Searching for Information as an Exciting Adventure
Life feels the way we perceive it. Have you ever noticed that the same event, a phrase dropped by someone, or a piece of news can be either positive or negative depending on the way we accept it? It can be violently opposed to and met with hostility or merely taken as a given to look for further solutions. Here is a reality: you are supposed to write a text that is based on research done on the numerous reliable sources to add to its validity and substantiality. You can either see it as a boring search for information in various sources that will sound like something you cannot skip though you would love to, or you can turn it into an adventure. If you see looking for sources as a quest, you will be amazed at how exciting it can be. Looking for treasures has always been a favorite kids’ game; so why not have fun instead of getting bored with doing the things we cannot avoid?
Every game has a set of clear and comprehensive rules. If we have decided to take information search as a game, following the rules is a must to ensure the fair play. The play space seems to be boundless for the participants since the Internet provides an immense amount of information. Watch out! This infinitude is deceptive. There are the zones which a player cannot enter and the resources that cannot be taken without permission. What is the prize?
However complicated the rules may sound, if a player is well aware of them and follows them, he or she will be successful in the search and will have a chance to be a winner in the grade-getting game.
- First and foremost, be attentive and fastidious!
The access to the primary sources has never been as extensive as it is now. Various materials are available on the Internet for reading or downloading from subscription services or free websites. Critical evaluation is a must before taking a letter, photo, document, newspaper article, speech, journal, or any other resource online. Mind that all of those primary sources are interpreted by numerous researchers and you can make use of those findings as well.
- Libraries are the treasuries and conservation areas for your use
Use every opportunity to search for the sources you need using the selection by titles, names of the authors or topic. There are multiple ways to the goal you have set, so choose the most suitable one. Mind that some libraries require login details or subscription fees; thus, you either have to exert extra efforts and look for a key to open a closed door or you have to look for another trusted but free treasury. If you get the access to the full text of the articles or books, you are lucky to be at the next level of the quest.
- Search Engines are Your Smart Helpers
Attempting to locate a certain document you need or researching some narrow topic, you will definitely require the help of a search engine. A hint: if you use a narrow specific word for searching, you will get more relevant information. A general term will lead you to a longer road to the answer you need.
- Evaluate the approach!
Biased or unverified sources of information are the exclusion zone for you. Those sites which use the primary sources without appropriate citing, checking and analyzing should not be used to avoid errors in your writing assignment. A hint: personal websites are less reliable than the ones of governmental (.mil, .gov) or educational (.edu) institutions. Furthermore, mind that there could be numerous traps and setups on your way. For instance, there is no strict control over the country code on the Internet websites, and the .uk or .us can be misused. You play against smart rivals who try to deceive you, but you should be choosy and focused not to be trapped or misled.
An ocean of opinions and inaccurate information will be a challenge for you to choose from and judge the quality of the sources you have found. If you got the skill of evaluating information and judging the credibility of the obtained data, you have high chances of getting the first prize. This skill is one of the most complex ones as it requires critical thinking and special insight. If you can do that, congratulations! You are at the upper level of the game.
The Internet can be your false friend if you do not check the reliability or verifiability of the sources content. If the search engine guides you to the enormous resources provided by Wikipedia, do not be too credulous! Try to keep aloof from the bias, inconsistencies, and false information provided by this extremely popular resource. Let is be like a swampland for you. Do not set your foot there; otherwise, it will be hard to get saved.
Reliable Internet Sources
- American Memory: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html
The project provides full access to the numerous photographs, documents, and manuscripts taken from the Library of Congress.
- Bartleby: http://www.bartleby.com
It is a bulk of free works of both nonfiction and fiction.
- Google Books: http://books.google.com
Numerous literary works are digitized by Google and placed in the public domain to be downloaded, printed, or at least viewed.
- Internet Public Library: http://ipl.org
Being hosted by the School of Information at Drexel University, it supplements the resources provided by the regular libraries.
- Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page
The site gives unlimited access to enormous quantity of e-books for free without any registration.
- THOMAS: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php
Being maintained and updated by the Library of Congress, it is the site for those who need access to resolutions and bills and require information concerning the federal legislature.
- United States Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov/
It is a useful site for those who need the census data and any kind of statistics for their research.
- Virtual Library: http://vlib.org/
Tim Berners-Lee created a useful list of sites for specific fields (engineering, business, law, natural sciences, mathematics, computer science, society, agriculture, arts, etc.) approved by the reputable experts.
Skepticism as a Key to Successful Information Search
The best advice how to be efficient at evaluating information resources is: Keep asking questions!
Who is the author of the text I am going to use?
Is this author reputable in the chosen field?
Is there any bias in the found information?
Does it represent an opinion or a fact?
Can the authenticity and accuracy of the provided data be proved?
Is the information reviewed by any credible organization?
Can the trustworthiness of the source be checked?
Does the source provide current or outdated information?
What is the copyright date?
In case some data seem questionable, it is highly recommended to make extra efforts and double check every single fact or figure. Do not adhere only to magazine or newspaper articles; you can also use various encyclopedias, websites, videos and other resources if they are credible. Question everything and find the truth doing numerous tasks in the framework of the quest that is called education. Good luck to you on your way to victories!