The Internet is an incredible tool for research. The days are gone when you had to run to your local library to determine the average salary for steel workers in the 1990s. You no longer need to flip through encyclopedias to discover the forgotten inventions of Leonardo da Vinci. But the Internet can also be a dangerous place for researchers. The online world is filled, unfortunately, with documents, research and statistics that are wrong. Believing this erroneous data can ruin your research efforts. The Web site Lifehacker, though, recently offered several tips for improving your online research.
Is that a bias?
No one is free from bias. We all have our own strong beliefs. These opinions, though, can skew our online research. For this reason, Lifehacker recommends that researchers first understand their own biases before performing online research. For instance, if you believe that life starts at conception, you might not be inclined to acknowledge studies or opinion pieces taking the opposite side. This tends to ruin your online research even before you start. Make sure, then, to take what Lifehacker calls your confirmation bias into account before you commence scanning the Internet for your research.
Look for bad information
The biggest trap for online researchers, though, is bad data. The Internet is stuffed with lots of improperly cited articles and half-baked research, says Lifehacker. Depending on this content for your research can provide you with horribly inaccurate information. It’s best to rely on articles from highly regarded sources, whether that be medical journals, government studies or college reports.
Specialized online research
When hunting for online information, it’s OK to start with popular search engines like Bing or Google. However, when you want detailed information, it’s time to rely on more customized searches of journal articles and reference items. Try such engines as Google Scholar, Scirus and PLOS for scientific and scholarly resource that can present more meat to your research.