Research in any area is based on gathering, processing, analysing, and interpreting a huge amount of information, and revising human knowledge with a critical view. The main goal of a good research is to “produce” a new piece of knowledge. Among many other classifications, research work can be: exploratory – identifying new problems, or constructive – developing solutions to existing problems. There are plenty of online tools helping research in general and policy research in specific. An important group of all these tools are the search engines, especially the one related to scholarly and academic world, as well as the one related to policy research. Few engines allow also visualisation of search results in an unusual way. Have a look at the selection below and choose:
Google Scholar Beta – http://scholar.google.com/
This is a very good search tool for students, teachers, scientists, librarians, and journalists seeking articles within established academic journals. It provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research. The following main features exist:
- Search diverse sources from one convenient place;
- Find articles, theses, books, abstracts or court opinions;
- Locate the complete document through your library or on the web;
- Learn about key scholarly literature in any area of research.
Google Book Search – http://books.google.com/
As you know, Google’s got a grand plan: it wants to digitize the world’s information and offer it for free on the Internet. The search giant is pursuing its goal by scanning books, partnering with major universities, and posting excerpts or full versions of books online. With Google Book Search beta, you can either download PDF files of books that aren’t under copyright lock or view book excerpts in PDF. An Advanced Book Search lets you narrow down queries by author, title, date, publisher, and ISBN number.
Search cube – http://www.search-cube.com/
Spezify – http://www.spezify.com/
This search tool presents results from a large number of websites in different visual ways. The engine mixes all media types and make no difference between blogs, videos, microblogs and images. Everything communicates and helps building the bigger picture.
Nexplore - http://www.nexplore.com/
NeXplore Search epitomizes the cutting-edge of meta-search and Web 2.0 technology by delivering to consumers only the most accurate search results pulled from leading search engines with added social networking features. The search has three unique, visually rich search-result display options (summary view, gallery view and line view) and three proprietary drilldown-eliminating website preview options (thumbnail preview, window preview and pane preview), plus an array of innovative and intuitive personalization and social-sharing features, NeXplore Search has change the fast of Internet search. A visually engaging, user-friendly, multi-media interface makes navigation effortless and drill down obsolete. By logging onto NeXplore Search, a user is given a unique experience, unmatched by other search engines. Instead of the boring ‘text-in’, ‘text-out’ internet search experience,
Wiki Mindmap: http://www.wikimindmap.org/
A tool to browse easily and efficiently in Wiki content, inspired by the mindmap technique. Wiki pages in large public wiki’s, such as wikipedia, have become rich and complex documents. Thus, it is not always straight forward to find the information you are really looking for. This tool aims to support users to get a good structured and easy understandable overview of the topic you are looking for.
Accountability tools for policy research – http://www.oneworldtrust.org
This is an online source of accountability tools for organisations conducting policy relevant research. Working with partners across the globe, the project has generated an accountability framework which is sufficiently flexible to apply to many contexts and different organisations, as part of a wider project entitled “Accountability Principles for Research Organisations”.
Processes of innovation and research are fundamental to improvements in quality of life and to creating a better society. But to realise these benefits, the quality of research alone is not enough. Organisations engaged in policy-relevant research and innovation must continually take into account and balance the needs of a diverse set of stakeholders: from the intended research users, to their clients and donors, to the research community and the research participants. Responsiveness to all of these is crucial if they are to be legitimate and effective. In this, accountable processes are as important as high quality research products.
The database is designed to support researchers, campaigners and research managers to think through the way they use evidence to influence policy in an accountable way. The database takes into account that research organisations are increasingly diverse – they are no longer just universities, but private companies, public institutes and non-profit think-tanks. No single framework can encompass this diversity.
This tool supports decision-making by drawing on a series of comparative criteria selected by users, and by proposing relevant case studies and policy briefs. MOST tool enables users to obtain customized comparative reports using criteria such as specific themes, geographical location, target audiences, stakeholders, and numerous other variables. Launched in November 2007, the MOST Tool has been functioning with a series of documents from the UNESCO Forum on Higher Education, Research and Knowledge. Since 2009, the tool proposes 6 thematic collections:
- Knowledge for Higher Education and Research Policy
- Analysis and proposals of Human Rights based measures to combat violence against women
- Building Linkages between Social Science Research and Policy
- Experiences of socio-economic capacity building based on Human Rights for the eradication of poverty
- Regional Integration
- Prevention of youth organized violence
Read the blog post also on the Young Cultural Policy Researchers Forum, LabforCulture: http://www.labforculture.org/en/groups/open/young-researchers-forum/online-tools-facilitating-research/72920
Image credit: Mark A. Hicks, illustrator