Step Up Your Adjective Game!

Have you ever written a paper only to realize that you’re using the same, exact vocabulary over and over again? Acknowledged that you’ve totally used words like “logical”, “thorough,” and “crucial” so many times they’ve lost all meaning? Writing a paper for a college class can feel like a bit of a drag sometimes. When you’re working so hard on structure, citations, and formal academic voice, it’s easy to fall into a rut with your writing style.

 For your next paper, it’s time for you to mix it up! Adjectives are the spice cabinet of writing: you can’t have an interesting final product without them. You can also combine them in an infinite number of arrangements for different effects. If you’re tired of the same old words, try out some of these new ideas.

Thesaurus Time

The fastest way to finding new, exciting words to use in your papers? That trusty old friend, the thesaurus. If you’re a little nervous about trying to increase your vocabulary or you can’t think of something off the top of your head, using a thesaurus is a surefire way to ease into it. 

The trick here is to look up the ordinary or overused adjective and find a replacement that is a little more unusual or specific. The thesaurus has a ton of words that you can use to substitute for the same old adjectives—and this trick can work for a noun or verb too! If you’re not sure what to say, just use an “ordinary” word and then replace it with something in the thesaurus.

Pretty can become beautiful, cute, comely, attractive, elegant, or many more. Each of these adjectives is a little more evocative and a little less ordinary than just plain pretty. 

Specificity

The issue with commonly used words is that they’re often on the generic side; switching them out for a different adjective can have the dual benefit of making your writing more interesting and making it more specific. When it comes to academic writing, the second-most important thing is that it’s specific. The most important thing, of course, is that you proofread or run a spelling and grammar check on your paper before turning it in!

Let’s try out an example. Imagine you’re writing a paper, and at a certain point, you want to talk about a scientific discovery.

In 1967, scientists made a big discovery.

There is nothing technically wrong with this sentence, but “big” is one of the most generic adjectives out there. Try to find a substitute that adds nuance to your sentence. Even if it’s not an exact synonym, it’s more important to find an unusual adjective that gives more meaning.

 In 1967, scientists made an extraordinary discovery.

In 1967, scientists made a game-changing discovery.

In 1967, scientists made a tremendous discovery.

Each of these words carries its own connotations that give a little more texture to the sentence, and that’s important for giving readers a sense of what to expect.

A Word of Warning (Caution, Guidance, Advice)

When you’re using unusual adjectives (or nouns, or verbs), it’s easy to get carried away and include really obscure words just for the fun of it or to try to sound extra smart. Doing this, however, usually leads to the exact opposite effect: a paper full of words like pulchritudinous or capacious will often distract from the actual point of the paper and it won’t sound like you wrote it anymore. Try to walk a middle ground between using words that are unusual enough to spice up your writing without intruding on the style and flow of the paper, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you can expand your vocabulary and improve your writing skills!

Now, let’s switch gears and end this post with a friendly reminder to always cite your sources. BibMe.org is here to help you develop your MLA works cited pageAPA reference page, an annotated bibliography, and more! 

SAT Reading Prep You Can Do Daily

Without the stress of group projects, quizzes, or formatting a works cited page, summer is the perfect time to start gearing up for the SAT Reading. Whether you’re on the road or at the beach, there are a few ways you can start prepping bit by bit.

Have you ever read a sentence three times only to find yourself wondering, “what the heck did I just read?” You’re not alone: one of the most common obstacles students encounter in the SAT Reading is remembering information from the passages. 

To help you work on the valuable SAT skill of retaining information, here’s a four-step process you can use to get ready for the fall SAT on a daily basis.

Step One: Figure Out How to Get the Newspaper

To start prepping, all you need is access to a good ol’ fashioned newspaper. You might be thinking, “But no one reads the newspaper anymore!” Here’s the thing: using a newspaper is a great way to prep for the SAT because one newspaper contains articles on all sorts of topics. Just like the SAT, you can read about arts & culture, current events, and more. Plus, an actual newspaper mimics the SAT since both are on paper.

An easy and free way to read the daily paper is to visit your local public library. You can try several different newspapers to see which one you like best.  

 Daily 5 minute task: none – one time task!

Step Two: Get in the Habit of Reading an Article a Day

Once you have access to the newspaper, start reading one article per day. That’s it! Don’t worry if you don’t totally understand the article. Getting in the habit of reading is the important part.

The SAT Reading will ask you to answer questions on different types of passages. To help you prepare, below is a sample weekly schedule of what kinds of articles to read. That way, you can get accustomed to reading about topics that might be unfamiliar.

Sun.

Mon.

Tues.

Wed.

Thurs.

Fri.

Sat.

Arts & culture

International news

Business

National news

Science

Local news

Whatever you like!

Like what you read? Save it to incorporate it into a research paper next year!

Daily 5 minute task: read one article a day

Step Three: Create Your Own Note-Taking System

After getting into the habit of reading an article a day for one week, begin determining your preferred note-taking method. By learning how to take notes in a way that works for you, you’ll retain more information while maintaining test-taking stamina. Taking notes on your daily newspaper article is a great way to practice.  

Most people know that underlining main ideas is helpful. Other ways to take notes include circling proper nouns, dates, and numbers, marking off lists of examples, etc. Feel free to get creative, but keep in mind that you’ll only have your #2 pencil on test day (i.e. don’t use highlighters or multi-colored pens).

 Bonus: learn how to cite sources here.

 Daily 5 minute task: take notes while reading an article

Step Four: Learn How To Identify the Main Idea

Once you’ve gotten used to taking notes while reading your daily article, end your five-minute routine by identifying the article’s main idea. A lot of the SAT Reading questions will ask you to determine the author’s main point, a skill that takes real-time practice.

Keep in mind that the difference between a main topic and main idea is that a topic refers to  the article’s subject matter, whereas the main idea is the argument behind the topic. For example, a science article’s topic may be climate change, but the main idea is that human activity is contributing to climate change.

Daily 5 minute task: write one sentence identifying the main idea after taking notes while reading.

This four-step process over time will help to improve your reading comprehension and retention. Not only will this help you be ready for the SAT Reading, but you’ll also find that you can apply this process to your class readings too! 

ACT Prep You Can Do Daily

By Jillian Schleiden

When you picture studying for the ACT, you might imagine yourself surrounded by piles of books with dark circles under your eyes from the long hours of work. But it doesn’t have to be this way! You can prepare for the ACT bit by bit, everyday. It just requires a little planning and a dash of strategy.

Here’s how you do it: 

1. Choose Your Resources

There’s a positive sea of prep material for the ACT. Walk into a bookstore and you’ll see a dozen manuals, tomes of practice questions, and even more “quick and easy” guides to getting a great score. The good news is, you only need a few specific resources:

  • A book of practice questions
  • A guide to the material covered in the test
  • 2-3 practice tests 

You can usually find these combined in one book, but feel free to mix and match. Make sure your practice tests address specific content areas within each section. For instance, the English section should show you how you did with grammar, as well as main ideas and vocabulary. (For a comprehensive review of parts of speech, check out our pages on conjunctions, nouns, adverbs, and more.)   

The ACT website also offers some free resources for studying, including recommendations for printed materials.

In addition to a book, you’ll likely find it helpful to have:

  • Sticky-note style tab markers for your books
  • A notebook and pen
  • Index cards 

2. Pinpoint Your Weak Areas

The next step is to complete a practice test. Give yourself the same testing set-up as you’ll have on the real test. This means:

  • Basic calculator only
  • No resource materials outside of what the test provides
  • No phone or other devices
  • Time limit per section

Make sure you take the test somewhere you won’t be disturbed so the setting is as realistic as possible. If you really want to be on the ball, take it in the morning. This will be especially enlightening for you if you’re not a morning person!

 Grade your test and then analyze the areas where you need the most work. Self-grading the essay portion can be a challenge, but you can ask a friend or parent to grade yours against the ACT rubric, as well as run it through our grammar checker to spot writing mistakes.

 Rank the test areas from “Help, I have no clue what I’m doing” to “I can do this in my sleep.”

3. Create Your Guide

Get out those fancy colored tabs you purchased and the study guide you chose. Color code the areas you just ranked. Your weakest areas could be red, your strongest areas could be green, and so on. Choose up to five colors.

Now, create your schedule for the week. Plan a day each week to review the areas where you already do well. Then, give two to three days to the areas where you really struggle, and the last day or two days to the middle areas. You won’t need to spend much time each day studying if you’re being this strategic.

From here, the way you attack the material at hand is up to you. You can:

  • Work from the beginning to the back of the material by color code
  • Work by subject area each week (if certain areas are a big struggle for you)
  • Start with the familiar material and work your way into the unfamiliar

Stick with your schedule every day! This daily routine is what saves you from long study sessions.

4. Study smart

Research has shown that trying to answer questions, even when you’re really not sure, and then checking your work is one of the most successful ways to learn. This is why there are so many books of practice questions! Add at least five practice questions to your studies each day.

As you create your study schedule, remember to review any test-taking vocabulary you need to know. Formal test taking language may vary from what you learn in high school. Flashcards are an easy way to master these words. If you have someone in your life willing to help, use one of your study days to have them check you card by card.

5. Re-check and Repeat

About halfway through your summer break, take another practice test in the same setting. Keeping the variables the same gives you more honest results.

You’ll see that you have new areas of need because you’ve started to master the old areas. Go back through your guide book and practice questions and reassign your colors and days of work. Now keep at it until the end of the summer!

By carefully structuring what material you study by day, you’ll master new material without forgetting the old. Long hours of cram sessions are not needed to master the ACT!    


Still need to create citations? BibMe is here for you. Learn how to cite a website in MLA
 (or another style), create an APA title page, review our annotated bibliography example, and more!

4 Simple Steps to Writing a Good Thesis Statement

What is a Thesis Statement Exactly?

A thesis statement is a single sentence that explains the argument you want to present in a paper. It is most often located in the first or second paragraph of your paper. If your paper is a tree, the thesis statement is the single seed it grows from.

You Mentioned an Argument? Do I Have to Argue?

Most academic outlets expect that you will present an argument. It is not sufficient to simply report what you have read. You must take it a step further and come to a conclusion based on the information you have gathered. This conclusion is your thesis and your paper is your defense of the thesis.

Tip: If you are not sure if your paper needs a thesis, ask your instructor.

Ok, so How Do I Write a Thesis Statement?

Follow our easy steps.

Step #1: Research First

Students often make the mistake of coming up with a thesis before doing any research. A better method is to begin with research in your field of study and look for patterns or themes. Not only does this make proving your thesis easier, it also prevents you from tunnel vision that could result in your arguing a thesis that is not true.

Step #2 Inspiration List

As you research, write down any ideas or themes that you notice as you go along. Look for subjects that are recurring, interesting or controversial. As an example, let’s say you are researching street art and graffiti you might write down the following:

  • Some people love street art and others think it is vandalism.
  • Certain cities seem to attract street artists more than others.
  • Street art and graffiti are not considered the same thing.
  • More visible and public areas are prized by street artists.
  • Street art can be viewed for free.

 Tip: Keep track of where you found your most compelling research; it’s not crazy to start building a works cited page in MLA or an APA reference page this early. It just means that once you are ready to write your thesis statement, you’ll already have everything you need to build an outline for the rest of your paper.

 Step #3 Get Creative

Take a look at your inspiration list and try to draw a unique conclusion that you have not already read about. When it comes to papers, creative ideas that can be supported by strong evidence are optimal. Based on our list, we could reasonably argue that:

Street art is the most accessible modern artform. 

#4 Test It

If you can answer yes to all of the following questions, your thesis statement is ready.

Could someone reasonably dispute your thesis?

Someone could argue that the sky is green, but it is not reasonable.

Is your thesis provocative or compelling?

Interesting ideas make reading more fun for your grader, which means a better grade for you.

Is there enough research to support your argument?

A thesis is only as good as the research it is built on. Make sure that there’s enough credible information to support your research paper topic.

Is your thesis statement simple to understand?

If your statement is too long or meandering take some time to edit down to a more basic version.

Remember: a thesis statement is a research-based opinion. Keep it clear and concise and you are on your way to a strong final paper.

Want guidance on your writing? Looking for a quick plagiarism or grammar check? Or maybe you need to build citation in Chicago Manual of Style or another format. Try BibMe Plus today for help with all of it!

6 Tips to Getting the Most Out of Your Summer Job or Internship

Ahhh, it’s summer. It may be break time for most, but you have ambitiously taken on a summer job or internship. Congrats! It can provide a great opportunity to prepare for life after college as long as you make the most of your experience.

Summer jobs and internships aren’t just about putting cash in the bank—they’re also about learning what you’d like to do professionally and developing skills that enhance your education.

Here are six tips for ensuring that your summer job or internship is worthwhile, both for you and for the company at which you’re working.

If you have to write articles, lessons, or reports for your summer job or internship, it never hurts to have an extra proofread of your drafts. That’s why BibMe Plus offers a grammar checker to help spot errant grammar and potential mistakes before anyone else (like your manager) does.

1. Set Goals For Yourself

Before the summer begins, write out a list of what you hope to achieve from your job or internship. Come up with 1-2 tangible skills you’d like to develop by the time the summer ends, and share these goals with your employer. Feel free to add on to this list throughout the summer, or revise if you find yourself assigned different tasks than what you initially accepted to be doing.

Bonus: Propose or keep track of projects you can potentially add to your portfolio at the end of the internship. For example, published articles if you are studying journalism, or lesson plans you drafted as a student teacher.

2. Find Tasks to Do

It’s good to listen to your manager, but being proactive can also pay off. Especially if you find yourself sitting around scrolling through social media for the umpteenth time. Take the initiative to talk to your boss about what else you can be doing to help out and, if possible, make suggestions based on what you’ve seen at the company and what your capabilities are.

3. Be Positive

As an intern or summer employee, you may find yourselves tasked with mundane things like grabbing coffee, cleaning the file cabinet or updating an Excel spreadsheet. When asked by a superior to do these things, cheerfully agree and ask if there’s anything more you can do. Take every opportunity that comes your way gladly. Seize whatever opportunities you’re given and go above and beyond the call to show your full potential.

4. Make Connections

Now’s the time be chatty. At your job or internship, introduce yourself to as many people as you can to help grow and develop your professional network. Add your supervisor and others from your company on LinkedIn, and think about who you’d be able to use as a reference or have write a recommendation letter for you. After you graduate, these connections could prove instrumental in finding a job.

5. Take Notes

You probably aren’t going to remember every single thing you’ve worked on over the course of the summer off the top of your head—and that’s OK (and normal). Jot down notes at the end of each week about what you did and what you liked/disliked. Later, this will be helpful when revising your resume and figuring out whether you’d like to do something similar after graduation.

6. Ask for Feedback

Although it’s valuable to self-reflect on your own performance, it’s perhaps more helpful to receive feedback from your superiors. Schedule a chat with your manager to discuss what you’ve been doing well and where they see room for improvement. As someone who is more experienced in the industry, your boss will be in a good position to assess your performance.

Citing work for your job, internship, or class? Don’t stress! Visit BibMe.com for help easily creating APA citations, a works cited page in MLA, in-text citations and more!

The Four Kinds of Plagiarism a Plagiarism Checker Can Catch

You’ve probably heard from your teacher that plagiarizing can lead to serious academic consequences. Plagiarism is the act of copying or including information from someone else’s work in your own paper without giving that person proper credit. Thankfully, there are tools available to help you make sure you haven’t committed plagiarism, such as the plagiarism checker located right here on BibMe.

So what kinds of plagiarism can these tools catch? Read on for some details and tips.

1) Copy and pasted sections

Students frequently copy information from an online source and paste it into a draft of their paper. Sometimes this is done on purpose, but it can also be an accident, as the student may just want to use the snippet for organizational or research purposes. The problem is, it becomes very easy to forget to remove, change, or cite sources before handing in the paper. Plagiarism checkers, however, can detect this type of plagiarism, whether it was intentional or not.

2) Uncited quotes

Quotes are frequently used as evidence for an argument in research or literary analysis papers. What can be tricky, however, is remembering to properly cite each quote, no matter how small. It can be easy to forget to write these down, and a plagiarism checker is a great resource to check for any missing citations near quotation marks in your paper.

3) Uncited links

Websites can be great places to start research on a topic, giving you a wealth of information almost instantaneously. Be mindful that you can’t just copy a link into your paper as a reference, however. These do not count as proper citations, and must be formatted correctly in MLA style, APA, or any other format your teacher asks for. Plagiarism checkers can flag these links and suggest that you create a citation for them.  

4) Accidental

Not all plagiarism is deliberate. Often students simply forget to include proper citations, or they mistakenly include copied text in their paper. These accidents can unfortunately be very harmful to your grade and academic record. Thankfully, plagiarism checkers can be a second line of defense, along with careful note-taking so you don’t lose track of sources.

Want to check your paper for possible plagiarism? Check out the Plagiarism and Grammar Checker on BibMe! This fantastic tool is a student’s best friend, as it can help to check for instances of plagiarism, provide instant grammar improvement suggestions, and let you add any forgotten citations directly into your paper.

Wrapping up a paper? Try BibMe’s grammar and plagiarism check!

Summer Book List for People Who Hate Reading

If you’ve spent the school year wading through The Odyssey or surviving Dante’s Inferno, you might be tempted to limit your reading to Twitter now that school’s out for the summer. But long layovers and lazy days at the beach are perfect opportunities to turn on your tablet or pick up a paperback and indulge in some reading that’s a little lighter than that stats textbook you hope to never see again.

Here are seven suggestions, ranging from new novels to collections of modern short stories, essays, and other selections that can be consumed in a single sitting. Warning: pick one up, and you might start hoping for rainy days and cancelled plans.

If you have a short attention span…

Fresh Ink – Edited by Lamar Giles

On sale: August 14, 2018

This anthology includes writing from 13 of the nation’s best-known young adult authors, but will appeal to readers ranging from age 12 to 99 according to Random House, its publisher. Produced in partnership with the non-profit We Need Diverse Books, Fresh Ink features 10 short stories, a graphic novel and a one-act play that touch on timely topics including acceptance, gentrification, and coming out.


If you’re craving a juicy thriller…

Tell Me Lies – By Carola Lovering

On sale: June 12, 2018

This debut novel is a coming-of-age tale told in alternating points of view by a couple locked in a toxic romance. Lucy Albright knows there’s something off about charming, complicated, and oh-so-attractive Stephen DeMarco. But she can’t quite seem to kick her addictive attraction through college and their post-college years in New York City—even when the connection might lead to dire consequences.


If you love a good essay…

Look Alive Out There – By Slone Crosley

Published: April 3, 2018

Slone Crosley is considered a modern master of the witty one-liner. Reviews of her latest essay collection indicate she’s continued that signature style in Look Alive Out There, where essays cover everything from mountain climbing to mortality. Those who enjoy her humorous voice but prefer subjects that seem a little more like dessert than the main course might try her first book of best-selling essays, I Was Told There Would Be Cake. Another bonus: these personal pieces might sharpen your essay-writing skills, helping you wow teachers and admissions officers long after summer’s over. (Don’t forget to give it a polish by running it through BibMe’s grammar checker!)


If you can’t stop reading the news…

The Hate U Give – By Angie Thomas

Published: February 28, 2017

This best-selling book might seem more fact than fiction considering it’s about a teen, Starr Carter, who witnesses her unarmed childhood best friend being shot and killed by a cop. The event sets off a collision between Starr’s weekday world, a majority-white private school, and the poverty-plagued urban neighborhood where she lives. So, although it’s classified as a young-adult novel, The Hate U Give covers some heavy topics—no surprise given the fact it takes its name from the acronym behind rapper Tupac Shakur’s profane and profound THUG LIFE tattoo. A movie version of the novel is scheduled for release in October, so read it before it hits the screen!   


If you wished books still came with pictures…

Come Again – By Nate Powell

On sale: July 31, 2018

Artist and author Nate Powell shared the 2016 National Book Award for March: Book Three, the last book in a series created by Powell, Andrew Aydin, and U.S. Congressman John Lewis chronicling two pivotal years in the civil rights movement. Come Again, Powell’s first solo graphic novel in seven years, doesn’t cover such weighty subject matter, but still showcases the author’s vivid approach to character-driven comics in a fictional tale of two families grappling with some long-hidden secrets within a 1960s-style “intentional community” in the Ozarks mountains.

If you loved The Hunger Games…

The Darkest Minds – By Alexandra Bracken

Published: October 22, 2013 (paperback)

In the not-too-far-away future, a mysterious disease wipes out 98 percent of America’s 10- to 17-year-olds. The ones who survive all have unique abilities that scare the government enough to imprison them in “rehabilitation camps.” But some manage to escape to go in search of East River, a haven for special survivors like them. The Darkest Minds is the oldest book on this list, but a movie based on the dystopian thriller is slated for release in August and stars Amandla Stenberg, best known for playing Rue in another futuristic film based on a best-seller—The Hunger Games.


If you need a good laugh…

Rhett & Link’s Book of Mythicality: A Field Guide to Curiosity, Creativity, and Tomfoolery – By Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal

Published: October 10, 2017

This book by the team behind the YouTube talk show Good Mythical Morning features stories and photos from Rhett and Link’s lifelong tomfoolery-fueled friendship as well as charts, illustrations, and activities designed to get you “laughing more, learning more, and never taking yourself too seriously” according to the description on the book publisher’s page. Highlights include Character Building: The Board Game and a list of grownup merit badges you can earn. If one of them is “Read a Book for Fun Over the Summer,” you can check it off the list.

If you need to get the skinny on how to cite a book or create an annotated bibliography, check out BibMe’s other resources—not to mention our easy (and free) citation generator!

Become an Internet Search Ninja With These 5 Advanced Tips

Don’t let the simple, stark white, ad-free homepage of Internet search engines deceive you. They have the potential to convince a novice user that it’s a basic research service. The truth is, it is anything but basic. Google, along with Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines, has the ability to turn millions of unwanted search results into a refined set of options. How? With some simple tricks and hacks included in this article.

Continue reading to unlock the magic and become an Internet search ninja! If you’re searching for information for a research paper, don’t forget to start citing sources (usually in MLA format or APA style). It’ll help you keep track of what you found and save you the headache of trying to remember and cite information later.

Hack #1: Use Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are words added into search strings to help narrow, broaden, or refine results. The three words used for this function are and, not, and or.

When to use Boolean operators:

  • when you want two or more keywords included in the search results
  • when you want to exclude certain words from the search results
  • when you want to account for similar terms and broaden your search

To combine two search terms, place the conjunction AND in between both words or phrases. The results will show websites that include both terms in the page’s content.

Cell phones AND brain cancer

Chicken AND waffles

To exclude certain words from the search results, add the adverb NOT before the term you’d like to exclude. The results will show websites that do not include that term in the results.

Meatballs NOT pork

This search will display sites that include information about meatballs, but the word “pork” is not included anywhere on the page.

Note: Google does not recognize the term “NOT.” Instead, use a hyphen before the word you’d like to exclude.

Meatballs -pork

To account for similar keywords and synonyms, place OR between words. The results will show websites that include one word or the other.

democracy OR commonwealth OR self-government

Hack #2: Related Websites


Ever feel as though you’ve found the perfect website and you’d love to see others like it? Try adding the word “related” into the Google search bar, follow it with a colon, and add the site you’d love to see a clone of.

related:YouTube.com

related:ESPN.com

Hack #3: Synonym Searching With ~

If your searches don’t seem to be producing what you were expecting, you no longer need to head back to the search bar to try out similar keywords. Take away the effort of substituting and modifying your keywords by inserting a tilde (~) before one of your search terms. This symbol, used before a word, prompts Google to search for synonyms.

Side effects of ~pain relievers

This search string will search for side effects of pain relievers, side effects of painkillers, side effects of pain medications, etc.

Hack #4: Search by Date Range

It’s possible to search for articles from a specific date range. This feature is especially handy if you’re looking for an article published on a particular date or you’re looking for updated or newly released articles.

Google provides the option to search for posts, articles, or websites published in the past hour, past 24 hours, past week, past month, past year, or, you can define a custom date range.

To use this feature, search as you normally would, and at the top of the results page, click “Tools.” Use the drop down menu under “Any time” to choose a date or date range.

Hack #5:  Search for a specific word in the title

If you’re attempting to locate articles, posts, or websites that have a specific word or words in the title, it’s possible in Google with the intitle command. Type intitle, add a colon directly after it, and add your search term. Google will only display results that include that specific word in the title.

Back to the Future intitle:Michael J. Fox

This search will display articles about Back to the Future, with Michael J. Fox’s name in the title.

Diabetes intitle:candy

Search results will display articles about diabetes, with the word candy in the title.

Now that you’ve learned some nifty Internet search hacks, try them out! Use these tricks and tips next time you have a big assignment or when you’re simply searching for fun. They’ll save you time and energy, which is always appreciated.

The Mysterious (but Awesome) Invisible Web

If you’ve done a research paper before (we bet you have) then you know there are a TON of different types of sources you can use to conduct research. This can make it difficult to zero in on relevant information. Using the same search term over and over again tends to just bring up the same old results.

But what if there was a side of the Internet that was somewhat hidden, yet contained valuable information on your topic? Good news: there is! It’s called the “Invisible Web,” and it’s not as scary as it sounds.

What is the Invisible Web?

The “invisible web” might sound like a mysterious weapon, or a book you have to read for class, but it’s actually much cooler than that. The term “invisible web” refers to sources, like databases, that search engines do not have direct access to, or cannot display results for.

For example, if you were to type in the word “cat” into Google, you would most likely see a list of pages from the visible web, such as Wikipedia, with information about cats. What you wouldn’t see, however, is the information about cats contained in databases.

Databases usually have curated content that is fairly credible and relevant to your research topic. However, you wouldn’t normally have access to or find this content via the visible web since databases generally block software “spiders,” employed by search engines, that search the web for page results. Tip: Teachers love it when you include databases in your works cited page or APA reference page.

How Can I Access the Invisible Web?

Don’t worry, the invisible web may be “hidden,” but it is not completely inaccessible! You can access information from databases by searching with very specific terms. Here are some of the best places to start:

For government sources: USA.gov

This is the official web portal for the US government. It contains a wealth of information and lists of places to find sources such as historical government documents and photographs.

For topics in the humanities: Voice of the Shuttle

Originally a web project created by scholars at the University of California, this site is a concise guide to reliable sources in the humanities, such as Philosophy, Anthropology, and History,

For topics in the sciences: Web of Science

This subscription service provides direct access to research publications, and houses access to over 18,000 scientific journals.

Want more? Visit your local public library or school library website to see what databases they offer to their patrons. Many offer access to databases you’d otherwise have to pay for. If you have trouble finding or using databases, find a librarian to help you out—they’re the best!

Why Should I Use it for Writing Research Papers?

Using the invisible web for your research paper will help your work stand out. While it is pretty simple to type in a keyword into a search engine, it shows initiative when you expand your search to other sources. You will also reduce the risk of repeating the same references as your classmates!

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Easily cite sources as you research, then scan your paper for errors with BibMe Plus’s grammar and plagiarism checker. Spot potential errors, find quotes that may need to be cited, and start building a stronger paper today!

Adverbs: To Use or Not To Use?

Hemingway abhorred them. Stephen King famously quipped, “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” If there can be such a thing as a controversial part of speech, adverbs probably are it.  

On the one hand, adverbs can be useful tools to enhance your writing. They can convey important information about how something is said or done, which can completely change the meaning or add more layers of significance. On the other hand, adverbs can clog up writing, become repetitive, and turn into shortcuts that cover up for lazy writing elsewhere.

So, should you use adverbs? We’ll look at both sides and let you decide!

Adverbs: The Case In Favor

Adverbs are like the spices in your kitchen cupboard: you can do without them, but if they’re used in the right amount, they can elevate the end product from “just fine” to exciting.

In essence, an adverb is meant to enhance the context around a verb – typically an action verb – by adding information about how an action is performed.

 The ideal teaching candidate will communicate ideas efficiently.

Please speak slowly – German is my second language and I can’t always keep up.

 They also can modify adjectives, usually by denoting degrees or emphasis.

 The new graduates were extremely happy.

When used properly, adverbs genuinely enhance or clarify the meaning of verbs, adjectives, or sentences. On a larger scale, they might create tension, foreshadowing, or suggestions about a character.

 For instance, let’s say there’s a character who performs a morally shady action and whose motivations are, at that point in the story, a bit murky. If they perform that action verb “slowly” or “deliberately,” that might suggest to the reader that they’re enjoying the villainous action. If they perform that action “hurriedly” or “distractedly,” that same action suddenly might be cast as something the character finds distasteful or is being forced to do.

They can also reflect priorities, as in the “job listing” example above. Being able to communicate “efficiently” draws focus to that qualification, implying its importance as opposed to other qualities not named.

Used sparingly and with specific goals in mind, adverbs can be a real asset to your writing. And yet many successful writers still disparage them as the root of all writing evil. Why?

Adverbs: The Case Against

At some point, you’ve probably read a paragraph like this:

She quickly locked the door.

 “Do we actually think we can pull this off?” she said doubtfully. She looked up at him worriedly. His face creased suddenly.

 “We have to,” he said, quietly but certainly.

That was annoying to read, wasn’t it? That’s a prime example of how adverbs can clutter up writing and produce the exact opposite effect the writer wants.

When we look at many adverb examples, we often see instances where writers use adverbs as a sort of shortcut to “spice up” writing that could be much more concise. Instead of using words that carry their own connotations, writers often use adverbs as the quickest way to add description to a sentence.

Compare the above adverb examples to something like this:

“Do you actually think we can pull this off?” she asked. Her voice was trembling almost as much as her hands were, and she avoided his gaze.

 A crease appeared on his face.

 “We have to,” he muttered.

 The second version – though perhaps not exactly cliché-free either – avoids a bunch of adverbs while also giving us more information in the implications of the words. “Muttered,” for instance, gives us a sense that perhaps the male character is reluctant or cynical, rather than the muddled “quietly but certainly.”

There are also instances where adverbs add information that already is in the sentence.

“Give that back!” she shouted menacingly.

He sidled down the corridor sneakily.

 “Shouted” already implies a degree of menace or anger, while “sidled” implies a sneaky action, making “sneakily” redundant. They’re not technically incorrect, but they’re not strong writing.

 Conclusion

You don’t need to strip your writing of all adverbs, unless you really want to. But just like it’s always a good idea to check for proper use of MLA style or APA format, check for adverb usage! A good rule of thumb is to try to eliminate around a third to half of the adverbs from your first draft. Use them sparingly, and you’ll find yourself with interesting yet concise writing!