Research Aid

This will probably be of no interest to the non-students in my readership, but I feel compelled to pass it on anyway...
If you are called upon to write academic papers, you know that collecting the data in one place can be a pain. If you were in school before the coming of teh intertubez, you will remember trying to organize stacks of index cards and piles of xerox copies so you could write your draft. You might also remember counting the lines of your rough draft so you could get your footnotes to fit on the bottom of the page, or formatting your paper through cutting and pasting - with actual scissors and paste.

I remember. I remember transcribing quotations by hand directly from books onto index cards along with the citation information. Imagine my surprise when I found a service that will insert the quote into your document for you along with parenthetical or footnote style citation, keep track of all sources used, and then create the bibliography for you.

Questia does that, and a lot more. It is an online library with more than 67,000+ books, and 1,500,000+ journal, magazine, and newspaper articles and approximately 7000 reference bibliographies on frequently researched topics. You can organize the books you need into a virtual bookshelf for easy reference, and you can create folders for multiple projects. The books are reproduced with the original pagination so you can cite them accurately, and the software records every citation as you go, so you can create a bibliography instantly, in MLA, APA, Turabian, Chicago, or ASA style.

I just used it to write a paper on Freud's view of religion as presented in his book, The Future of an Illusion. While reading the text in their library, you simply highlight the section you wish to quote and select the style of citation you need - Questia downloads it to your Word document in the proper format. Can't remember where your quote is? The entire text is searchable.

The only catch is that it is not a free service. It's $19.95 a month - or $44.95 per quarter, or $99.95 per year (there is "lifetime" membership of $399.95, too). I estimate that it shaved about two hours off the writing time for this last paper, so it is absolutely worth $20 a month to me.

There's also a referral system; you can get months of service for free by getting your friends to sign up. They put your username down as the referrer (mine is LinusF if you are so inclined) and Questia credits your account.

Ok, my nerdy gushing about this is over now. Not my best post ever, but at least it's not about cheese...

6 comments:

Big Gay Jim said...

Ah, note cards, bibliography cards, and the joys of old school research papers. Sounds like a neat tech-based time saver. I never found citations to be that tough, so I dunno if I'd bother with the subscription myself. Much more interesting than odd cheeses. I fear what might be next. Head cheese? Blood sausage? Registering as a Republican? ;)

His Sinfulness said...

Registering as a Republican?! Now you've ruined my lunch...
;)

Flynn said...

I wish I had found this resource while doing my papers on manuscript illuminations. JSTOR works, but the number of scholarly papers makes finding print references difficult... even if you have the book (or in my case, know of the books but can't get them in BFE). Next time I'm compiling a research paper on the Grotesques in the marginalia of 14th century bestiaries I'll give this a go.

Nerdygirl said...

...I think I have to be alone for a minute...

Mayren said...

Thank you for the awesome link!
I'll check it out for my future classes.

Big Gay Jim said...

Ew! I almost got NerdyGasm on me. You know how that stains! It's almost as bad as when Squid inks!

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