10 Tools for Bookmarking and Online Research

About this article
The Internet is a blessing and a curse for researchers: It's a limitless source of information, but filtering through it all can be overwhelming. Can we rely on sites like Wikipedia? And when we're crawling all over the Web, how do we keep track of everything? This article will explore some of the most useful tools for collecting, sorting, citing and sharing online information.
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Online Research

Find Information

These online tools and resources can help you find quality source material for your research projects.

1. Library Lookup Project

One of the best research and information resources is your local library. While most libraries now offer their catalogs online, their Web pages typically lack useful features like user recommendations that are often found on sites like Amazon.com. The Library Lookup Project is a great bookmarklet tool that can bring the power of e-commerce book sites to your library search. Just install the bookmarklet and browse your favorite sites for books. Once you've found what you're looking for, click the bookmarklet to find out if it's available at your library. Not all libraries are offered via the default tool, but the website offers some simple instructions on how to add your local library.

Note: While there are several other library book search extensions available for Firefox, the Library Lookup Project is one of the few plug-ins of its kind that works with any web browser.

2. Project Gutenberg

Can't find the book you're looking for at your local library? Not ready to make a purchase? Project Gutenberg offers over 30,000 free e-books on their website. They're all quality-controlled, conventionally published books that have been scanned and uploaded by volunteers.

3. RSS

One of the web's most most useful information-gathering tools is Really Simply Syndication, or RSS. Thousands of organizations from blogs to news websites to academic journals offer a syndicated feed of their content. All you have to do is download a free RSS news reader, install the feeds you'd like to read, and voila! You have a centralized source for information and research right on your own PC. Vienna is a popular free RSS reader for Mac users, and RSS Reader is one of the many popular free options for Windows.

4. The National Archives

One of the most comprehensive sources of information in the country is the government-run National Archives, and they make a huge portion of their holdings available online. The above link takes you to their impressive collection of resources, including the Archival Research Catalog, the Microfilm Catalog, published research guides, the Archives Library Information Center and much more.

Organize Your Files

Get Organized

Now that you've got some great sources you have to figure out how to get all this information in order. The following programs and websites will help you organize your research and take notes on the fly. Most of these tools are free, but some of them offer advanced services for a small fee.

5. Yahoo! Search Pad

This summer Yahoo! released their much-anticipated Search Pad function. To use it, simply log in to your Yahoo! account, go to their home page and start searching. Search Pad will detect that you're researching a specific topic, start tracking where you've visited and even allow you to keep notes on useful pages along the way. Check out Yahoo!'s blog for a helpful tutorial on all the Search Pad features.

6. Web Notes

Web Notes performs much like Search Pad's note-taking function, but it works on any browser, with any search engine or on any website (no searching necessary). In addition to the free Personal version, Web Notes offers paid Academic and Professional versions that integrate with your own documents and even allows you to take notes on online PDFs.

7. Mendeley

This totally free tool helps you organize your own research and explore academic articles and papers uploaded by other individuals in your field. There are two components: A desktop tool that helps you organize documents on your computer and an online tool that allows you to store and remotely access your research library and bibliography.

8. Bib Me

Finished with your research? Now it's time for the biggest headache: Putting together a bibliography. Bib Me is a powerful free service that can streamline the process by allowing you to enter many different types of sources, including books, magazines, newspaper articles, websites, scholarly journals, films and more, and returning a works cited page formatted in MLA, APA, Chicago or Turabian style.

Information Sharing

Share Your Notes

Whether you're working on a collaborative project or just seeking to share your discoveries with the world, the following tools are designed to streamline the process of sharing links and resources.

9. Socializer

Social bookmarking isn't just for sharing the latest gossip blog or the coolest Flickr page. It can also be an incredibly useful way to track and share your online research. Socializer is a handy app that allows you to link to multiple social bookmarking sites, including Digg, Reddit, Delicious and more.

Note for webmasters: You can also place a single Socializer link on your website to allow visitors to send bookmarks to all their favorite sites at once.

10. Social Search Engine

One of the most frustrating things about wading through a general Web search is trying to determine the quality and reliability of your results. Social bookmarking websites can be a great resource for getting user reviews on specific websites, but who wants to dig through the all the popular social bookmarking websites? The Social Search Engine is a service put together by Info Pirate that allows users to search all of the the major social bookmarking sites at once.

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