Why research on the Internet?
The Internet is often referred to as the 'information society'. In saying this, it is meant that the Internet is full of vast amounts of information on a current scale. By accessing the Internet, you are not only able to access web pages across Ireland but also on a global scale. This allows the researcher to have access to a volume of information that would, ten years ago, have been unheard of.
Researching online is a fast and effective tool. But as with all varieties of information, there are several things that must be considered.
Who created this web page?
With the Internet you must remember that in order for you to be able to read the information someone had to place that information on line. Take time to note the author of the web page, if possible. Remember that the source may be biased.
Also, take a look at the URL. Does it end in edu; gov; org or; ie? Internet addresses ending in gov are government authored, org is an organisation that will most likely have a point of view, edu are usually education authorities, and ie/com tend be commercially based.
One way to validate a source is to check if it has any links from the web page, and where these links lead. Is it a reputable site? Another possible answer is to try and cross reference the information that you have found on the web site with other web sites. Or maybe do a search on the author to see if they have any other web pages.
Is it up to date?
Check the date that the web page was created or last updated. Sometimes the creator will state the date at the very beginning or at the end of the page. This is especially important if it is quoting statistics or current news stories. Generally, anything that is more than five years old would only be useful as a general overview, rather than a given fact.
Remember all information is put on the World Wide Web for a purpose.
Searching the Web
There are two main ways of viewing information on the Web. The first is to browse the Web. This would be in the case where you are unsure of what you are looking for and therefore are quite happy to browse from page to page. The second is a direct search, when you know what it is you are looking for. The web is broken down into two search formats: directories and search engines.