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The internet seems like an endless stream of information that keeps on growing with time. But most of this information – from an academic perspective – is just a jumble of hollow claims written by authors with a little-known background. Online research skills allow students to filter relevant information to create credible reports on specific topics. Here are some methods to improve research skills for enhancing their effectiveness. So, let’s begin with these nine life-saving hacks, shall we?
Tips To Improve Online Research Skills
1. Become a skeptic
Not everything that comes from the internet is reliable or even attention-worthy. A student should learn to show skepticism toward information found online since many websites are composed of content published by unreliable authors for money-making purposes. That’s why skepticism helps you filter this information and discover dependable platforms. Every student needs to cultivate the research skill of disbelieving in digitally acquired information, especially if it comes from social media.
2. Verify the information
Finding facts/statistics on a reputable platform doesn’t mean they’re reliable beyond doubt. Even well-established sources can make a mistake. That’s why it helps to verify the information from different sources. Different platforms can repeat the same false data. If several sources verify and vouch for the fact’s accuracy, you should assume it’s true. Thus, students must possess to research skills to find at least two more sources before accepting their statistics.
3. Use academic databases
You can gather reliable information online by consulting academic databases. Trustworthy platforms such as JSTOR and EBSCO give you access to a digital library of peer-reviewed journals, magazines, electronic books, and transcripts from academic meetings. These trusted sources serve as starting points for every researcher’s – amateur or professional – analytical journey. So, obtaining a subscription to these websites is imperative for students willing to hone their research skills.
4. Recognize quality sources
The internet is a mishmash of credible and defective sources. A student should be skilled enough to identify trustworthy ones. For example, if you’re searching for MSEE online, it’s essential to find platforms offering reliable information regarding this course. Since only a well-reputed site can guide you properly on how to establish a career in electrical engineering. Sometimes, it requires students a little experience to develop the ability to recognize trustworthy websites.
5. Check message boards
Message boards such as Reddit and Quora are excellent places to find resourceful information. It might seem meaningless to skim through random conversations between strangers. But these discussions sometimes bring your closer to a goldmine of precious documents and statistical records unavailable elsewhere. For instance, if you’re researching about the Vietnam War, you can find old photographs shared by veterans or their family members on online chatrooms.
6. What about Wikipedia?
Wikipedia – since its creation 20 years ago – has served as an excellent digital encyclopedia. But it isn’t reliable. A 2008 paper found that just 80% of the information found on Wikipedia was accurate. As this information “can be manipulated “since anyone can edit Wikipedia, instructors don’t trust it as a reliable source. That’s why students consult the bibliography and check the source for every fact/statistic at the bottom of each page. These footnotes can become citations,
7. Organize your information
Data-collection research skills are futile if not accompanied by data-organization expertise. Since academic research often comprises a massive amount of information distributed into various formats such as PDF, video, webpages, etc. Skilled students understand that arranging and organizing this data will prevent them from losing any vital piece of information. That’s why they place bookmarks in the browser, use index cards, and create an annotated bibliography to trace all facts/statistics.
8. Google Scholar
If you’re looking for scholarly publications, Google Scholar is the research skill friend you seek. Though not every article there is publicly accessible, you can still find a suitable periodical. Then you may look for this article at your school library. The benefits of Google Scholar include access to open-access journals, legal documents, and scientific-technological articles. You can only discover well-reputed manuscripts on Google Books to ensure if a publication is worth your attention or not.
9. Some tips about Google
Google has the most significant share of digital traffic in the world right now. Most students rely on this search engine for their academic research projects. So, it seems to discuss some necessary hacks to find your required info online via Google effectively.
- You can use the “Advanced Search” option by clicking the “Settings” button. This option allows you to filter your queries and change factors, e.g., region, language, etc.
- If you want Google to match for either of two options, you should insert OR in your query. For instance, type “English OR British” to look for any of these two keywords.
- If you’re looking for quotes on Google, it’s wiser to surround that word/phrase with quotation marks. Therefore, you can search for websites related to Shakespeare’s “to be or not to be” with this technique.
- Suppose that you’re searching for Harry Potter novels but don’t want results related to movies of the same franchise. In that case, you can exclude the undesired options by inserting minus or hyphen. The search term will be: “Harry Potter –film -movie.”
- If you want to restrict your queries to a single domain, write “site” before the keyword. Here’s an example: “site:www.imdb.com Game of Thrones.” It allows you to observe whether a particular website had covered the topic under consideration.
Producing high-quality research papers requires digital exploration, extensive investigation, and fact-finding capabilities. Students must begin polishing these research skills beforehand. Searching for information online appears convenient since there’s a plethora of data available on the internet.
But many of these websites are composed of unreliable pieces of information. Students must cultivate the skills needed to identify reliable sources, verify the data they’ve obtained, and then organize their facts meticulously.
Online Google research comes quite handy when you’re writing an academic paper. But neglecting the above-discussed research skills may lead your research to be of an inadequate and improper standard.