Web Links for Global
and Scientific Issues
The first places to go to find out what is going on in the world are the major online news sites:
BBC The major UK site.
CNN The major US site.
Al-Jazeera. The main Arabic site.
There are also websites for the major newspapers. I find the Guardian useful, for a different point of view, but there are many others, and you can choose one which suits your preference.
You can go to Wikipedia to find basic information on almost any topic, but you should notice that it is not normally acceptable to use Wikipedia as a source in academic papers or even, in many cases, in your ordinary homework. Most teachers do not consider that reading what is said on Wikipedia is really research. Research involves going to a variety of different sources and trying to find out the truth about a topic; just reading what is said on Wikipedia isn't enough.
Suppose, for example, that you want to find out about global warming. Wikipedia will give you a useful explanation of the subject, and some starting points for further research. It will tell you how much the world's temperature has increased, and how much scientists think it will continue to rise, and what political action is being taken and so on.
To research the topic properly, though, you need to find out what different people say. For example, Wikipedia will tell you that there is something called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). You might start your research by going to the IPCC website. There you will find that the IPCC was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Again, you will want to check their websites. And will have - should have - questions. Who are these people? What are they trying to do? Where do they get their money? How much influence do they have? Search their websites and try to find the answers.
As well as finding out what these people say about themselves, you will probably want to know what other people say about them. Checking on Google, I found that a man called Warwick Hughes has a lot of arguments criticising the IPCC. And there are many other people who have made websites similar to this.
Now the real research begins! Who is Warwick Hughes? Why does he disagree with the IPCC? Is he right? One thing I can do is search for Warwick Hughes on Google Scholar, to see whether people discuss him and respect him in academic circles. Then, perhaps, I might pick on just one thing he has said and, using Google and Google Scholar, try to find out whether he is likely to be right or not.
Remember, academic research is best when it is narrow and deep. For example, it's too much to try and argue in one paper whether global warming is really happening or not. It would take a whole book to discuss this properly, and even then it would be very hard to make a convincing argument aobout whether increases in temperature are caused by human activity or not.
Just taking one aspect of the topic and focusing on that in detail is enough. So far I have found that some people believe the IPCC is doing useful scientific work, and other people say it is actually blocking real research into the topic. So, what is the truth? I could carry on researching that and try to balance the evidence. Don't be satisfied with easy answers; the good researcher is the person who keep on asking questions, who is not easily persuaded or satisfied, who wants to find out what is really going on.
Whatever topic you are working on - human rights issues, environmental issues, etc. - try to be a good researcher!
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