To find out more about the topic that you decided to pursue in your research paper, a good review of literature will help you narrow it down as well as point out the gaps in knowledge. The internet offers a lot of free information sparing you the added burden of spending too much on paid subscriptions to access articles in a scientific journal.
Here are common types of online sources that beginning and veteran researchers alike use in strengthening the arguments of their research paper.
1. Government websites
Government websites provide information for the benefit of the general public. Therefore, those tasked to publish information in government websites make sure that the information is truthful to avoid misleading the public. Government sites are good sources of information on demographics, legal matters, business, among others.
2. Academic sites
Websites with.edu attached to it means that these are websites of colleges or universities. Since schools are meant to educate, various checks are made to ensure that the information provided to the public is reliable.
Large university websites usually issue newsletters that highlight new research findings and current research trends. These are good leads that will show you which areas have not been explored yet.
3. Free scientific journals
There are many free scientific journals online. Make full use of them. You can start off with open access scientific journals found in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
Just type your keyword in the search box of doaj.org and voila, you have a list of articles or journals at your fingertips to choose from. Abstracts or full research papers can be downloaded to boost your reference collection.
4. Non-government organizations’ websites
Non-profit organizations or non-government organizations are also good sources of information. A good way to assess the quality of information in these sites is to see how long they have been existing. You can also discern the quality of posts by reading articles from the website and verifying the sources. If it is full of grammatical errors and there are claims that are without basis, chances are, those sites are not legitimate or are poor sources of information. Choose those which are well-edited and apolitical in nature.
5. Free online courses
Enrolling in free online courses will give you the opportunity to review literature especially when the topic touches on theories or research findings that back up recommended practices. For example, an online course on physical activity for health recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This recommendation is substantiated by a critical review of studies conducted by many authors on the health benefits of exercise.
6. Use encyclopedic sources like Wikipedia
There are researchers who avoid citing Wikipedia because it is largely user-generated and thus generally unreliable. While there may be wisdom in this contention, the references provided in Wikipedia can be good leads to reliable information. You can always cross check the information with other references.
7. Researchers’ blogs
Researchers’ blogs can provide useful information as recognized experts in their field. Well-known researchers usually respond positively when students request complimentary copies of their research paper published in reputable scientific journals.
While online sources are good sources of information, exploring your study area, making critical observations, or talking with people can provide valuable insights. There is no substitute to personal encounter or interaction.