Responsible use of the Internet for research

Internet! (Photo credit: LarsZi) 

In a time when almost everything is a click away, an undeniable fact that we face is that more and more students develop dependence on the Internet for their research and school projects.

            “I had a girlfriend named Google,” jokingly said Kaliver, 19, a college student.

            He knew about the popular search engine in 2007 during his first year in high school. At the time, he was having trouble making his 500 word essay about global warming.

            “I was amazed by Google’s beauty of making information readily available. It gives me more time to play basketball,” he said.

            With little effort, Kaliver passed his essay containing information “copied” from different authors online who shared their thoughts on the topic. The essay obtained a high score.

            However, over time, Kaliver was becoming increasingly dependent on the Internet for his school requirements that he realized he was learning little from his studies, which was reflected in his first quarter grades in school.

            For the second quarter, Kaliver’s class was tasked to submit a book report on the Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

            Rather than getting information online for the report, he opted to buy a print copy and read the book, which he finished in four days.

            “I was proud of myself for not being dependent on the Internet,” he said. The reading experience also nurtured a love for books.

            Alan Trani, a college instructor, gives his students the freedom to use whatever medium they like when researching provided that they cite reliable sources so he can make sure that their work is not copied.

            For him, the Internet is generally good.

“The student’s should just learn to develop discipline when using it,” he said.

            Rosa Nisnisan, an elementary school teacher, is also not against the Internet. She just wants to train her students at an early age to research using books so that her students would develop critical thinking skills.

            The Internet can be dangerous because anyone can just post false information on it, and it is hard to trace whether or not this information is true,” she added.

            Here are some guidelines on the proper way of using the Internet when researching, based on the paper by W. Brock of the Academic Skills Centre and June Seel of UTM Library:

  • Don’t rely exclusively on the Internet for your sources. Usually, teachers expect you to make use of both Internet and library resources. Don’t forget to cross-check information from the Internet against the information from the library to make sure it is “reliable and authoritative”.
  • Narrow your research topic before logging on. The Internet is a mine of information, so before you start your search, decide what you are looking for and create some very specific questions to direct and limit your search.
  • Know your subject directories and search engines. Search engines like GoogleBingAlta Vista, and Yahoo differ significantly in how they work, how much of the Internet they search, and in terms of search results. Spend some time learning what each search engine will do and how best to use it to help you avoid frustration and wasted time later.
  • Keep a detailed record of sites you visit and the sites you use. Doing research on the Internet means you will be visiting several sites that are either useful or insignificant for your research. Always keep track of the useful sites to help limit your search as well as put the required references in your paper. It is recommendable to write them down or bookmark these sites for you to have a permanent record. Also, double-check all URLs that you put in your paper. 


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