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Internet research made easy

The Internet is an stunning tool for research.

The Internet is an stunning tool for research. The days are gone when you were forced to run to your local library to find out 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 place for researchers. The online world is filled, unfortunately, with documents, research and statistics that are erroneous. Believing this incorrect information can ruin your research efforts. The Web site Lifehacker, though, recently offered several tips for bettering your online research.

Bias alert

Lifehacker’s first tip? Be cautious about your own bias. We are all guilty of something termed confirmation bias. We would like to find information with which we already agree. For instance, if you’re a lifelong liberal, you’ll be more likely to believe studies indicating that poverty is the true reason behind low school test scores. It’s important when researching online to identify your personal biases and to make certain that you’re not selectively sourcing studies that confirm it. It’s important to give weight; too, to research that contradicts your beliefs.

Look for bad information

Once you’re searching online, steer clear of articles that aren’t backed up with references or scientific facts. Lifehacker says that poorly researched articles, which regularly end up online, are the only things that can screw up your online research faster than can confirmation bias. So be sure to only incorporate articles that come from respectable sources, like government agencies, accredited universities and well-respected researchers, in your online research.

Scholarly searches

Google, Bing and Yahoo! are fine search engines for the starting stages of your research. However, if you want to get in-depth, you’ll need to use more specialized search engines. Luckily, 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 out there.

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