Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Library Research vs. Virtual Research

After researching the conventional library way and the new virtual way, I have come realize how much more efficient and effective online research really is. With online programs like Diigo and Zotero, researching is now a breeze. Before I was ever introduced to such online applications, I found that my hunt for data was incredibly unorganized. I would attempt to keep track of my information with post- its, index cards, and highlightings. The problem with this research method was that I would forget where my highlightings were, my post-its would unstick, and my index cards would get lost. Not only was this type of research chaotic, it was also quite limiting. For example, depending on the library I went to, I was limited to the information that was found in their books. Often times, I didn't find enough information, or the data that I did come across happened to be outdated and not very useful. This type of research is a thing of the past. Virtual research has revolutionized the way people gather data and has helped me become a better researcher. Programs like Diigo allow me to bookmark, highlight, and even add sticky notes to my online findings. Through Diigo, individuals are able to examine other people's social bookmarks and this feature greatly facilitates the research process. The online program Zotero is probably the most useful application that I have been introduced to so far. In the past, preparing bibliographies was always a drag and a hassle. I was never sure if I was formatting the information properly and always felt like I was leaving something out. With Zotero, a person can obtain a source's bibliographical information in a matter of seconds. Zotero is a convenient, time saving tool that every student should take advantage of.

The only downfall to virtual research is that stored data may sometimes become unavailable due to power outages or online technical difficulties. These situations can be frustrating for a researcher who is depending solely on their online notes and sources to complete an assignment or task. It's times like these when old fashion library research turns out to be more dependable and less exasperating.

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