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The Internet: An Unreliable and Expensive Resource for College Research

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Yes, the Internet has become the most innovative, convenient and world—access source of information in recent years. At the same time, as many nations and cultures contribute to the online databank’s compilation, it is still risky for serious collegiate research, especially for graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral studies.

Here is why: in light of the fact that the Internet is democratically operated, everybody and his grandfather posts information that might or might not be legit. On such an open space where anyone can share virtually any thought one wants to share, substantive information becomes obscure. A few encyclopedia-like sites have come under scrutiny due to their policy to allow the general public unlimited access to contribute information regarding any subject whatsoever. Where this practice is ideal for a democratic world in which each person’s voice is deemed important and valued, it is equally a hotbed of inconsistencies, inaccuracies and conflicting prejudices. Experts are sometimes available to instill corrections, and sometimes they aren’t. Since this is the way sites work throughout most of cyberspace, the Internet has become a virtual minefield for those who need to find factual information.

Malicious and/or fraudulent intent on the part of the posters is of little relevance to researchers; despite the particular motivation, questionable data is, indeed, questionable data.

There are, however, some reputable sites that provide promising content. This sites have been set up, organized and are run by the experts or professional institutions, such as universities, organizations, governmental agencies, and the websites for scholarly publications. The stickler here is that archive content like articles and studies requires a membership fee, which can be quite steep, ranging from $30.00 USD to as high as $400.00 USD. Of course, this is aside from the price required to buy a piece of documentation. Perhaps that is a good sign, though; such content is not written or tampered by the general public—but by experts. The information contained within this documentation, considering the year of publication, is, with little or no doubt, liable to be factual. What a price to pay for assured quality sources.

As a result, college students who conduct serious research on the Internet should expect to pay out more than just for the printing, which, in itself, can be quite exponential.

In addition, college students are encouraged to pursue other forms of sources as well, such as video/DVD presentations, authority interviews, and, of course, the age-old book, which never goes out of style, for obvious reasons. Such a recommendation serves to drive students to establish a well-rounded sense of diversity in their research practices and findings, as well as to compensate for the discrepancies that are liable to emerge articles obtained through Internet search engines.

In the end, the Internet is not to be disregarded or avoided completely when conducting collegiate or professional research, but it shouldn’t be a student’s sole means of finding information. The vast database of Internet is a truly fine supplemental or secondary resource, but that’s all it is.


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