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Check Out These Proven Ways to Find Sources for Any Research Project
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Check Out These Proven Ways to Find Sources for Any Research Project

Check Out These Proven Ways to Find Sources for Any Research Project – Whether you’re a student or simply someone who wants to delve deeper into a topic, finding sources for your research is a must. The problem is that it can be difficult to know just where to look. In the old days if you wanted to research a topic your only options were to pull out the old Encyclopedia Britannica or head to a library. Although both methods of doing research are still valid, there are other ways for people to find information on topics of interest.

Public Libraries

Probably the best thing about a public library for research is that they’re public, so they’re open to anyone. What’s not so great about public libraries is that the quality of their collections varies by location. By this, I simply mean that you won’t be able to find the same breadth of information in a library in South Bend, Indiana as you would in Chicago. Still, any public library is great if you have no other resources. They can also point you in the direction you need to go to obtain better information.

Institutions of Higher Libraries

College and university libraries are probably the gold standard for obtaining information about a topic. But similar to public libraries, the breadth of information can vary depending on the college or university. In addition, some colleges and universities restrict access to their libraries to their students. But if you live next to a college that allows the public to access its collections, make sure you take advantage because you’ve found an excellent resource.

The Internet

Although you don’t want to conduct all your research from home, it is a good start because the internet is a wealth of information. Even if you’re unable to gain access to a college library, you may be able to search their collections online. This could provide you with many relevant sources. The challenge would be in obtaining the information if you don’t live close to the library or if you’re not permitted access.

In this case, you’d have to get more creative. Fortunately, public libraries allow interlibrary loans across the United States. Chances are there’s a public library near you.

Newspapers

Newspapers are also a great resource for anyone doing research. Most newspapers have an archive that can be searched online. What’s great about using newspapers in research is that you know you’re getting authoritative information due to the journalistic integrity of American newspapers. Another benefit is that you’re able to hear from people directly through quotes. Also, practically every small town in the country has a newspaper, so you’re pretty much guaranteed a local take on whatever issue you’re researching.

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is technically the research library of the United States Congress. But anyone has access to its collections via the internet no matter where they’re located. The library was founded in 1800, which makes it the oldest federal cultural institution in the U.S. And with more than 170 million items, it’s the largest library in the world. Anyone lucky enough to live in the D.C. area who’s 16 and older actually has access to the collections.

Usenet

If you really want to think outside the box, consider conducting some of your research through Usenet. You may have never even heard of Usenet, but it’s been around for decades and is similar to the web with discussion groups, bulletin boards, and forums. What’s great about Usenet is that if you’re trying to find out how certain people felt about certain situations at a certain time, it can serve as an archive of sorts, giving you insight into the zeitgeist.

The best way to access Usenet is through a service provider. Check it out if you’re looking for a slightly different take on things.

Wikipedia? Well…

Most people reading this are descendants of the fast-food generation, which began in 1946 with the Baby Boomers. Today, everyone wants things fast and efficiently. And this is what Wikipedia provides. Wikipedia is a free, online, collaborative encyclopedia. It provides information on probably most topics you’d be interested in.

The problem with Wikipedia is that the information it provides is abbreviated, so you’re not getting the breadth of information you would from other sources. On the positive side, Wikipedia would probably provide you with some of the building blocks needed to do further research.

Putting It All Together

Whether you’re a student or someone else doing research on a topic, there are many avenues available to you. Although you’ll likely start your research online you won’t want to end it there. By visiting libraries, you may be able to access collections that you’re unable to view or find online. Research can actually be a fun endeavor as you learn new things about a topic, so enjoy the process.

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