• Online Research Aids

last modified May 29 by strypey

This is a place to list tools that are useful to investigators and researchers, in alphabetical order.

 Website Archiving Tools

These tools can take a public copies of web pages, in case they are taken down or changed, or the domain name fees don't get paid, or any of the many reasons web pages or their contents can vanish off the web.  It's particularly useful for items that may be removed from a website (or the whole site taken down) due to either censorship, or incompetence. It's also handy for sites which don't have robust permalinks for items they publish, and for blogs and news sites where the content of each page changes frequently and older items can be difficult to find.
  • Archive.is: can be used to take a snapshot of individual web pages, not whole sites. Links on the page will point to the original, not to an archived version. Otherwise, the snapshots are similar to a screenshot, in that interactive features or embedded media (like YouTube videos) won't work, and may or may not be correctly copied.
  • DOI.org: a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is a persistent link (or PURL), usually to an article from a peer-reviewed academic journal, or some other scholarly work. Whichever version the DOI points to is the official version, and this can be updated when websites are reorganized or documents moved. For example, https://www.doi.org/10.1000/182 will always point to the official version of the DOI Handbook. If a document you want to link to has a DOI, using that instead of the current URL makes your link less likely to rot over time.
  • Perma.cc: like Archive.is, this can can be used to take a snapshot of individual web pages, but it's aimed more at scholars and lawyers than the general web user. If you want to be able to preserve more than 10 records per month, you need to pay for a premium account, unless you can use one of the unlimited gratis accounts they offer to "academic journals and faculty members affiliated with any registrar library". If not, Perma.cc could still be useful if you want to link to a page that someone else has already archived there.
  • WaybackMachine: A project of Archive.org that takes a copy of a whole website (everything under a domain name like www.something.com), checks back every so often to take a fresh copy, and makes all those copies available on its own website. Searching for a site which has not yet been archived is sometimes enough to start Archive taking snapshots of it. If not, you can try contacting the ArchiveTeam.
  • WebCitation: Designed to allow scholars to take a permanent copy of a web page they want to reference in an academic work. Requires users to enter their email address for every site that gets archived, and allows adding information about the page they are archiving, like the title, author, and publisher. Like Archive.is, interactive features or embedded media may or may not be correctly copied.
  • Webrecorder.io: Webrecorder allows you to make a record of web browsing sessions, automatically archiving a copy of any web page you look at, along with all the content embedded in it.

 Tools for Evaluating Academic Papers

  • Directory of Open Access Journals: a directory of peer-reviewed academic journals that are  Open Access, so their articles are publicly available to be read and studied, sometimes under a license allowing copying and sharing with some rights reserved (eg CreativeCommons licenses).
  • PeerReviewWatch: a blog that track peer-reviewed journal articles that have been retracted.
  • RetractionWatch.com: a blog that track peer-reviewed journal articles that have been retracted.


 Tools for Evaluating Other Sources

  • Contract Mapping: A NZ-specific site, which holds information about who gets public funding to provide social services, how much they get, and for what.
  • Delisted.co.nz: lists companies that have been delisted from the official register of companies, and any information they can find about where the assets went.
  • KeyWiki: This is a SourceWatch style wiki, licensed under the GNU FDL, but with a pro-corporate, anti-communist slant. Although intended to expose and embarrass "left-wingers", the profiles in New Zeal blog often provide useful summaries of the contributions and achievements of prominent activists, and their author Trevor Loudon conveniently archives them on KeyWiki.
  • LittleSis: a project launched by the Public Accountability Initiative in 2009, to map the relationships between powerful people influential in US politics, and by extension in NZ politics. "All of this information is public, but scattered. We bring it together in one place. Our data derives from government filings, news articles, and other reputable sources." It runs on free code software released under the GNU GPL. It also integrates Oligrapher, a tool that uses SourceMap style mapping to visualize the relationships found in LittleSis data.
  • PowerBase.info: A UK-based project similar to SourceWatch, "initiated by Spinwatch in collaboration with Lobbywatch, GMWatch Red Star Research and Corporate Watch". The PowerBase wiki was originally covered by the GNU Free Documentation License (GNU FDL), but in early 2013 they switched to a CreativeCommons license. It seems their current intention is to use CC-BY-SA 3.0 (the same license as SourceWatch.org and Wikipedia.org), although the copyright statement at the bottom of each page also has a CC-NC-SA graphic, linked to the page for the CC-BY-NC.
  • SourceWatch: Maintained by the Centre for Media and Democracy (PRWatch) in the US, this wiki gives information about the backgrounds of people who make public statements, helping to expose any bias or conflicts of interest which might be shaping what they say. All information is licensed under CC-BY-SA for free re-use. The Who Said It pages on this site are inspired by SourceWatch, and similarly licensed.
  • Who Said It: CounterClaim's own local equivalent of SourceWatch and PowerBase for Aotearoa (NZ). Also licensed under CC-BY-SA, so that those sites can import pages they consider useful, and vice versa.

 Other Tools

  • FYI.org.nz: This is a NZ-specific site, which guides users through the process of making requests under the Official Information Act, and documents any official information released as a result of requests it handles. 
  • SourceMap: a project which helps both activists and companies track and visualize where in the world a given product comes from, as well as the ingredients and raw materials that go into it.