A Guide to Online Research
As the world becomes increasingly reliant on the internet, more researching is being done online as opposed to in libraries. With millions of websites up and running, there is a great deal of information available for internet users who need to do research. However, many people are unsure whether the information that they are reading is reliable or not. If you want to know whether or not you can trust a website's information, here are some things you need to look into.
When you are viewing a website, you should try to find out whether it is an educational website or if it is just promoting products or services. If the main purpose of the website is to promote something, it is probably not a good resource for research information. If you see that there are jokes and humorous pictures on the website, it is likely meant to provide entertainment rather than education. Determining a website's target audience is also important for verifying its authority. Does the website address experts on the topic, new enthusiasts, or the general public? Knowing who the website was intended for can greatly affect how reliable its content is.
You also need to look at the author of the website. Since most of the website owners on the internet are anonymous, you can't know for sure which websites are reliable. However, you can get a rough idea of a website's reliability by looking at its domain name. Domain names that end with ".com" are extremely common. While they do provide good information, most ".com" sites are not suitable for research. However, sites that have domain names ending with ".gov" belong to the government, and therefore, their information is always accurate. Websites with ".edu" endings belong to universities and different types of schools, like psychology schools or criminal justice schools, so the information is typically written by professors or students who have specialized knowledge on the topic. It is also important that you find out when the site was last updated. Most abandoned websites have outdated information. Websites need to be constantly updated to provide current and accurate information.
Since accuracy of information is paramount when researching, you should carefully evaluate a website's content before citing it in your research. Some websites have information that is obviously wrong, especially if you have been researching on the same subject and you find that certain facts from those websites contradict with the information that you have found. There are also websites that use plagiarized content, specifically websites that just copy and paste content from online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia. However, some sites will cite the sources where the information came from, and you can then verify that the information is accurate.
- Scholar.Google.Com: A search page that helps you find reliable information for your research
- Monash University: Comprehensive information on how to do research on the internet
- Bedford St. Martins: A guide on how to cite online resources
- Noesis: Search page that allows you to look for academic philosophy information on the web
- Research and Documentation Online: Information about online research and documentation, with links to examples of authoritative websites
- Online Research Guide: Provides tips on how to work with online information sources
- Library of Congress: Official website of the Library of Congress, which is a good example of an authoritative website
- Lectric Law Library: Another example of a website that is likely to have good quality information
- Trusted Websites: Provides links to websites that have reliable information
- Archives: Government website that contains links to online research tools
- Online Education Database: Provides links to the best research websites that are available on the internet
- Anatomy of a Website: Information on how a website is put together
Online researching can be challenging because you want to ensure that you are getting information from trusted sources. By following the aforementioned tips, you can make your research more accurate and insightful.