Sunday, December 16, 2007

Online references for written sources

Here's the dilemma: you've got a paper due, and you waited longer than you should have to gather sources. You need some additional resources but don't have time to wait for library holds to come in. Sometimes having a source to cite is all you need. This works really well if you have a quote from somewhere else, i.e. a web page or Wikipedia (which instructors are beginning to hate as references).

Here are two options: Google Books and

Google Books and Amazon allow you a limited preview of some titles. Both sites allow you to search inside these previews. Do a search for the text string you're looking for. You can note the page number of your quote, pull up the publication info from the copyright page and voila, you have your source.

For example, I found a web page with an excerpt from The Technological Society by Jacques Ellul. I checked the local library, and they have the book, but it's in their maintenance facility. Argh. So I search for the title on Google Books and Amazon. Both services allow you to search inside. Both sites give you limited access to the text (Amazon more generously so) and page number.

By the way, I did pick up this book from a local college library, and it looks very promising. Anyone who feels like a slave to technology - a maintainer of tools rather than a user of them - will immediately see the implications of this work. It was written years ago and then translated from French, but Ellul's prescience is amazing.

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