5 Practical Tips to Online Research

Internet usage by students has grown exponentially. Research shows that 98% of students use the web for schoolwork which illuminates the role technology and the internet plays in education. Outside classes, learners use the internet to research online for information related to homework or assignments.

Often those that know how to examine scholarly content produce quality work. For example, with good research skills, a student finds a published post, evaluates and analyzes it to ensure it’s relevant to the assignment question or topic under discussion. 

Thus, internet usage plays a crucial role in academic performance. However, the amount of information accessible online is overwhelming, leading to students having challenges judging the quality. To help you out, here’s how to research effectively using the internet. 

Check All Sources

When writing academic papers, students often go online to conduct extensive research. The mistake that students make is to believe every word written online. Most don’t take time to evaluate the sources fully.

This is because students are confident internet users. The fact that they have been accessing content online for many years further reduces the chances of confirming whether the author is a subject expert. 

Before writing a paper, evaluate the online source. Check whether the website and the information are up to date. Is the material in-depth and written by a trusted expert? 

If the online source fails to meet these benchmarks and those accepted in academia, you’re better off taking more time to conduct further research. Otherwise, if you use untrustworthy sources, you risk getting a poor score in the school project or being accused of accidental plagiarism. 

Have a Plan

A student’s first thing when conducting online research is to plan how long they expect to do it and how many sources to include in the paper. You should also know which sites you’re going to use to research and which ones to evade. To avoid using a lot of time and to get quality results, refine the research question. Be specific and clear.

Have a Checklist

The volume of digital data grows by the day. But even with a ton of details on their fingertips, students have difficulties translating it to learning. Besides, not all online resources are of the same quality. 

For school assignments, it’s recommended to avoid blogs and commercial websites. Instead, focus on academic databases, government publications, peer-reviewed journals, or articles from a website written by an expert in that field. The scholarly source should not have been published more than five years ago. 

If your teacher allows you to use eBooks, then ensure it’s published by a university press or go a step further and read reviews provided by other readers to determine if the information is worth paraphrasing. 

So before you begin the writing process, crosscheck the information you have found online and examine it for relevance, accuracy, and reliability. To gauge reliability, consider the author, their target audience, and the agenda. For accuracy, consider the quality.

If you have difficulties identifying credible sources, read high-quality academic papers written by a professional from a well-known essay writing service.

Gain a Broader Perspective 

To pursue information and confirm its accuracy, you must have background information on the subject matter. You must go beyond the surface and cover information not just from the first search results. This is because search engines manipulate results to favor their products. As a result, using content only from the first page can make you miss out on relevant content. Besides, there is no substitute for reading and thinking critically. 

Students who want accurate and reliable information should only conduct online research after reading textbooks or class material. That way, you can be sure the information you will use to write your paper is school-approved. So make use of your professors and librarians as they can give you quality details and resources that will be challenging to find from an internet search. 

Set a Time Limit

The endless amount of online information can mean searching through various web pages for hours. In some cases, you won’t even find relevant and quality content. That is why when it comes to conducting online research, you must set a time limit even if the paper is not due that week.

For example, when writing an academic essay, use only half an hour to read various online textbooks. Then, when that time has elapsed, and still you haven’t found enough information, change tactics like using another search engine or posting your question on an online forum. 

Matt acts as a student, coffee ninja and web advocate. He's also quite charming when he wants to be! Matt loves traveling but can't survive without his bacon fix each morning (or evening).

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