Need to verify a fact? Find a statistic? Locate the source for a quote? The Web has lots of information in it, but it can be tricky to figure out which information to trust. In this blog post I provide links to websites that are great sources of reliable, authoritative information that you can use when you're doing quick research.
Infoplease is short for “Information Please” - which traces its history back to the radio quiz show of the same name which ran on NBC from 1938 to 1952. The creators of the show later began publishing an almanac, and the website has been online since 1998. It features an almanac, an online version of the Columbia Encyclopedia (6th edition), a dictionary and thesaurus, and more.
Bartleby is a website that provides access to books (mostly older books and classics) on the Web, free of charge. They have an excellent selection of books of quotations, which make it a great site for trying to find a classic quote. Note: most of their sources are from the late 1800s and early 1900s - so if you need a more recent quote, you’ll have to try a different resource, like quotes.dictionary.com (or, of course, you could ask a librarian for help). Notable books available on Bartleby include: Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, the King Jame’s Bible, Oxford Shakespeare, Gray’s Anatomy, and Strunk’s Elements of Style.
This website from Dictionary.com provides many quotes, including 20th century ones, from the Columbia World of Quotations (1996).
Merriam-Webster Online is a great, authoritative online dictionary, based on the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.
State & County QuickFacts by the United States Census Bureau contains all sorts of easy-to-access facts about people, business, and geography in the United States. The main census site, www.census.gov, contains even more information and - although kind of tricky to use - is also a very valuable tool for statistical research.
The Oregon Encyclopedia is a constantly growing encyclopedia of essays on all things related to Oregon. The entries are written by knowledgeable authors and are authorized by editors and fact-checkers before being published. You can even suggest a topic or write your own article!
In a previous blog post (“I can’t use Wikipedia for my research paper! Or can I...”), I talked about how Wikipedia, though it is not always 100% reliable itself, can be used to find sources that you can cite when you’re doing research. When you find an article on a topic of interest, look at the “References” section at the end of the article and follow the links there to see where the article is getting its information.
These are just some of many fantastical information sources online. Do you have one that you like that I didn’t mention? Then add a comment! Also, if you are ever stuck in your search for a fact, quote, or any bit of information, remember that you can always ask a librarian for help.