Google has become so ubiquitous in the lives of this generation that it’s become a word that’s entered into our vocabulary like kleenex, baindaid or chapstick. The verb “to google” roughly means to search the web for answers to any and every question. You may have found out what gifts girls like best, how to propose to your girlfriend, where to go for honeymoons on Google, but when it comes to class requirements for your online university you  may be in for a culture shock. A good deal of graduate courses are encouraging students to use library and professional database resources because of the stringent process it goes through before it’s allowed to surface in such a collection. Does this mean there won’t be mistakes in the works in your library? Of course not! But what it does mean is that there was at least some effort from editors and peer reviews to filter a bit of the nonsense out.

You can use your online college library in at least three ways as a student: uncovering ideas for research topics or other papers, reviewing the research literature to be sure you’re not repeating someone’s past work, and finding supporting material for opinions presented in a paper.

One: Uncovering Ideas for Papers. When you go a library located on a physical college campus you may have been amazed at the sheer volume of information. Books line walls that seem to never end. Well, if you could visualize the amount of information that is available to you in a virtual library you’d be surprised to see that it could easily be ten times larger than the largest library you’ve seen. No library holds physical copies of all books, articles, etc. Some have quite a bit, but when you tap into the internet you can gain access to these libraries and many others. Great place to look for ideas huh? There’s no dearth of them in your online college library & related resources. You could even ask the online librarian to help direct you in a certain direction or help you narrow down a topic.

Two: Review the Literature. Many of our greatest achievements of the past centuries have come because we’ve built on the backs of past great thinkers, who built on their past. In research you’ll find that knowing what the current scene looks like at present will give you an idea of what’s missing to get to where you want to go. By surveying your online university’s library and databases you can look at any topic to see what already understood and go from there. Every good research paper begins with a review of current literature.

Three: Finding Supporting Material. While this is similar to performing a literature review, it’s more focused. In many of your papers for your online schooling you will be asked to make assertions and back them up with credible journal articles and such material. Just about every college library has access to some sort of research journals via an online database. They often partner with other institutions so they can offer free of charge to their students these resources. Since college is a place for learning and building on the achievements of the past, these educational resources are an important part of your higher education.

Don’t be afraid to visit your online university’s library and learn all about what’s available to you. The more you’re aware of what is offered the more likely you are to utilize those resources for successful coursework. Good luck in learning and utilizing your online college library!

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