Back in the pre-internet days people would conduct research by consulting books, performing live experiments, or attending lectures and events. Libraries served as a centralized gathering of the minds; these days the internet has taken its place with everything from games to movies to academic literature in one place.
Despite the convenience of the cloud, knowing what tools are available is critical to carrying out comprehensive and efficient research. Here are 9 cloud resources essential for going just that.
9. Online Newspapers Archives
There’s no arguing that paper-based reading in general has drastically declined with the advent of the internet, with virtually any book, newspaper, and journal available in digital form. There are, however, instances when you need specialized resources for finding historical articles previously only available in physical form. The following are some free cloud resources for finding these more obscure news items. Think of these as virtual microfiches:
- Elephind – over 149 million newspaper pages and articles from various countries
- Library of Congress – Chronicling America – over 10.5 million pages from 43 states
- Google News Archive – over 2,500 newspapers
- Old Fulton NY Post Cards – over 34 million pages from New York and other states’ historical newspapers
- Trove – over 195 million articles from Australia
If you are looking for published medical literature then PubMed is the best resource for you: it not only houses information on a vast variety of research topics, but it’s also completely free.
Google Scholar allows you to search about different topics from previous years; search results are displayed alongside relevant academic articles and books.
6. Online Encyclopedias
Traditional encyclopedias like Britannica and The World Book are now available online, but specialized online encyclopedias can often yield more targeted results. Here are a few online encyclopedias useful when conducting specialized research:
- Encyclopedia of Life – a comprehensive database of living organisms
- Encyclopedia of Symbols – 2,500 western signs and ideograms organized by graphical characteristics
- Medline Medical Encyclopedia (by ADAM) – a database of diseases, symptoms, injuries, and more with photographs, diagrams, and illustrations.
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – an encyclopedia of philosophical work from scholars all around the world
- Scholarpedia – a peer-reviewed open encyclopedia written by scholars from around the world
This encyclopedic resource deserves a call-out of its own for its voluminous 80,000 entries, all math-related. So if you’re researching the backstory on the Pythagorean Theorem, this may be just the resource for you.
NASA’s website is a vast resource topics space-related topics like astronomy, outer space, planetary exploration, and everything in between. If you are a student of astronomy, space studies, or aerospace sciences, there’s likely no better way to acquire research information than getting it firsthand from NASA.
3. Wikipedia-like Websites
You may have heard of Wikipedia, but probably not the handful of specialized public wikis like WikiQuote or Wikiversity. These resources often provide more in-depth research and information than their larger counterpart.
2. Digital History Websites (U.S.)
If you are a student of U.S. history and need information regarding the history of politics, film, television, science, or technology, these interactive textbooks may fulfill your needs:
- Digital History: UH – a resource provided by the University of Houston
- DHR: Digital History Reader – U.S. history organized by modules
1. Internet Public Library
Last but not least, your good ‘ol friendly public library has also made the leap to digitization. Chances are that many of the resources you require for conducting research are available on your local branch’s website. This is especially handy when conducting research on local geographic regions or interests.
Books may be going the way of the dinosaur, but that doesn’t mean they’re lost forever; on the contrary, they can now be more easily indexed, searched, cited, and referenced than ever before with a quick click or swipe.