Looking It Up: New Online Techniques to Aid Comprehension and Research

When I was little, my siblings and I were voracious readers. We always asked my mom what words meant, but every time she’d say,
“Go look it up in the dictionary!”
It was what her father had said to her.
We’d get off the sofa where we’d been reading, trudge down the hall, swing open up the brown closet door, and pull out the well-worn dictionary, flipping through its pressed-flower-filled pages.
Eventually, all of us encounter a confusing word or concept, especially in textbooks. If you’re having a hard time understanding, I repeat my mother’s words:
“Go look it up in the dictionary!”
The benefit today is that you can use the internet.

Below are a few techniques on using online resources—some familiar, some unfamiliar— to peruse:
§  Oxforddictionaries.com One of the most comprehensive and credible dictionaries, the Oxford dictionary gives not only a word’s definition, but its historical context and evolution. Oxford also offers a thesaurus and foreign language dictionaries!
§  Wikipedia.org  No, I’m not kidding. It may be frowned upon as a source to use when writing your papers, but don’t be afraid to use Wikipedia to get the general idea of something. It can link you to citable sources and related topics. Articles written in foreign countries can also unearth more details for you to research elsewhere. To translate these pages, Google Chrome will turn them into rough English with a right-click option.
§  Google Scholar is useful for finding thorough academic articles on a subject.
§  Google Books allows you to read books, many of which are rare or no longer in print, on an almost infinite number of topics.
§  Google Images can help you know what something looks like. Warning: it is wise to turn on your SafeSearch option. Do the same when researching topics via YouTube. Keep it clean. You’ll be happier.

Best of luck researching!


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