For many persons doing research the Internet is a blessing. However, when it comes to serious research finding reliable academic resources online is another story. Even though there are millions of websites offering information on just about every topic, they are not all to be trusted. Anyone can write and post anything on the web, hence the expression used in a New Yorker cartoon, “On the Internet no one knows you are a dog.”
How to Identify and Verify Academic Resources Online
There are a number of ways to verify the authenticity of online academic resources. When it comes to using and citing online resources such as books, journals, paper, newspapers and documents, the author is an important clue. First off, if an item does not have an author listed, whether a person or institution, no matter how great the information seems, avoid using it. Secondly, if the author is an institution or person you have never heard of, do some research before using the material. Look for credentials and check them out. There are enough free resources to help in finding this kind of information.
When information is taken from books, journals or any published work, they are normally cited with full bibliographic details. This makes it easy to determine if the source is credible. In many cases, the website of the journal’s publisher is given so that further research can be done. For current and historic types of academic resources nothing beats the Internet.
Check the ending of the URL from which the information is being taken. In most cases this is a good indicator of its credibility. Most reputable websites with information that can be used as academic resources will come from educational, governmental or non-governmental organizations. These URLs typically end in .edu, .org or .gov respectively.
There are many free and paid academic resources available on the Internet. The trick is to know how to find them. When it comes to using online information for medical purposes or to further your education, you shouldn’t take chances.