First up this week: Wikipedia!!
Though the recipient of numerous scathing remarks about unreliability as a source and despite my old teacher’s comments about how the general public can edit articles so obviously all the information is tarnished, I love Wikipedia. It’s a collaboration of numerous authors to bring together key information about all sorts of topics. Wikipedia is often a starting point of research when trying to gauge an initial impression and summary of a subject. These also have to be well referenced and are often verified by other users.
Why shouldn’t we use Wikipedia as a start for gaining factual information? I personally will usually start by looking up information here. It also provides a good platform for discussion and encourages disagreement and the opportunity to corroborate findings from elsewhere. Any good researcher knows that information should be compiled from multiple sources anyway. (I have seen evidence on here that Will Smith originated from a small village called Roche in Cornwall, among other amusing edits!). I fully intend to donate some money to Wikipedia once I’m graduated as a thank you for all the help it has given me throughout my academic career.
Exploring images online
Images are quickly becoming a quick and easy way to express yourself and interests online through a variety of social media. These may well be a useful tool for use in research, for myself, I’m not convinced an image of a lab will become as popular as an artistic sweeping panorama of the coast or some cute puppies! But still, a useful tool for finding and sharing nonetheless. For my personal use I already regularly use instagram as a way to share my life with family and friends. For a more professional use this could also be a useful platform for updates on my work. Also commonly used is Flickr, which is something I’ve looked into this week. However, I also have a Google account and my phone linked to photo storage online for Picasa, so will most likely continue to use this for storage of my few photos.
Finding presentations and podcasts
Online resources for sharing information and learning are also incredibly useful in the from of short presentations. I myself regularly use YouTube as a source to find quick tutorial videos on a topic to increase my own understanding. This was particularly useful for exam revision as an undergrad! Podcasts aren’t something I’ve explored much myself but may definitely be a useful way to spend dead time on the train coming into work. Hello BBC or TED Talk downloads.