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Best Web Sites for High School Research Papers

By Tracey Dowdy

Once upon a time, if you needed to write a paper discussing Shakespeare’s inverse use of light and darkness in Romeo and Juliet (nerd alert: that was my favorite paper in university), one would need to put on pants, leave your house or dorm, trek to the library, thumb through a card catalog, interact with an actual librarian, drag a stack of books to a table and, finally, start reading.

Today, thanks to sites like the Shakespeare Resource Center, everything you need is at your fingertips and you can write that paper sans pants should you so choose.

Keep in mind that finding accurate information is a little more complicated than typing “Romeo and Juliet” into a search engine. Beware of sites like Wikipedia, where anyone can post material. Content may not have been reviewed by experts, so everything presented as fact may not be correct.

Here are my top research web sites for high school students:

The Internet Public Library
IPL2 allows you to search by age group through subjects as diverse as Law, Government & Political Science or Arts and Humanities to Entertainment and Leisure. You have access to special collections, and international newspapers and magazines. You can even “Ask a Librarian” for help with your research.

Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex and its vast resources are at your fingertips.

Bartleby offers unlimited access to information and books as varied as the King James Bible and the works of Sigmund Freud.

Encyclopedia.com offers over 100 trusted sources including dictionaries, thesauruses, and encyclopedias.

More than just definitions and pronunciation guides, Dictionary.com has free software that works with Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com and Reference.com as well as mobile apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.

Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg has over 42,000 free e-books, with an additional 100,000 e-books available through partners, affiliates and resources.

Science Buddies
Science Buddies provides students with a chart outlining how to format your research paper using either the MLA or APA guidelines.

No paper is complete without a bibliography, but tracking your sources and formatting the information correctly can be a challenge. Zotero is a free, user-friendly way to collect, organize, cite, and share sources.

OttoBib allows you to create your bibliography or works cited with just an ISBN. Simply type the number in the box and your bibliography is automatically generated in MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian, BibText or even Wikipedia’s format.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.

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