How to utilize online sources for research

Over the last few years, the Internet has become the ultimate research tool. An array of search engines is there to assist scholars find references. However, the problem with such research is that you will get innumerable answers to all questions. Both positive and negative opinions are present; both supporting and opposing views fill the result pages. So, it is easy to become confused and misled. Follow some basic guidelines suggested here while searching the internet for your project and you will get better results:

• Decide your keywords with which you want to search. Focused search will give more relevant results.
• Shortlist some reliable sites that contain information backed by universities, colleges or renowned research organizations. Since the material published on many of the websites is neither peer reviewed nor checked by some higher authority, its credibility can be doubtful. On the other hand, most online journal papers, as well as information shared by universities are peer reviewed and verified.
• Once you have found the more trustworthy sites, note down the URL. Do not rely on the search history to lead you to those sites again.
• There are different rules for citing online sources. Consult your supervisor about the citation style to be followed for websites. You may need to provide the URL, authors’ name, page number, etc. Also, while citing online sources ensure that you spell the website name correctly. Even a slight mistake can render your citation useless.
• Look for links or email address, through which you can reach the author or the publishing authority. This will help you if any clarification is required.
• Popular search engines like Google and Yahoo differ in their methods for searching sites. Choose one that gives you appropriate results and use it repeatedly to maintain the quality of material you use.

All said and done, don’t just rely on the internet. It is present to support your research, not replace books and journals. Also make ample use of your library for research.

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