Doing your research in a MOOC

September 23, 2013 § 4 Comments

Imagine research with no internet...

Imagine research without internet…

You recently started the UvA MOOC ‘Introduction to Communication Science’ (or any other MOOC) and you’re already feeling overwhelmed. So much to learn in a short period of time… Of course, the content available in the MOOC itself it’s enough for you to complete quizzes and the final exam. However, what if you want to explore the topic further? Should you read all texts recommended? Perhaps you’re a professional already and has one specific interest about what other researches are saying about contemporary rhetorical theory… Where should you look? Indeed, there are many sources – from your favorite library to the web. But because MOOCs are mainly online, today I’m going to focus on great open digital resources you can use to enrich your experience in the course.

  1. Google Scholar and Google Books. Ok, let’s face it. On Google you can find anything, everything you want. It’s easy and fast, you simply need to exploit your advanced search and you’ll definitely have relevant results. Google Scholar is similar, but it offers you academic results, which means: theses, articles, books and more. Very often I used this website during my Master, also because it’s always updated and it’s great if you want to see how popular the author is, depending on the number of citations he has. Like in the regular search, you can also create alerts with your keywords, which is helpful if you don’t want to miss new content. Google Books is also great if you want to have a look at publications, know where to find them (physically), or even read entire books for free! Other good sources for e-books are Bookos.org (where you can download in different languages), Project Gutenberg and Amazon.com (where you can look inside and buy).
  2. Academia.edu. This is a sort of social network of academics. Not only you can browse articles and theses, but you also can create your profile, follow other researches and interests, publish your own work and check out who’s reading your paper. Also great to organize and publicize your own work online.
  3. Journals. Also great if you want to read high quality content and be in touch with articles and researches made in great institutions. I recommend International Journal of Communication and Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies  if you’re following the UvA MOOC.
  4. Yippy. Research-oriented search engine, results are divided in topics, which helps a lot when you have a general keyword.
  5. Refseek. Also made to academic research. Gathers websites and documents.
  6. Slideshare. A wide collection of slides. Great for inspirations and to check how people are presenting the topic you’re studying.
  7. Scribd. They claim to be bigger than Library of Congress in US. Not only has books, but documents, presentations and articles. You can also publish there if you want to!

Doing online research can be tiring, but if you use the right tools and explore advanced possibilities (for example quotation marks to look for specific terms), be sure that you’ll find great readings and interesting material. The web has space for a lot of rubbish, but it also offer bytes for open education, culture, history, science and knowledge. You only need to know where to look. 😉 Also, if you’re doing research by yourself it’s interesting to have deadlines for your readings. It’s also useful to organize one day to take the MOOC and one extra day for your own research, if you can. I’m sure your experience with the course will be different! And always remember to share your findings with the class.

Hope you find the list useful. Have any other nice resources in mind? Please let me know and will add to the list.

Thanks Cristiana Sintescu, who shared the great illustration for this post – “School of Athens” by Raphael – in the UvA MOOC.

See in you the class!

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