Online research guide for students

by Samantha Smiles   Google

Internet is used by students for research all the time. It is a convenient and fast way to get information without going to the library. Sometimes students take Internet for granted and copy-past unreliable sources or use the first source they see in the search results. Legitimate internet research involves careful selection of information and careful examination. The majority of internet pages contain information that is not worth including into your work. To be successful in your online search, you need to learn the strategies of filtering and validating information.

Selection of online authorities

If you’re searching information for your research, you need the evidence that is proved to be reliable and respected. Don’t use opinion blogs, general articles with no indication of authors, easily edited sources like Wikipedia, where anyone can change content. You need to find online scientific journals, publications and other works by experts, scholars and other people who can give professional opinion on your topic. Governmental sites can be used as well.

If your research does not necessarily need to include academic sources, you can turn to articles and databases where authors are not academics. They usually have experience in their field so their works might be suitable to use. Sources with such information include commercial sites, discussion sites, blogs, forums and writer blogs.

The art of using search engines

Google is not the only one out there. People sometimes use only one search engine and still do not know how to use it to its fullest. If the keywords of your research did not produce any results, change the words order and try different combinations. Turn to other search engines if necessary. The more you research, the more deep results you will get. Beside search engines there are scientific databases that can help you find information about particular subject.


When you found information you think can be included in your paper but don’t want to start writing right away, be sure to use the “Bookmarks' feature of your browser. Every popular browser has this feature which allows remembering certain internet pages in order to make the search easier the next time.

Filtering and validating of information

Examine the information that is given about the author and the credentials. You need to learn how to know the writer who is just trying to sell his book and all he cares about is money. The date of publication is important as well. The information should not be outdated.

Carefully examine the presentation of the article. The red flags here are smileys, grammar mistakes, inappropriate fonts, spelling errors and too much advertising on the page. All these aspects show that the information is unreliable and the source should not be taken seriously. If the article was published, that does not mean that it is proven to be good for your paper.

The style of writing and information itself should be examined for any evidence of inappropriate style, using offending words. If the author keeps blaming someone, this can be an indicator of unprofessional writing.