Online research is simply research that you do online. In this case, research means searching for published (and sometimes unpublished) material on a particular topic. It is sometimes called “searching the literature” (as in “literature on a topic” rather than “English literature”). “Online research” could mean experimentation or scientific observation conducted online (such as observing the search habits of college students), but that isn’t what this Toolkit is about.
What do you need to do online research?
Online research is very like “on ground” research. The requirements are the same: accuracy, honesty, scholarship. Even many of the methods are the same: database searching is practically required for all library research these days. However, pure online research does require some modifications, especially if you have no access to a physical library that meets your needs. Online research may also be complicated by collaboration with colleagues with whom you cannot physically meet. Luckily, there are many tools that can help, and more are being created daily.
I have tried to limit these tools to those that are free on the web, or at least free to the student. I may include relatively inexpensive tools when something is especially good or unique. I am also trying to limit to those that are not browser specific (i.e. only Internet Explorer) and to those that don’t require downloading software.