You can find out anything on the Internet. At least it seems that way. The reality is, if you are doing research online, you’re liable to stumble into information that looks true but actually isn’t. And this can scuttle your research easily. Happily, Web site Lifehacker recently presented several tips on how to conduct better research on the Internet. Follow these guidelines and you’ll soon be finding the truth online.
Watch for your bias
No one is free of bias. We all have our own strong opinions. These views, though, can skew our online research. That’s why, Lifehacker recommends that researchers first understand their own biases before performing online research. For example, if you believe that life starts at conception, you may not be willing to acknowledge studies or opinion pieces taking the opposite side. This can ruin your online research even before you start. Be sure, then, to take what Lifehacker calls your confirmation bias into account before you start scanning the Internet for your research.
Quality of information
Once you’re searching online, be wary of articles that aren’t backed up with references or scientific facts. Lifehacker says that poorly researched articles, which frequently end up online, are the only things that can ruin your online research faster than can confirmation bias. So be sure to only include articles that come from respectable sources, such as government agencies, accredited universities and well-respected researchers, in your online research.
Specialized online research
To find the current and most comprehensive studies on your subject, you’ll need to expand your search beyond the usual suspects of Google, Bing and Yahoo! Instead, turn to specialized scholarly searches that will yield more in depth information. Google Scholar and Scirus are powerful tools for academic research. So is PLOS, run by the Public Library of Science, and the United States Library of Congress.