Doing research online has become an easy way to get access to a wealth of articles, journals and news. While the Law Library has an excellent collection of research tools and resources, we at Instructional Technology have a few exciting ways to use online tools to do research.
Imagine being able to check all the most recent updates to your favorite websites, just like you check you email, in one location. Many websites produce an RSS feed that can allow you to do this. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Essentially an RSS feed allows you to focus on the content of a website without all of the ads and formatting.
Where RSS feeds become really powerful though is when you combine them with an RSS aggregator. By using an RSS Aggregator you can subscribe to RSS feeds from many different websites and see all the most recent posts in one locations. For example, if you check the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and CNN websites multiple times a day that adds up to a lot of web surfing. Instead you can subscribe to their RSS feeds and go to one website and all day long see the most recent articles.
Using search engines to stay on top of research and news is becoming a common practice. At the same time it can be frustrating to do the same search over and over again, just to see if there are new results.
If you use Google for your searching then you can create a search alert to solve this problem. Setting up search alerts gives you the option to see the most recent search results in a daily or weekly email. You can even receive updates as an RSS feed to easily stay of top of new web links.
To set up a Google Alert visit, http://www.google.com/alerts
Google is great for general web searches but not always for academic material. Try using Google Scholar to help narrow your search. You can even specify a search for legal opinions and journals. Just like Google Alerts you can have an email sent to you with the most recent results from a past search as well.
To try Google Scholar visit, http://scholar.google.com/
Twitter is becoming an important resource for seeing what people are talking about. Twitter trends are popular words or tags that are being written about hundreds of thousands of times on their website. By doing a quick search on a topic in Twitter you can quickly see what people are writing about it. You can also see what types of things are sparking peoples interest by viewing the most popular trends on Twitter.
A great example would be to see what people are writing about on SOPA or how the public perceives other important trials or legislations.