By Simon Rogers
The Internet is a powerful resource, something that holds true for academic research and writing. There are a number of ways you can utilise the web, including journals, libraries, podcasts and short courses – to name but a few.
While the benefits are many, in this article we point out some potential time-wasting pit falls to watch out for.
Journals are probably the most obvious academic resource on the Internet. You’ll more than likely find a publication which suits your exact field. Moreover, you can find fresh and up-to-date content to suit your requirements. Most articles in journals range around 8000 words, so you are liable to find a concise outline of the topic in hand.
However, the richness and amount of content could also be a potential pitfall as it is quite easy to search numerous different journals to find what you are looking for. Furthermore, what you are likely to find might not be as in depth as you might want it to be. Although there is a wealth of information in journals, most of really good stuff is still reserved for books.
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websites suggest that online libraries have an array of different ways in which you can access content, including full PDF versions of books. At best, you will be able to find an electronic copy of the exact book you’re searching for. Libraries will often put an expiry date on a PDF which might match the books return by date.
At worst, however, you might spend hours trying to find a text which simply isn’t offered by a library. Despite the promise of online libraries, free PDF copies of books are restricted because of obvious copyright issues. Try not, therefore, to let your library search turn into a wider PDF search on the internet, it’s more than liable to take a whole lot longer than popping to the nearest library.
Most universities now offer podcasts, which is a great way of keeping on top of your course. It also means that you have access to other platforms of department and university teaching. This adds flexibility to you learning and can also be great if you want to add to your learning. As with online libraries and journals, the main consideration should be time. It would help if you know the lecturer or lecture series well, as it is harder to skim a lecture than it is a book.
This intimacy with the potential subject matter might also avoid veering off track in terms of your own course. Unless, of course, you have decided that you much prefer another strand of the particular subject you are studying.
Other short courses
Universities also offer a range of excellent other short courses that can help in studies. These can be found online, as well as through conventional class room settings. The same is true for non-university affiliated sites. Although the bulk of quality study-skill material can be found through your university, there are a number of cheap courses which can impact positively on your studies, including creative writing, essay writing, math, etc. In fact, the choices seem to be endless.
Here quality should be the foremost consideration. Some courses end up on the Internet for cheap because they have past their sell-by date (typical of web design courses) and some lack any depth. Try to go on recommendation.
Simon Rogers is a research assistant and freelance blogger in the field of education. Currently he is based in London and works as an online and classroom tutor for several educational institutions. He blogs on www.essayorders.co.uk