Online Answers for “People Questions”

“When you are in need of a short, comprehensive biography of a famous person, there are many online resources available for consideration,” says Joann M. Wleklinski. In her Online piece Get a Life Comparing Online Biography Resources.

Along with Wikipedia, which she calls “a decent resource for a quick, first-look overview of a subject,” she reviews Biography.com, noting that its “content is for the most part reliable, but hardly comprehensive. It seems that a certain amount of sizzle about a person doesn’t hurt the individual’s being represented, either.” See the article for her assessment of general web search engines Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Read more

Subject vs. Topic

Too often students get papers back from professors with notes such as “Too broad” or “Try to narrow your focus” written on them. Narrowing your focus from a subject to a topic helps prevent you from using too much summary in your paper. Focusing on one topic allows you to fully develop and flush out new ideas of your own.

Narrowing down a subject, which is “broad and general” into a topic or “the specific issue being discussed”  makes it both manageable and arguable, says Laurie Rozakis. In Schaum’s Quick Guide to Writing Great Research Papers 2nd ed., (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007), 23, she suggests this approach for Shaping Your Ideas. Read more

Matters of opinion

Where to look for research perspective

When you need to examine how people are reporting or commenting on different aspects of an issue or situation, these resources – among NoodleTools.com’s valuable guidelines to help Choose the Best Search for Your Information Need – are a great place to start.

Here are NoodleTools’ suggestions for opinion and perspective resources: Read more

Analyze This

How to write a good book review

A book review is “not a retelling,” emphasizes Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC), nor is it “a book report or a summary.” Instead, they explain in How to Write a Book Review, it is “a description, critical analysis, and an evaluation on the quality, meaning, and significance of a book, not a retelling. It should focus on the book’s purpose, content, and authority. Read more

Take Searches Up a Notch

Traditional search methods don’t always work effectively. When you’re disappointed with the results you’re getting, Barbara G. Friedman, author of Web Search Savvy: Strategies and Shortcuts for Online Research (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005), 60, suggests trying some of the alternative approaches in her checklist of Tips for Smart Searchers. Read more

Get Real

“Working with primary sources is like detective work – leads must be followed, motives evaluated and stories matched for consistency,” says Leslie F. Stebbins. In the book Student Guide to Research in the Digital Age: How to Locate and Evaluate Information Sources (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006), 79, Stebbins offers some strategies you can use to analyze primary sources. Read more

Get Fast, Accurate Results with Exact Phrases

“Searching for phrases” notes Living Internet “is one of the fastest ways to narrow down results” Their article Search for Phrases, explains how to use this technique.

You can specify a phrase on most search engines by placing it in double quotes. Because they are a form of unique identifier, phrases are very useful at filtering search results to just pages that contain that exact, specific string of characters. Read more

Line It Up

“A working outline,” says the University of Victoria Department of English, can provide you “with a rough map of where the essay will go, making a diagram of your thoughts to sharpen and define your purpose.” The UVic Writer’s Guide explains how to create one in “The Structure of the Essay Outline:”

The beginning is the introduction containing your thesis statement; the end is the conclusion; and the middle or body of the essay contains the argument, supported by evidence or example and designed to prove your thesis. Read more

Clutter-free Writing

David R. Williams advocates applying the K.I.S.S. principle (“Keep it simple, Stupid.”) to writing. In his book Sin Boldly! Dr. Dave’s Guide to Writing the College Paper (Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2000), 9, he explains, ” ‘Simple’ does not have to mean simpleminded. Keeping it simple means avoiding the complexity of too many competing, confusing factors. This applies to choosing a paper topic as well as writing a sentence or running a business.” Read more

Search Engines You Should (But Probably Don’t) Know

“Ask anyone which search engine they use to find information on the Internet and they will almost certainly reply: ‘Google,’” says Charles S. Knight, Search Engine Optimizer and editor of AllSearchEngines. “Look a little further, and market research shows that people actually use four main search engines for 99.99% of their searches: Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and Ask.com (in that order). But in my travels as a Search Engine Optimizer (SEO), I have discovered that in that .01% lies a vast multitude of the most innovative and creative search engines you have never seen. So many, in fact, that I have had to limit my list of the very best ones to a mere 100.” Read more