Using Internet / Other Online Sources, Documenting References, and A Short Dictionary of Essential Library Terms
Using the Internet and Other Online Resources
Using the Internet
The Internet is fast becoming an important tool in conducting research (D. Applegate, CAL). Materials available on the Internet include research posted by individuals, newsgroups about specific topics, images and multimedia presentations about a topic, link lists, databases of research data, and online periodicals.
The Internet is accessed using a special navigating program like Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Explorer. Each page on the Internet is identified by a unique URL (uniform resource locator) address; it is important to accurately record and enter the URL without changing letter cases (upper and lower case) or spacing. If you know the URL of the page you want, you can enter it to access the page. If you are searching for information about your topic, use a search engine like Yahoo, Lycos, Excite, or Infoseek; these search engines provide lists of subject headings and subheadings that you can select from, or you can type in your own subject key words.
Because just about anyone can publish on the Internet, it is extremely important to evaluate the reliability of sources you obtain from the Internet. Things to consider include:
- Author's credibility
- Is an author listed? What are the author's credentials? From where does the author's expertise derive? Is there any reason the author may be biased?
- Author's affiliations
- Is the author affiliated with a particular organization or institution? Is there any reason the organization or institution may be biased? Is the organization or institution well known or obscure?
- References and citations
- Does the author refer to the work of others? How does the work compare?
- Date of publication
- When was the page posted and last updated? To your knowledge, have circumstances that might affect the information changed since the page was posted and last updated?
Documenting Internet sources is a tricky matter because not all pertinent information will be listed on web pages and documentation formats vary according to the type of Internet source, the Internet protocol, and the citation style used in your paper. Newer editions of most style manuals now have information on how to document and cite Internet sources.
An excellent guide to using Internet sources is Andrew Harnack and Eugene Kleppinger's Online! A Reference Guide to Using Internet Sources (1997, New York: St. Martin's Press). This guide has chapters on finding Internet sources, connecting to the Internet directly and indirectly, choosing and evaluating Internet sources, citing and documenting Internet sources in MLA, APA, Chicago and CBE styles, using images and graphics, publishing texts on the Internet, and directory of Internet sources.
Other Online Sources
Besides the Internet, other online sources that are helpful in doing research are databases and library catalogs (M. Jones, Muskingum College Library; D. Applegate, CAL). There are hundreds of online computer databases that are available through the library; most schools subscribe to or have access to a large percentage of these. Online databases are content specific, covering subjects like chemistry, physics, business, education, and current events. Because subscriptions to online databases are often very costly, users may be charged to access them.
As most schools move to computerized catalogs of their holdings, they are making them accessible to people off their campuses. When doing research you might search through these catalogs for relevant sources. If your library does not own a particular title, you may be able to order it through interlibrary loan.
When doing library research, be sure to record bibliographic information for each reference, whether paper or online, you consult (D. Applegate, CAL). Never put away a reference or index without fully documenting from where the information came.
Most citations require the following information minimally:
- Full name of the author(s), reviewer(s), producer(s), and/or translator(s)
- Full name of the editor(s), if the work appears in an edited volume
- Title of the article or chapter, if the work appears in an edited volume or periodical
- Full title, including subtitles, of the book, periodical, video, recording, or pamphlet
- Place of publication (including the state if the city is not well known)
- Date of publication, copyright, presentation, personal communication, original work (if translated), or computer access
- Edition number, if applicable
- Volume number, for serials or periodicals
- Issue number, for serials or periodicals paginated by issue
- Range of pages, if the work appears in an edited volume or periodical
- URL or hostname, for online references
- Access number, for online database documents
The bibliographic information for each reference should be organized using standard documentation styles, such as Chicago, APA, or MLA. Descriptions and examples of these formats can be obtained from a variety of style manuals, examples of which are listed below. Some academic disciplines have their own documentation styles; check with your instructor.
- Hacker, Diane (1997). A pocket style manual (2nd ed.). Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press.
- Hacker, Diane (1989). A writer's reference. New York: St. Martin's Press.
- Harnack, Andrew and Kleppinger, Eugene. (1997). Online! A reference guide to using Internet sources. New York: St. Martin's Press.
- Turabian, Kate L. (1973). A manual for writers of term papers, theses, and dissertations. (4th ed.) Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
A Short Dictionary of Essential Library Terms
Finding your way around the library is easier when you are familiar with the terms you might encounter. Here is a short list of some essential library terms and definitions (D. Applegate, CAL).
- call number - a combination of letters, numbers, and/or dates that uniquely identifies each item in the library and indicates where the item will be found in the library; may use the Dewey decimal system or the Library of Congress system.
- catalog - compilation of all the library's holdings; usually arranged in two ways, by subject and by author/title; may be a traditional card catalog or an online computerized catalog
- index - a reference item available in print or online that lists by subject and/or author the periodical articles or dissertations/theses published in a group of periodicals for a given year or range of years; examples, Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature and Dissertation Abstracts
- interlibrary loan - when one library arranges for a patron to borrow an item or items from another library
- Internet - a world-wide collection of computer networks linking government, commercial, academic and research institutions
- journal - a type of periodical with little advertising and with academic articles written by and intended for a scholarly audience
- magazine - a type of periodical with advertisements and articles intended for a general audience
- microfilm - a microform document printed on reel film
- microfiche - a microform document printed on index card-sized film
- microform - any document that is photographed and printed in reduced size
- online - resources available on computer
- periodical - any document that is issued in multiple volumes during one year or each year; may be issued daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annually, or annually; includes journals, magazines, and newspapers
- quarto - an item that is too large to fit on normal library shelves
- reference - any item that is intended to be used for a short period of time and usually cannot be taken from the library; includes dictionary, encyclopedias, indexes, and maps
- serial - any item that is received by the library on a repeated basis, such as weekly, monthly, or yearly installments
- special collections - any library items that are not immediately accessible to a patron; a patron must ask a librarian to get items from special collections; may include rare or fragile items
- stacks - the portions of the library where books are shelved.