Tips for Researching Online

Tips for Researching Online

Researching things online looks really easy. If you talk about it, someone over forty-five is bound to start talking about these kids today and their computers and how hard it used to be when people did all of their research at the library. I have to say, if I had to do all of my PhD research at the library instead of in the comfort of my own room and pajamas, I really would have a hard time finding the will to go on. You’ll get no argument from me that Internet research is comparatively easy.

Still, anything requires skill, even online research. You have to make sure that you use the right search terms or online search engines are going to bring you up a lot of links that have nothing to do with anything. Whether you’re looking for relevant scholarly articles or blog posts that will point the way, you need to remember to figure out the best and most key search terms in advance. This is what is going to give you the information you want.

If you’re working in academia or doing almost any academic writing, you really need to find scholarly articles. Your school should give you access to a lot of them. Google Scholar can still really help in a pinch, though. It’s gotten me through some really tough assignments in the past.

With researching things online, it is also important to look beyond your first hits, especially these days. I know, it’s so easy to just choose the first ten hits. These days, all that means is that the people in those slots have really good SEO. In fact, some of the worst sources for information online can be in the first ten results that you get just because of the great SEO and the popularity of the websites, and some of them have been ranked using information taught in the PBN Academy. You should never believe that just because these websites appeared first that they’re the best and most accurate websites. We all know that popularity does not necessarily equal accuracy. This is the Internet: popularity is no mark of quality in anything.

I love Wikipedia as much as the next person. I would never use it in research, though. You might be able to get something out of the sources used in a Wikipedia article, making Wikipedia a sort of search engine at that point. However, that’s about as good as it gets with Wikipedia and research. Wikipedia is for when you want to win an argument at the table and you have your phone with you. It isn’t for research.

Other than that, the main thing on your side for Internet research is just persistence. You need to keep on working and hunting for all of your great new resources. Internet research favors the slow and steady winners of a race. Most research does, which is why a lot of people take ten years to complete their dissertations. I’m on the right track!

Michael Davidson

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