Don’t believe everything you read when researching online

The Internet is an amazing tool for research. The days are gone when you were forced to run to your local library to find out the average salary for steel workers in the 1990s. You no longer need to flip through encyclopedias to uncover the forgotten inventions of Leonardo da Vinci. Even so the Internet can also be a dangerous destination for researchers. The online world is filled, unfortunately, with documents, research and statistics that are incorrect. Believing this inaccurate data can ruin your research efforts. The Web site Lifehacker, though, recently presented several tips for bettering your online research.

Bias alert

No one is free from bias. Everybody has their own strong opinions. These opinions, though, can alter 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 can ruin your online research even before you start. Make sure, then, to take what Lifehacker calls your confirmation bias into account before you start scanning the Internet for your research.

Bad information

Lifehacker points to inadequately cited articles as a big trap for online researchers. Unfortunately, the Internet is packed with “research” that isn’t very methodical in nature. Search for articles that are highly sourced and that originate from respected journals, magazines or newspapers. You can generally rely on medical journals and government reports, as well, when it comes to online research.

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 specialized searches of journal articles and reference items. Try such engines as Google Scholar, Scirus and PLOS for scientific and scholarly resource that will supply more meat to your research.