While we might all start at Wikipedia because it is the first that comes up on the search list, the internet provides access to sources which are much more credible and just as accessible.
Wikipedia might be a starting point
Even if you use Wikipedia as a starting point for serious research it should really be only a jump off point because the online encyclopedia readily acknowledges its own shortcomings.
Wikipedia has the advantage of providing a broad outline and a lot of jump off points to other sources of information. It’s those other sources which are likely to provide you with the first level of information. There are amazing sources of information out there, you just have to start looking.
Journals want to be online
Journals and academic articles are online. Where the difficulty comes is they make their money by charging for access. It makes it difficult for anyone who is not involved in academia to get access to some of the resources. But from the journal’s perspective, there is an advantage to making the material available to a wider interested audience.
The upshot is they have to go about it in other ways.
Your local public library is the first place to go. Libraries are as invested in being technologically relevant as anywhere else. A public library is no longer a place of books – meaning physical books. The library system will often buy access to the more common sources and make it available through their websites.
All you need is a login to the library site which usually comes with your library card and you automatically have access.
Using the library access benefits both you and the library. This is a service which the library pays for on behalf of its cardholders, so if you use a paid for the resource through the library they really want to know their resources are being used.
Libraries are one of our most valuable resources and they are worth checking out.
If the library doesn’t have the periodical or resource you need there are plenty of other ways of finding it online. There are two key words, ‘Open Access’.
Searching for open access journals will lead you to a host of resources. Sometimes these are via an aggregator who will pull together plenty of different resources or they can be to the journal directly.
Often some older material will be available free of charge and the newer material might have costs associated. It depends on what you’re looking for.
Occasionally a for-profit journal will make one of their journals available as an open-access resource to encourage you to buy access to their other journals. But if you get the information from your primary free source, all the better.
You might need to give an email address
Online resources have a value. It makes sense that even when they are free a journal will want to know who their audience is. Give them your email address. I know they won’t use it.