Research From Home

While just a couple of decades ago doing research meant heading to the library and sifting through endless texts and volumes or doing a lot of legwork, now it is usually just a click away on the internet. But, we all know what you can't always trust your source when dealing with research done online. Whether you're looking for the best homes on offer or doing a history paper for school, you need to know which sources to trust and which to disregard. Here are some tips for finding quality sources online.

Know your source. One of the best and worst things about the internet is that anyone can post something online. While this means that there is an endless flow of information on thousands of topics, it also means that there are many articles and stories posted that are not true or accurate. Never trust something you read online until you know it is coming from a reliable source. If you are reading a digital copy of an article from a real estate career magazine, it is likely credible. But, if you are reading a blog entry by an anonymous poster there a much higher chance that it is not factually accurate. Every website should list who the writers are or sources for the material posted. Try not to trust sites that do not provide this information.

Look for an editor or site mediator. If you're looking up product or service reviews, check to see if the sites keeps track of who is posting and what they say. If you need a contractor to help you make your house plans, you might be able to find reviews of different professionals online. Take both good and bad reviews with a grain of salt. On some sites it is very easy for companies to go in and create several positive reviews that they did not deserve or for someone to spoil a good company's name. Check out sites where posters need to sign-up or identify themselves in some way before being allowed to make a comment.

Be creative when doing web searches. You likely want to find as many sources as you can when you're researching mortgage brokers (check out 1st and 2nd mortgages in Toronto) or the culture of India. If you find the same bit of information printed several times, it's more likely to be true. When you're using online search engines, try searching for the same information in different ways. This will expose you to as many different sources as possible.

Understand the bias. Research online is usually written from the perspective of someone who is selling something or someone who has a strong opinion. Be aware of every article or ads bias before you make your decision of whether or not it's credible. If you're looking at student housing for example, make sure that you go and check out each listing before signing a lease. It's very easy for realtors or homeowners to just show you the best parts of their property.

Copyright (c) 2008 -