Internet Tools to Assist in Research

I’m not sure how many of our readers conduct their research online but I am fairly net-centric in my approach. Maybe it’s due to my being an external student without physical access to a decent library, or perhaps it’s due to the changing times and the digitization of many fantastic books and, in particular, journals. Anyhow, I thought I’d begin this post in the hope that readers could contribute their experiences etc. relating to how they organise their research, online or off, and what tools they find the most effective.

I’ll get the discussion underway by outlining my favorite online research tool (other than Google, of course).

To begin with, if your living in the Internet Explorer dark ages then my favorite tool will not benefit you one little bit. I dislike IE for numerous reasons, not just because it’s not standards compliant, but because it lacks one of my favorite browser’s features, open source plugins. Firefox is where it’s at people.

Anyhow, on to my favorite tool. Zotero, LINK, is a plugin that sits in your Firefox toolbar that allows you to collate your online research in so many ways that I just can’t explain them all here. It’s not just a bookmark tool, you can save entire pages; comment on these pages, or sections of them; save particular media from particular pages; stores these media files for offline viewing; and it has a very intuitive interface and database system to keep all of your research projects organised, simply.

Zotero’s tag line is ‘research not re-search’ and it surely delivers on this claim.

Do check out Zotero and make your online research that much simpler.

Here’s the link on more time.

Posted by Simon Ives.

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8 Responses to “Internet Tools to Assist in Research”


  1. 1 Nathan December 22, 2007 at 1:16 am

    Genius! You’re a cyberpunk god.

  2. 2 amelo14 December 22, 2007 at 1:40 am

    This is an amazing tool!

  3. 3 Simon December 23, 2007 at 10:43 am

    It is a great tool. Nath, any tips or advice based upon how your research is conducted? Amelo14?

  4. 4 David December 26, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    Zotero will also install and maintain bibliographs in most word processing programs including MSWord. Great for assignments!

  5. 5 Nathan December 27, 2007 at 10:23 am

    I don’t have the same knowledge of technology that Simon does, so this will sound kind of obvious, however… My research includes hours of reading the original text; however, some units that I have undertaken (English) require a certain amount of secondary sources: the best by far is JSTOR, which a fantastic research tool which MQU subscribe to.

    I come to find that mt essays have become more focused just by engaging with the original text, moving away from the confusion of secondary sources. That is not to suggest that one should not read secondary sources, I find more original though will flow from more engagement with primary texts.

  6. 6 Simon December 31, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    JSTOR certainly is a fantastic resource Nath, one I use alot too. There are some other great databases out there too and a quick Google search will shed some light on them for you.

    Also, while on the Google subject, try out Google Scholar – a great tool. (http://scholar.google.com – or something like that) Google Scholar will search many many databases and ‘other’ academic sites that you can access if your intitution subscribes.

    What I do so I don’t have to go through the whole sign-in process every time I visit a database linking from Google Scholar rather than my institution is to make sure the sign-in cookies I have are active. JSTOR’s cookies last for a single day I think (nothing that a little tinkering can’t fix though).

    Google Scholar has some great features, along with Google Books, like links to and lists of other texts that cite the one you’re reading and with a little net savyness you can even detirmine which are the most cited texts for some given key words…great features.

    I don’t know if I am in complete agreement with the primary over and above secondary text issue Nath. Of course an understanding of Primary texts is important however this can be accentuated through the study of relevant secondary texts…how many people read Dreyfus when trying to understand Being and Time?

  7. 7 Nathan January 5, 2008 at 9:32 am

    I can see that I’m going to have to do a course on how to become Internet savvy.

    Just on the issue of primary and secondary sources, I’m going to write a post in the near future on this topic. I think it may be worth discussing.

  8. 8 Simon January 6, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Hehe, I think I may have changed my favorite net tool for research purposes to…BROADBAND!

    I’ve just returned from a short vacation with my family and the only net access we had access to was dial-up, and at only 40K it wasn’t worth the hair loss.

    I’ve got no idea how I ever survived on dial-up alone nor how anyone could possibly research in today’s environment without broadband!


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