First of all, let us take the time to define the two concepts contained in the title. Sources. Research. Research can mean, simply the collection of information regarding a particular subject. However, it most often refers to a deeper category of data collection, one that involves critical thinking and studious inquiry. It is an activity that involves intellectual investigation and discernment. The definition of research basically means that it does not only include processes of looking for and then compiling all the data that comes up about one topic.
It involves analyzing that data and creating value judgments regarding data. If we think about it further, the implications of these definitions are that not all data, not all information about a certain subject should be included in the collection. There are information that are not appropriate or not valued as worthy as being lump-summed with the rest of the information about the subject researched, whether general in scope, say the history of America, for example, or of something more specific, like the proper way to write an essay.
If not all information can be regarded as worthy of being included in the research results, what determines the validity of the information? This is where our other term comes in, sources. Sources, for our purposes, refers to the origin of the information being inspected. In today’s society, the most basic source of information is the internet. Yes, you heard me right, the internet. There are many who think that cyberspace is a fun and exciting place that is full of potential and that can offer help to many people around the world. I would like to beg to differ.
Cyberspace is dangerous. It can turn the most gullible minds to mush. It can catch its prey unawares. Without knowing it, you can become one of the internet’s many victims of fraud and deceit. Because the internet is open to everyone who has access to a computer and a connection, the information we find on it could also very well be coming from just about anyone with a computer thinking to write and create a page, a site, and even a complete interactive community, about something or someone he or she has no real credibility to be talking or rather writing about.
Trying doing research about a controversial topic on the internet, you’ll see just how many people think they know something about a topic they aren’t really qualified to discuss about. (Diaz & O’Hanlon, 2001) There are ways by which you can make sure a source is reliable. First, make sure you know the topic you want to research about. Identify various means of gathering information. This means not just relying on the internet. Yes, if you want to be sure about the information you gather, you need to use books and articles from journals, magazines, and newspapers.
Identifying people who are considered experts about the topic will also help. After doing this, you can better assess the validity of the information you get. Even if it is from the web. If the bit of information you gathered is based on empirical evidence, meaning it was observed, recorded and noted to be constant for a given condition, then most likely it is reliable. Do not trust data based on empty words and opinions. Also, cross-check your information with other sources. (Diaz & O’Hanlon, 2001) See if the expert you identified agrees with the content of the website.
See if the journal is acknowledged by others to be scholarly or if its peer-reviewed. Despite its negative image, the internet can also be a tool for the enhancement of research processes. There are many websites acknowledge to be reliable sources of information. (Wasbum-Moses, 2006). Don’t forget, however, that not everything can be found on the internet. Having the research skills to find good printed sources is also important. One clear example of the internet’s limited scope: try researching Source and Research online.