Searching beyond the popular search engine
I can hear people gasping at the title, pointing their fingers at me, yelling out “blasphemy!” Say what you will, but that statement holds some merit.
Copernicus didn’t use Google to discover that the Earth wasn’t at the center of the universe. Newton probably didn’t even use Google or Yahoo! to ask what mechanism/s were responsible for that falling apple (Yes, I am being very sarcastic. I’m aware of my absurd claims and awful humour).
Even today, it is highly unlikely that information on novel discoveries, emerging trends, and poorly documented phenomena in S&T will be found using a popular search engine. News articles and media outlets may talk about these novel trends, but they are not always reliable sources of information. On the other hand, doing a simple engine search for a well-known topic can often yield good resources…that need to be sieved from the unreliable sources of information.
Whether you are writing an essay or doing your own, independent research, here’s a list of websites that can help you salvage (mostly) reliable information.
Similar to Google Scholar, CiteSeerX is a search engine for scientific literature (and data), especially related to computer and information science. The digital library is updated regularly using web crawls and submissions from users.
A well-renowned journal (although they’ve published their fair share of shoddy science), Nature.com is packed full of news stories related to new research and opinion pieces in their blogs. The website even features a career blog, for career advice in the sciences. Some publications are even open access. The website even includes databases, conference information, and job postings all around the world.
Similar to Nature, Science is another well-renowned journal that includes almost the same features seen on Nature.com, such as news related to recently published research, opinion pieces, discussions, and career advice.
First launched in 2003, PLOS is a non-profit publisher providing open-access journals to the public using the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. PLOS believes that free access to scientific journal articles can improve education and awareness in S&T. PLOS provides thousands of articles related to biology, genetics, medicine, and even in the physical, social, and engineering sciences featured in their 7 journals. PLOS even has a blog and specific scientific communities that you can engage in.
Developed by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), PubMed features scientific articles, books, and reports from a variety of journals. Many of these resources can be accessed freely, and relate to the biomedical and/or life sciences.
InTech is an international open access publisher, providing online books and journals for a variety of topics in the engineering, life, and social sciences. The open access materials were developed by the collaborative efforts of international scientists, resulting in over 2000 books and 6 journals. InTech also claims that many of these authors hail from the world’s top 500 universities.
The World Bank is an international organization that aims to eliminate poverty and increase the economic prosperity in developing countries by 2030. The organization maintains a website which houses a plethora of data, reports, and publications that are openly accessible. Many of these resources are used to assess a country’s development and economic status.
The HHMI is dedicated to educating the public—especially young, practicing scientists—about medical sciences and genetics. The organization’s website contains interactive learning materials, and even resources that are free to download and order! There are also materials available to educators for their classrooms.
The DNA Centre is dedicated to educating children and the general public about genetics and biology, in hopes of preparing them for the “gene age”. The organization holds interactive programs for students, in addition to maintaining a vast resource of learning materials and links to those interested in expanding their genetics knowledge.
Now you have some tools for finding reliable sources of information in the World Wide Web. Now will you please stop using Google for everything?
Do you have another resource that you’d like to share with fellow readers? Write it in the comment section below!
Renee C. has received her B.Sc. in Honours Life Sciences at McMaster University. She loves educating others about different topics in science, and has developed a passion for scientific outreach. When she’s not writing articles for Hemtecks, she’s either volunteering or checking her social media accounts every 20 minutes. Along with Tiffany (Tianhemtecks), she also facilitates the blog’s Facebook page.