In addition to the databases that the library subscribes to, there are research databases with journals and articles openly and freely available on the web. NIC's Discovery Search includes a few open access databases in its search like Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). But there are even more databases available such as, PubMed, arXiv, BASE, PLoS, Project Gutenberg, and more!
Besides the library resources, trade journals, and Google Scholar, the web is also a good place to start your research. The web can provide plenty of material on companies and franchises, people profiles, and basic starter information. Current government information, including statistics, is also available on the web. The web gives you quick access to all kinds of information in different formats, including image, video, and audio.
You should use the same criteria for evaluating websites that you use for any source you are planning to use for research. Review Is My Source Credible?, or go to the next step in this tutorial for Evaluating Sources. Also be sure to check for copyright and other restrictions on the use of the material.
When searching the web, it is possible to use more of a "natural language" type of search. For example:
Google uses a different searching algorithm than the library databases. It returns results based on your preferences, and how you have searched Google in the past. So your search results list may appear different than someone else's. Therefore, it is important to look past the first page of results.
To "fine tune" your results in Google, go to the Google Advanced Search page, where you can perform a Boolean-like search. Try this on your own, and see the difference in the results list!
Open Educational Resources
Many of the resources provided in your classroom - readings, videos, e-books - are Open Educational Resources. However, you may run across OERs while doing research on the web. Open educational resources (OERs) are resources that are part of the public domain, or have been released under a license that permits free use. OERs include learning content such as videos, audio clips, images, textbooks, reports, articles, data, tests and quizzes, etc.
Some common OER repositories are OER Commons, BCcampus OpenEd, OpenStax, MERLOT, Khan Academy, Lumen Learning, Open Course Library, Boundless, and Saylor Academy. If you wish to use any of these materials in your research, you should use the same evaluation methods described in this tutorial. Note that anything that is linked or embedded into your classroom has already been vetted and evaluated.
Open Source Images