New & old tools on the Web for better searchingFinding good sources on the Web while conducting research is always difficult; often it seems that any web search will yield millions of hits, and it's difficult to sometimes determine what's useful and what's useless.
Some new & interesting tools can simplify that quest; some others have been around but perhaps you have not searched them of late Here are some recent finds that you might find useful.
We live in a world of "big data," have you heard?
From the Sciences to the Social Sciences to the Humanities, both government and private and public organizations produce some kind of 'data' that we think will be valuable for our research needs. But the question has always been where to find it? Most people will still say "google it" which has become a verb now.
Enter Zanran. This search tool searches data sources; it often has data in excel or other kinds of spreadsheets. It retrieves both government and other sources of information. It also offers a preview of the data source by hovering your mouse pointer over the image on the left column. Zanran isn't Google or anyone else; at least so far.
First time users will have to register an email address to download the data. Zanran claims it will not give out your address, nor does it use it to send you anything. So why do they want it? Maybe they are collecting data too! Give Zanran any address you wish. After that, you'll be able to download the results you find.
Everyone knows that Google retrieves millions of results. Do you ever go past a few pages before giving up? Millionshort promises you it will remove up to the first million of results of a Google search. Does that mean you will behold websites you have never encountered? Keep in mind that when Google searches, thousands if not more retrievals are from the same site, just different pages. Try the two next to each other and compare results. It all depends on what you are looking for, of course, but millionshort is worth trying.
The Social Sciences know that the APA style for citation is pushing the use of a DOI as a replacement to listing a database source; DOI (digital object identifier) is gaining ground in the publishing industry. Popular databases may display a doi in a reference, but not always. There are still problems with uniqueness, but doi's are making headways into the citation rules. If you are a Chrome user, you can download a "doi resolver" right on your toolbar. Copy and paste a a doi you find, and the resolver contacts crossref.org to deliver a citation. It's too bad that it is not delivered in proper format for APA, but then the world is not yet ready for that. Are you a Firefox user? There's a doi extension there that is available to you by simply right-clicking the web page you are on. Search for it in your extensions under 'tools' and you'll be on your way.
There's a place.... where to find an archive that might hold collections, papers, historical, scientific, etc. of all kinds of topics. Archive Grid, part of the Online Computer Libraries, or OCLC, has made Archive grid free for searching. Use it to identify a collection that you might want to visit later; unless the library has virtual access to materials, you will likely find Archive Grid helpful for simply identifying a collection which you will have to contact or visit later.