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Learning at School > Online Research Tools?
girlygirls3's Avatar girlygirls3 09:48 AM 05-17-2012



My dd has to do a research project and I'm wondering what is out there online that we can use as a reliable source?  We will go to the library also, but since this is our 1st type of project like this, I thought I would ask what is out there that other moms have helped their kids use online?



ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree 12:21 PM 05-17-2012

Check the assignment instructions first to see if the teacher has set out guidelines for the research. Aside from learning about the subject topic, the teacher may want the students to learn how to use primary source material or books and journals in the library, rather than on-line research. 


If on-line research is allowed, then I'd start with the school library website for suggested research websites and any databases that the students have access to through the school. 

whatsnextmom's Avatar whatsnextmom 01:11 PM 05-17-2012

In general, look for .org and .edu sites. Steer clear of the .com's for research projects. Be prepared to help your child weed through online sources. My DS's first big research project was a mess because he wanted to do it all on his own. He was only 8 and really, he didn't know how to filter the mass of information on the internet. He had trouble determining what was fact and what was opinion and confused on what type of information was EXPECTED for his grade. So, his rough draft on California Missions was filled with material you'd expect on a college dissertation, some of it conflicting each other. We had to start from scratch and search with him typing in "4th grade mission reports" so that he could find BASIC information that was more inline with what they were studying and what was in the books he was also using as reference.

ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree 09:05 AM 05-18-2012

I was interrupted yesterday, but here are a few more suggestions: 


- public library websites - may have a list of links for research articles and databases

- museum websites - same

- government websites

- organizations like the U.N., WHO, NASA, medical associations.....   


Without knowing the grade level or the research subject, it's tough to give you suggestions.


My DD just finished a 10th grade history assignment. She chose to discuss aboriginal issues over the past century. One of requirements of the assignment was to complete an annotated bibliography of her sources, in order to assess their reliability and value. She had to summarize the thesis/argument, explain the background of the author (eg. academic and industry credentials, experience, area of expertise, any apparent links to associations with specific agendas etc.), consider the research (eg. type of study) and publication (peer-reviewed journal etc.),  - and identify possible biases or weaknesses in the source material.


She complained bitterly about having to write it all out (mainly because it's a lot of work to distill all that information coherently and concisely into a brief summary paragraph or two) but it was an excellent exercise in critical analysis. An elementary-aged child wouldn't be expected to do the same level of work but as you review sources with your child, it would be useful to get in the habit of asking those sorts of questions about what they are reading, so they can start thinking about it.

Geofizz's Avatar Geofizz 10:36 AM 05-18-2012

Keep it simple.  Stick to books from the library.

Linda on the move's Avatar Linda on the move 12:00 PM 05-18-2012
Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post

Keep it simple.  Stick to books from the library.



I agree. I have a highschooler who spent time this year on sorting the crap from the reliable stuff on-line. It's complicated question and the answer keeps changing.


The library is awesome, and it is has a staff that would LOVE to help you child find stuff. I think teaching our kids to go to the library and talk to the librarians is a FAR more valuable skill than how to type things into goggle.


Also, IMHO it's easier for children to write from scratch when cutting and pasting is not an option.

hildare's Avatar hildare 12:15 PM 05-18-2012

your library will have fantastic databases for you to use, just ask them.


here's a google cheat that might help.  in the google search box, type either






and google will limit the searches to only educational institutes or government documents/sources.

those are primarily good sources but some of the .edus may or may not be.  (that's primarily what i do when i'm trying to quasi-research something)

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