Can you do your research online?

By Mar.05, 2010

These days it is becoming much easier to have access to resources which in the past we would have to travel miles and miles to briefly be able to scan through. We were limited to the geographical locations where such resources could be found, and the opening hours of the institutions that host them. Additional costs would also have to be considered regarding accommodation, transportation and subsistence when away from home. Above all, it was a time consuming activity to have to travel all the way to one place just to collect information.

Ancient collections, new formats
Ancient collections, new formats

Photo: Courtesy by LitSciMed

Of course, those same places are still worth visiting, as it is the case of the British Library or other World Digital Libraries, for instances. The historical past they represent, the opportunity to get closer to original artefacts, etc, are valuable. ย There is and, I think I can say, there will always be an added value to the face-to-face (physical) experience. But when that is not possible, wouldn’t you wish you could still have access to it all?

Doing research is not only time consuming, it is equally cost demanding, especially when we need to access research artefacts that are beyond our local reach. So, the web can provide alternative modes of accessing what we need.

Recently new initiatives have started to emerge. Parallel to the Google Digital Collections, which has generated quite a debate about making such data available World Wide Web, other institutions are now looking at ways of widening the access to their collections. The British Library, for instance, has just announced that it will establish a partnership with Amazon’s printing on demand, CreateSpace, to make available a large collection of out-of-print 19th century titles.

That, to me, is spectacular! It not only means that I can have access to BL resources from anywhere in the world. It also means that such rarities will now be preserved and made available in a new format.

Harvard Web Accessible Collections is also another amazing resource.

Other digital collections I have recently come across, include:

And here is a website, which I just found while I was writing this post, and which lists a great deal of them

And then of course there is also the institutional repositories, such as the one we have at our University. And Open Access Journals. And academic Theses repositories [ EThOS, Theses Canada, etc ].ย  All of them are of use. Research, definitely, does not belong in a dusty shelf in some Library. It deserves to be shared. It definitely wants to be made accessible, so more people can have the possibility of learning from it.

Another online tool I have heard of being appropriated for academic and research use is googlemaps. Apparently it is of great use to astronomers.

I wonder which other tools and digital resources available out there researchers are using to support their research, and minimize time and travel costs…?

I look forward to your views and experiences. ๐Ÿ˜‰


4 thoughts on “Can you do your research online?

  1. 10 years ago  

    yeap – that is also what I wanted to slowly arrive at … maybe with another post…one from you?! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

  2. sakinasofia

    10 years ago  

    When I read the title of the blog, the first thing that came to mind is that online in research is used not only for gathering information. My research participants are miles away, but through the prevalence of online tools, I am able to reach them. Thus, can I do my research online? Yes, even to the extension of conducting and using online research methods.

  3. 10 years ago  

    I Totally agree. As Clay Shirky says ‘it’s not information overload; it’s filter failure’. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    We still haven’t figured out how to manage all of this info we have access to now. And some of us get really, really annoyed at that.
    But I also think that as we engage with this form of accessing, reading and digesting info, we start adopting techniques (which I find easier to perform than to explain)… but the digital world is definitely changing the way we think and process information.
    As far as I am concerned, despite sometimes being totally overwhelmed, I would not change this for the world. These are A M A Z I N G times we are experiencing! Just think(ing) about the time I spent going to book shops and order foreign books relevant to my undergrad course, which sometimes arrived after my exams!! (this was back in PT, of course)…
    The possibilities are numerous now.

    I’ve been following the Digital revolution. They raise important issues

    Unfortunately, I think it’s only available in the UK (still not widely accessible… ;-( )

  4. 10 years ago  

    My view is that it is great to be able to access all this stuff so quickly and most often it is quite easy.
    My experience is that there is still a cost involved in all this which is that there is an overwhelming amount of information and sources which I still have to filter and process. This is still time consuming. The human brain isnt evolving as quickly as the IT world is!
    The solution, as I see it, is to learn to become smarter at knowing how to approach and use all this material.

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