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Don’t believe everything you read when researching online

Business Technology | March 15, 2013

The Internet is an incredible tool for research. Gone are the days when you were forced to run to your local library to uncover 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 treacherous destination for researchers. The online world is filled, unfortunately, with documents, research and statistics that are erroneous. Believing this erroneous information can ruin your research efforts. The Web site Lifehacker, though, recently offered several tips for improving your online research.

Bias alert

Before starting your online research, Lifehacker recommends that you face your own biases. All of us have biases, and these can ruin the neutrality of our online research. Say you feel that evolution is the truth and intelligent design is fantasy. If you’re not cautious when researching, you’ll gravitate toward studies and research that supports your existing beliefs. That will skew your final research. As Lifehacker says, it is essential to give equal consideration to studies that don’t support your already held beliefs.

Look for bad information

The biggest trap for online researchers, though, is bad data. The Internet is clogged with a lot of improperly cited articles and half-baked research, says Lifehacker. Depending upon these articles for your research can provide you with extremely inaccurate information. It’s best to rely on articles from respected sources, whether that be medical journals, government studies or college reports.

Scholarly searches

Google, Bing and Yahoo! are fine search engines for the beginning stages of your research. Nevertheless, if you want to get in-depth, you’ll need to use more specialized search engines. Fortunately, there are plenty to pick from. Try such engines as PLOS, Scirus, Google Scholar or The U.S. Library of Congress. You may be amazed at the information that’s available.


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