Using The Internet For Academic Research

November 30, 2012   

The main problem with using the internet for academic research is that the huge majority of the material posted on the internet is complete garbage. There are all sorts of ludicrous sites run by cranks and lunatics, as well as those set up by well-meaning but ill-informed enthusiasts on various subjects and hobbies. You will also be able to find well written but badly researched and misleading articles generously posted on the web for you to consult. Almost everywhere you look, it seems, you are confronted with wall-to-wall rubbish.

Where to start?

You should not despair, however, of finding useful and reliable information on the internet. There are increasing numbers of really excellent educational and academic sites available, from historical time-lines and encyclopaedias to online versions of literary texts.
Once you have found the right sites, you will discover that the Internet is a wonderfully quick and easy source of information. It is a particularly good place to look for general overviews and introductions to topics, as well as for basic facts, dates, and so on.
For more sophisticated discussions and interpretations,however, it is still best to rely on academic books and articles, which are guaranteed to have been properly ‘peer reviewed’ prior to publication (that is to say, they will have been read and appraised by other academic experts in the field).

As ever, the key is to be selective. An essay or academic presentation that makes good use of authoritative websites as sources of information, can be outstandingly good. While an essay or academic presentation that makes use of the first vaguely relevant site that came up on a quick search, regardless of its credentials, can be at best piddling and at worst middling.

Ask for guidance first?

Much the quickest way to find the most relevant and reliable academic websites for your subject is to ask the lecturers and librarians in your department or university. They will be able to tell you the best places to start and to introduce you to the electronic and online resources that your department and university subscribe to. You will be able to save huge amounts of time by having access to online biographical,bibliographical and other resources.

Academic uses of the internet

There are a number of ways the internet can be used for academic research and i will briefly describe the importance of each of them.

Obtaining particular dates of key academic individuals, events and publications

It’s very important for students to understand chronological occurrence of events they are writing or learning about, it will not only help them get the big picture but also provide them a platform in which they can review and easily explain in an essay.

Getting basic background information about a topic

Time is money is a common saying in our modern life. But this saying gives the wrong impression as it merely relates time to a business and materiastic lif. Time is much more than that, Time constitutes the moments and seconds of our life that we lose and can not get back. It’s for these reason that most people in today’s world are rushing after or busy with things that don’t matter in the long run. Students and learners are prime example. Why spend countless hours reading a textbook on Alternative Medicine when a few minutes of your time consulting popular sites like Wikipedia will yield enough academic competence to get you going and result you doing far more important things better.

Discovering biographical information about an individual

All educational systems and subjects are people-driven and every once in a while, it’s often crucial that you know more about prominent academic individuals like Albert Einstein than the subjects he helped shape e.g general relativity, so that you better understand and visualize such fields of his study.

Bibliography: identifying the main academic books and articles on your topic.

A lecturer may provide you with reading lists for any assessed project they have set you. However, the items on this list might not be available, so one of the ways you might use your initiative and go beyond the reading list is to use the internet to search for other texts to read. One way is to look for online reading lists provided by other lecturers at your own university or elsewhere. And secondly, you could use an online library catalogue such as Google Scholar to look for books on your subject and use it as a rough and ready guide to what are the most widely used standard
secondary texts on a given subject.

Getting access to academic journals

The availability and acceptability of academic journals and texts are increasing exponentially thanks to the internet. There are online journals and archives such as JSTOR which is the premier source used by millions for learning, teaching and research. These list is equally good.

For Self-study

I have already listed the resources in previous blog entry at here.


Do we start reading at one end of the library and try to read through to the other end. Of course not. So you already know one effective approach. Be selective!. Also Don’t forget to ask for help and recommendations from friends and teachers, and finally if you have got any tips, feedback or suggestions, Please leave us a comment or Contact us about any other ** academic issues.**

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