By Alexis Harmon
As writers, we rely on internet search engines more than anyone else. From rare diseases to small town traditions, we all have obscure topics that we type into Google with crossed fingers for accurate, understandable information.
But sometimes, Google doesn’t cut it. Not only is it hard to avoid falling down a rabbit-hole of research, it’s often hard to tell whether or not your information is accurate. The last thing you want is to be fact-checked by a reader. So for the times you find yourself in a pinch for information, we’ve compiled a list of 8 alternative research options to help you get your facts straight.
Google Scholar – If a traditional search hasn’t yielded anything, you can give Google Scholar a try. Google has made finding reliable information even easier by only showing published academic articles, many of which are accessible for free.
Public library database – If you’re unable to visit your local library, your card can still grant you access to accurate information through an online database. Most libraries have a digital option full of research materials. For example, LA County Library’s database has information ranging from movies to auto repair.
Online Used Book Stores – If you find yourself in need of old or out-of-print books that your local bookstore doesn’t carry, there are plenty of online shops that you can browse at any time of the day. ThriftBooks and AbeBooks both carry used, obscure and out-of-print titles at a discount that could help you in your writing journey.
Museum Archive – Especially due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions, many museums around the world have digitized their databases, making their wealth of information available to you at home. You can even tour some museums from your phone or computer, so you can get the full experience from the comfort of your own home. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The British Museum are just two museums that have digitized their collections for your convenience. Many museums are even willing to send extra information if you contact them directly.
Encyclopedia.com – We all know and love Wikipedia for its convenience and ease of access, but it can’t always be reliable because anyone and everyone can have a stab at editing its information. Instead, try encyclopedia.com, where information is more thoroughly fact-checked. Like Wikipedia, you can find a general overview of a topic, or even find more specific articles to aid in your research.
Science.gov – If you have a science question, the U.S. Government’s science database is full of published articles on a wide variety of subjects. You can browse articles ranging from the effects of polio to the rings of Saturn and know that the information is accurate.
Goodreads – Goodreads is not only a great source for book reviews, but it can also help you find books related to the topic you’re researching. You can see what other authors in your genre are currently writing about and assist in your own writing.
CrashCourse – CrashCourse is a popular education channel on YouTube that covers topics from sociology to artificial intelligence in easy, comprehensible terms! CrashCourse is a great resource if you learn better from visuals (or are just sick of reading article after article), and the format makes the information easily digestible.
Alexis Harmon is a UCLA student studying English and Education Studies in addition to working for the Writers’ Program. She strives to write well, foster good vibes at all times and love cats to the point of annoyance.