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Research Sites Can Guide Assignments

Finding topics and content can be easier on the Web.

March 22, 2001|MICHELLE MALTAIS |

The Web isn't all play. Though not the answer to everything, the Web can cut down homework and research time.

Of course, you could just type in a topic at a search engine such as Google (, but there are other spots that can more specifically target your query.

You can start with encyclopedia sites such as

Many sites offer ready-made papers, but we don't recommend using them. Aside from the fact that using pre-written papers is totally dishonest, defeats the purpose of the assignment and could get you in trouble, these papers often are really bad and won't necessarily fit your assignment.

If you don't know where to start, offers a step-by-step approach to researching and writing a paper. Each hyperlink takes you to an explanatory section on topics including how to start researching, organizing and writing your assignment.

You can use to find a topic you like, then click the "Ask elibrary" button. Research Central lets you share tips and advice on everything from finding a topic to getting the best grade.

ITools ( has links to the 2000 edition of the CIA World Factbook.

Another resource, /biography, covers almost 30,000 notable men and women from ancient times to the present. It can be searched by birth years, death years, positions held, professions and achievements.

You can check out the many homework-related sites. In addition to linking to research resources, they often have folks who can answer your questions. A few of them offer instant answers, though most seem to take as long as a day to reply.

* has educational content and provides instant-answer services.

* provides links according to topic and connects you with maps, calculators, conversion tables, dictionaries, encyclopedias, biographies and newspapers.

*, a portal created by a group of librarians at the Ramapo Catskill Library System, provides links to relevant and age-appropriate Web sites.

* is a homework information portal featuring resources for topics such as English, math, science, history, the arts and technology.

* Fact Monster ( offers definitions, details and figures.

* /Schools_Education requires free membership, and your questions are posted publicly.

* tries to provide answers within 24 hours and has decent links.

* ( /bjpinchbeck) has materials for teachers, resources for students and advice for parents about helping their kids.

Its approach is pretty cool. Under the Social Studies heading, for example, is a section for "Understanding Slavery." Users can explore a first-person account of being enslaved on three continents, learn about slavery throughout the world and the ages or "witness" a slave auction. The virtual slave auction prompts users to consider that experience from different perspectives--those of the enslaved people, the slave master and a journalist.


Michelle Maltais is a broadcast producer and copy editor at The Times.

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