A Student's Guide To Better Research

Research is vital to an evolving society. We all conduct research in our lifetime whether we realize it or not, especially in this expansive technological age. In fact, we have access to a plethora of disseminated information at our fingertips. According to a study conducted at the University of California in 2008, Americans consumed about 3.6 zettabytes of digital information over the Internet alone. That corresponds to 34 gigabytes for an average person on an average day. This translates to a higher probability of making discoveries, because of the information readily available to us. If we harness this convenience, then we can use it to our advantage in saving the world from avoidable plights.

Online Library and Article Databases

  • The New York Public Library: A memory bank of historical documents detailing the human events, and the thought and action that inspired it.
  • The Library of Congress: A government-sponsored library that contains hard copy and digital collections of manuscripts and other relevant texts. It offers free guided tours for visitors who wish to stop by the main reading hall on Capitol Hill.
  • The National Academic Press: The NAP offers over 2,500 full-text manuscripts in all scientific disciplines, including biology, computer science, behavioral science, education, environment, mathematics, and more.
  • Science Education: A government-sponsored gateway to fifty scientific databases and two hundred million pages of research results.
  • The Education Reference Desk: ERIC delivers over one million educational documents, journal entries, thousands of clearinghouse published and unpublished reports, curriculum materials, lesson plans, and full-text ERIC digests.

Online Encyclopedias

  • Encyclopedia: An award-winning, free online library and research database that provides authoritative and trustworthy publications at no cost to the general public.
  • The Smithsonian Institute: The world's largest museum and research institutions consisting of nineteen museums and research galleries covering a broad range of subjects.
  • The Perseus Digital Library: A flagship collection of Greco-Roman history, literature, and culture. It covers a variety of subjects pertaining to classical works and humanities.
  • Encyclopedia of Religion and Society: The Hartford Institute for Religion Research provides a free comprehensive encyclopedia of religion and its role in various societies.
  • The 1911 Classic Encyclopedia: An unrevised digital version of the 1911 classic version of the Britannica encyclopedia.

Online Dictionaries and Thesaurus

  • Merriam-Webster: Merriam-Webster has been America's number one trusted provider of language-specific information.
  • Collins Dictionary: Collins publishing as transitioned into a digital dictionary to provide language information for the general public. It functions as a dictionary and thesaurus for a variety of languages, including English, German, French, and Spanish.
  • Macmillan Dictionary: An easy to use online dictionary and thesaurus that features simple, straight-forward definitions with example sentences.
  • Cambridge Dictionaries Online: Cambridge University has published free English dictionaries since 1995.
  • Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913 + 1828): The University of Chicago offers a free digital dictionary modeled after the revised unabridged version of Webster's dictionary.

Subject Specific Research Sites


  • National Institute of Health: A government-sponsored medical research arm makes profound discoveries that improve health and saves lives. It provides an array of medical information at the fingertips of those seeking it.
  • The Journal of Medical Internet Research: A customized, fully web-based manuscript management system that offers a searchable database of newly discovered medical research.
  • PubMed: A searchable database comprising of more than twenty one million citations for biomedical literature.
  • U.S. Global Health Policy: A global database of world health information categorized by country, disease, condition, program, and demographics.
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention: The CDC, a government-sponsored medical research arm, compiles statistical health information and then disseminates to be made readily available to the general public.


  • The History Guide: A comprehensive and chronological list of historic documents detailing the important events in United States history.
  • Making of America: A digital library consisting of sources detailing American social history starting from the antebellum period throughout reconstruction.
  • The Internet Classics Archive: An impressive compilation of 441 works of classical literature by 59 authors, mainly from the Greco-Roman periods.
  • The Avalon Project: An outstanding collection of historical documents from the antiquity, medieval, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st century time periods.
  • The National Archives: A teaching and learning resource containing a wide array of documents, photographs, film, and sound recordings.


  • The National Science Foundation: A federal agency that provides a searchable database of scientific research publications. It includes sections on news releases, statistics, funding, and a real-time business market.
  • The Complete Works of Charles Darwin: A compilation of Charles Darwin's full-text literature made available through custom search options.
  • U.S. Geological Survey: An updated map with real-time data recording between ten to sixty minute intervals of the nation's stream-flow conditions.
  • AGRIS: International Information System for the Agricultural Sciences and Technology: AGRIS, a research arm to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, provides free access to scientific and technological information through the use of common standards and methodologies.
  • Oxford Journals: A division of Oxford University that publishes over two hundred and thirty independent academic journals covering a broad range of scientific and other disciplines.


  • The American Mathematical Society: A member-based mathematical society that provides research information, including journals and mathematical reviews.
  • Mathematics Projects: A resource providing extended investigations with learning and teaching support materials. It includes research projects, research settings, teacher's handbook, mathematical tools, and examples of prior completed work.
  • Purplemath: Purplemath presents a comprehensive mathematics program covering all aspects of algebra, including lesson plans, learning forums, site reviews, homework guidelines, and study skills self-surveys.
  • Mathematics: Resource Guide with Core Curriculum: A comprehensive resource guide with core curriculum that elaborates on standard texts. It includes lesson plans, tutorials, and sample exercises for kindergarten, intermediate, and high school level students.
  • MathSciNet: An electronic publication that allows users to search for reviews, abstract papers, and bibliographic information on a variety of mathematical science literature.

Language Arts

  • Language Arts Resource Guide: Kennesaw University provides an extensive list of resources for language arts students who need outside tools, tutorials, and exercise materials to succeed in the classroom. Each of these outside links include information pertaining to grammar, literature, writing, and other miscellaneous aspects of the English language.
  • PBS Teachers: Reading & Language Arts Resources from PBS (PDF): The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) has compiled a list of reading and language arts resources for all grade levels. It has internal links to information about famous writers, such as Mark Twain, Shakespeare, and Earnest Hemingway. A great resource for teachers and students.
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL): The University of Purdue offers an online writing lab consisting of comprehensive resources and lesson plans that guide students to becoming a better writer.
  • D'Youville College: Online Writing Lab: An extensive index addressing important language arts aspects, such as methods to improving grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation.
  • High School English: Jefferson County Schools offer comprehensive resources to improve students academic performance on a high school level, including general language arts, grammar, spelling, composition, and interactive tools.

Age Specific Resources


  • Palentology K-12 Resources: An extensive list providing information about students interested in Paleontology, including the dynamics of evolution, fossil modules, classroom activities, and more.
  • BioED Online: An online educational resource for teachers, students, and parents. It provides streamlining video presentations, slide shows, and the editors news' picks to educate users about everything related to biology.
  • Bugscope: K-12 students can view bugs under an electron microscope via the Internet by applying to this program and describing the type of project they would like to do.
  • AAA Math: An online resource that provides interactive arithmetic lessons ranging from addition to statistics.
  • The Abacus: The abacus is an ancient calculation tool used to perform addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, square roots, and cubic roots.


  • ChemEd: A digital library consisting of chemistry-related information with live updates of the latest news and research attributed to each natural element.
  • Galileo: A comprehensive research database openly available to the public in guest-mode; however, members can access password-protected sections for additional resources.
  • Help with Research: An online tutorial that teaches college students how to conduct research and compose a formal essay from the collected data.
  • The Internet Public Library: A fully accessible public library with a searchable database offering mulch-disciplinary works from all over the world.
  • Infomine: A scholarly internet resource collection of multiple disciplines for students looking for research data.


  • Northern Illinois University Libraries: The University's Libraries contain over two million volumes of periodicals, publications, audiovisual materials, and electronic databases for adult researchers.
  • ACT Search: ACT Search provides the key tools for conducting company, industry, country, and individual research.
  • The American Psychological Association: The APA provides research tools and methods, funding options, and journal publication entry submission database.
  • CAELA: The Center for Adult English Language Acquisition offers an ESL database that categorizes and annotates over two hundred documents for those interested in ESL.
  • Adult Education Resources: A compilation of adult education research tools for proper citation in research projects.

Senior Citizens

  • Professional Development Tools for Older Adults: The United States Department of Agriculture provides information and resources for senior citizens who need to learn more about optimal nutrition.
  • Social Security Calculator: This tool allows senior citizens to estimate their social security benefits before enrolling into the program.
  • 401(k) Calculator: The 401(k) calculator will help assist those who currently have a 401(k) account estimate how much it will accrue at the age of retirement.
  • Long-Term Care Resource Center: The University of Minnesota’s long-term care resource center conducts research and finalizes reports based on quantitative analysis, case studies, and topic papers on the various facilities across the nation.
  • Resources for Retirement Plan Participant/Employee: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides an extensive list of resources for participants of an equitable retirement plan who wishes to conduct extensive research for a prosperous future.


Written by Grace Ann Stanford

Return to Articles