online bibliographies, encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories, journals, libraries, etc. All of them are placed in alphabetical order, so it’s easy to navigate and find necessary information for your research.
- Internet Public Library – the website that helps you find good resources for your research on different subjects. Search by keywords to find the information or click the field to learn the latest data from the niche.
- Academic Index – the search engine that was created for college students in particular. Teachers and librarians selected the websites for this index, and here you’ll find research guides for many topics, including health, criminal justice, history, and more.
- World Cat – the website where you’ll find items from more than 10,000 libraries. Articles, books, CDs, and DVDs are available here, and you can use this resource to find your closest library.
- Microsoft Academic Search – the website offers more than 30 million publications on different topics. Plus, you’ll find graphics, maps, trends, and paths to find out how different authors are connected.
Online education has its nuances and pitfalls, but it doesn’t free us from academic research. Online research is one of must-have skills for every student today: it’s a key toward your efficient information search, understanding and use; your knowledge and grades will depend on it, too.
Learn the ropes of online research – and you’ll never face this problem again.
Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.