Research Tools - Spring 1997
Can't Get to the Library? Reference Tools are Online
- Writing a paper and misplaced your copy of Roget's Thesaurus' Need a quick quote to add spark to a speech? Trying to find the definition of a word you spotted on your listserv? A number of sites on the World Wide Web (WWW) are now available to help solve these quandaries and more.
- These online tools can be a quick source of information when you're facing a deadline crunch and can't get to the library to access their paper equivalents. However. some of the better "tools" are only available by subscriptions.
- There are more dictionaries, biographies, and other types of reference sites now available on the Web. Two good spots that provide links to many of them are: Yahoo: Reference (http://www.yahoo.com/Reference)
Internet Sleuth (http:lwww.isleuth.cnm/refe.html).
- In the meantime, the following sites can help you get started with your reference inquiries.
Roget's Thesaurus, 1911
The thesaurus is available as part of the ARTFUL. Project at the University of Chicago. Once you have searched for your synonyms and have retrieved a list of possible terms, some of the terms are highlighted, clickable links to bring you to corresponding entries. A nice touch at this site would he if it had a link hack to the search page instead of your having to use the back button on your browser. Still, this is a nice site if you're looking for words.
- Acronyms and Abbreviations (http://www.ucc.ie/cgi-bin/acronym)
Another handy site For deciphering terms is Acronyms and Abbreviations. Type in an abbreviation or acronym, and the database will interpret it for you. A recent search on "etc." yielded the acronym: Enhanced Throughput Cellular (AT&T) and the abbreviation definition: Et cetera, and so on...
- Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
If you are searching for something more exotic, perhaps this database would suit you. If you are looking for harpies or Hera this site will help you find them. A one to two paragraph description is provided for each subject.
- Bartlett's Quotations (http://www.cc.columhia.edu/acis/bartleby/bartlett)
This site was developed by Columbia University's Project Bartleby. Quotes can be located by using the site's search engine. However, it pays to read the search instructions as the Boolean operators are not what one would expect. For example, "," is used for the operator AND, while is used for the operator OR. Quotes are also broken down by the name of the individual quoted. An alphabetical clickable list of individuals is available for searching.
- If you need information about individuals, a few biographical sites worth browsing also exist. A few of these are:Britannica Lives (http://www.eb.com/bio.html)
This site makes 17,000 brief biographies extracted from Britannica Online available for free. Be aware that when they say "brief" they mean brief. Biographies are one to two lines at most. If you want more information you will have to subscribe. One neat feature of this site is a search screen that allows you to check out what famous individuals share your birthday or birth year.Biography (http://www.biography.com).
- Sponsored by A&E, the Arts & Entertainment Television Networks, this site provides more biographical information. The searchable database of over 15,000 individual biographies extracted from the Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia provides short one to two paragraphs of information on each individual. Still, a site worth visiting.
The Web has a number of dictionary sites available. They cover a variety of languages. including sign. Some are very specific to subjects such as the Internet or biology. Here are a couple that merit looking at: One Look Dictionaries (http://www.onelook.com)
One of the best sites to look up the meanings of words is this one. Over 470,366 words in 72 dictionaries are indexed. This site allows simultaneous searching across the dictionaries. It has set up 10 categories of dictionaries with pull down menus allowing you to search all or any one of them. Categories of dictionaries include: computer/Internet, science, medical, technological, business, sports, religion, miscellaneous, acronym, and general. American Sign Language Dictionary
- This site provides a description and graphical representation of the most commonly used words in American Sign Language.
Biotechnology Dictionary (http://biotech.chem.indiana.edu/pages/dictionary.html).
BioTech's free online science dictionary contains over 5000 life science terms. Related terms arc highlighted and linked.
There are a few encyclopedias available online.
Of course, the premier is Encyclopedia Britannica (http://www.eb.com). However, in order to use it you most subscribe. but a free seven day trial of the product is available. The following encyclopedias are free: Encyberpedia (http://www.cncyberpedia.com)
The Encyberpedia tours itself as the "Living Encyclopedia from Cyberspace," but, it is actually an index to information on a variety of topics. Information in The Encyberpedia is organized under more than 20 general headings. A click brings you to a page that allows you to narrow your topic. For example, one of the general headings is Animals. After clicking on Animals you could narrow your topic by clicking on the subheading of Dogs. This would bring you to a list of sites that contain information on dogs and dog-related topics. The Encyberpedia is a handy way to find information on the Web, but is not a true, authoritative encyclopedia. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (http://plato.stanford.edu)
The effort to create this encyclopedia is being sponsored by the American Philosophical Association and the Philosophy Documentation Center at Bowling Green State University. The project is in its very early stages, and many articles are not yet ready. hopefully, it will develop in the near future. All of the entries are evaluated by an Editorial Board and are well-written and thorough.