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What are the advantages of computers in research?

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One of the best tools that today's computers bring to research is the ease of locating the information you need. Not so many years ago, people interested in researching a topic would have to (typically) go to their local libraries and then try to find the physical copies of the research materials they needed. If the copy of the needed magazine was missing or if the magazine was a bit obscure and therefore not carried by the library, it may have been impossible to get the needed research materials. At a minimum, a person typically had to make other trips to neighboring libraries or universities in an effort to locate the desired materials. So the materials one ended up with were not necessarily the best articles out there but simply the ones which a person had the ability to physically locate. With the capacity of computers now, researchers can access vast quantities of published materials without ever leaving their homes and can peruse articles to find those which are best suited to the particular project.

Computers have also made it much easier to connect people around the world, which can be invaluable in research. If a researcher reads an article and has a follow-up question, he or she can email that original author and potentially receive an almost immediate response to his or her questions. Researchers can locate other people with similar research projects and reach out in email, online forums, and instant messaging capabilities.

Of course, publishing one's research has been made significantly easier through computers as well, allowing for a simple interface that can be easily modified—not at all like the painstaking method of typing in days of old. Computers also make professional-looking publications, from brochures to slide shows: a fairly simple process with great room for customization.

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