In addition to online databases and government websites, you have access to many additional online resources. As with any source, anything obtained from an online resource should go through an evaluation process using evaluation criteria that help you determine the validity of a source.
The following list of online resources can yield helpful and informative research sources as you work through the research writing process.
Electronic books and text (eBooks and eTexts) are available in many places throughout the internet, including the following locations:
These are just a few research sources for electronic books and texts, including historical documents, essays and poems. Your school or local library likely has its own collection or access to additional paid subscriptions to eBooks and eTexts.
Image databases offer digital images of a vast array of different subjects, from art and maps to medical-related images and more. Incorporating images into your research paper is an easy way to provide a visual aid. A few free-to-access digital image databases include the following:
Most libraries have their catalogs online, and these are excellent research sources when you are looking for information on a topic or for specific research. Check with your local and school library if you are unsure of how to access an online library catalog. In addition to providing a link to online catalogs right on their websites, many libraries also have information about their sources in large, online databases, such as WorldCat.
Research guides by subject are another valuable online resource put together by many libraries, and many are accessible online to anyone. Some research guides may have restricted access to library members or students of a college or university. These guides provide an overview of resources in a large number of specific subject areas and are great tools for guiding your research or narrowing a research paper topic. For an example of an online research guide by subject, visit the University of Chicago Library’s guide.
Reference sources are another research source that is widely available online. From dictionaries to encyclopedias and almanacs, many traditional sources of information have an online presence and free access to full-text information. A few examples include the following sites:
These are just a few examples; there are many more free reference sources available online. While these resources may not be something you cite or quote in your research paper, they can serve as research and topic guides.
These five additional online sources of information can help shape your research paper and provide valuable information, but they are representative of a growing number of electronic resources available online. For more types of online resources or additional sites that fall under the five sources presented here, use search engines or web directories to point yourself in the right direction.