Websites have become increasingly common on the Internet and are usually found using search engines. Websites are made to fulfill different purposes, whether it is to communicate messages, promote a non-profit's cause, promote a for-profit's brand, educate citizens through a government research page, or provide information about an educational institution.
Source: The Learning Portal
Grey literature is information that is published by authors (individuals, organizations, associations, etc.) rather than commercial publishers in order to reach a wider audience and share the information more quickly than by publishing in a book or journal.
Grey literature includes:
A potential benefit of grey literature is that it may avoid publication bias by presenting both positive and negative results. While grey literature may be considered "official", it may or may not be considered scholarly or academic and should be evaluated.
Open access journals are online academic journals that researchers can access free of charge. Often, these journals are peer-reviewed; however, some open access journals select and evaluate articles using an editorial team. Open access resources often extend beyond academic journals and may include: conference papers, theses, monographs, book chapters, and images.
There are multiple types of open access; however, we will focus on three:
Gold OA journals are publications in which articles are made free to access immediately upon publication. An example of Gold OA is the International Journal of STEM Education published by Springer Open.
Green OA refers to the process of authors opting to self-archive their academic works in repositories, independent of a publisher. An example of Green OA is Fanshawe's FIRST Repository in which students, staff, and faculty can upload their academic work.
Hybrid OA journals are publications that combine open access with paywalls (closed access). Often, only some individual articles are made open access.
Open access publishing is an incredibly legitimate resource used in research all over the world. Some major benefits of open access include:
Newspapers and magazines are forms of periodicals that report on current news and trends within regular (daily, weekly, etc.) publications. Traditionally, news and magazine articles were published in a physical format; however, most news and magazine outlets employ a hybrid model consisting of both physical and digital publications.
News and magazine content are intended for a broad audience. For this reason, news and magazine articles are not considered scholarly resources.
Social sites consist of:
These resources are great for quickly learning about a subject; however, as content is self-published on these sites, be wary about including them as references in your research paper.
Search engines crawl existing webpages using web crawlers that scan website content. This information is then indexed and stored in a database for retrieval at a later date. Once a user types in search terms, the search engine then searches through its database and retrieves a set of results. These results are usually sorted by relevancy based on the user's search terms.
The most common search engines include:
Academic search engines function similarly to regular search engines (e.g., Google, Yahoo); however, their purpose is to retrieve academic search results to user queries.
Many of the results retrieved from academic search engines are open access documents. These documents are not always final versions of research articles - often, they tend to be pre-print (author manuscript prior to peer-review) and post-print (an article after it has been accepted for publication but before formatting) copies of research articles.
Having issues with paywalled (not free) journal articles? Unpaywall is a Chrome browser extension that searches across its vast database of open access (free) articles to provide you with an article you can use. Unpaywall is easy to download and is completely legal.
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