The internet has emerged as the best source of information. There is practically nothing that you cannot find by browsing the internet. Think about any topic â€“ science, technology, medicine, engineering, sports, jobs, education, etc. â€“ the internet has it all.
But, the information provided in the Internet differs in its accuracy, reliability, and value. There are lots of choices, but one cannot be sure if the data they are reading is accurate or not. Some sources may even be outdated and unverifiable. Unlike the conventional information sources (books, magazines, official documents, etc.), information posted in the internet does not require to be approved before it is made public.
When writing research papers, the researcher needs to evaluate the sources. He needs to make decisions about what to search, where to search, and once the relevant material is found, has to check whether it is a valid. The researcher faces difficulties in assessing the credibility of information, and it is extremely time consuming. At times, it can be frustrating. There is a vast amount of information at your disposal, but you may not find exactly what you need.
Sources of Information on the Web
Websites: Much of the information on the internet is available through websites. They vary widely in the quality of information and validity of sources that they provide.
Weblogs/Blogs: These are quite recent development in web technology. These online forums facilitate discussion and collaboration. Here, the writers post something and the readers respond to it. Blogs of prestigious journalists and public figures are more credible than other blogs.
Message boards, discussion lists, and chat rooms: These exist for all kinds of disciplines, more particularly, for universities.
Multimedia: The Internet has a huge amount of multimedia resources, which includes online broadcasts, news, images, audio files, and other interactive websites.
Categories of Information on the Web
The Free, Visible Web: It includes all the publicly mounted web pages, which are indexed by search engines. You can use a good search engine or directory to find information from this category.
The Free, Invisible Web: It includes the websites that provide their articles or information free to users. But, this information can be obtained only by going directly to their home page; search engines cannot index it. Ex.: magazines, newspapers, reference works, etc. Legal, medical, and financial databases can also be included in this category.
Paid Databases: It includes commercial databases containing scholarly journals, newspapers, court cases, etc. You need a password/or have to be a subscriber/or be a member, etc. to obtain information from this category.
Types of Search Tools
Search Engines: A search engine consists of an interface to key a query, an index of Web sites that the query is matched with, and a software program (called a spider or bot) that goes out on the Web and gets new sites for the index. Many search engines are now becoming reference sites, which provide much more than just search capability. They also have news, weather, free software, picture indexes, ratings of web sites, etc. Ex.: Google, Fast Search, Northern Light, HotBot, AltaVista, Britannica, Bartleby, etc.
Directories: Directories are an organized collection of links to websites picked out by human editors. These are much smaller than search engines. But, the credibility of the articles and sites it provides is very high. Ex.: Yahoo, Look Smart, Snap, etc.