Don’t let the Internet trick you into flawed research

<p>You can learn about anything on the Internet. At least it seems that way. The fact is, if you are doing research online, you're likely to stumble into information that looks true but actually isn't. And that can scuttle your research easily. Thankfully, Web site Lifehacker recently provided several tips on how to conduct more effective research on the Internet. Follow these tips and you'll soon be finding the truth online.</p> <p><strong>Watch for your bias</strong></p> <p>Lifehacker's first tip? Be cautious about your own bias. All of us are guilty of something termed confirmation bias. We want to find information with which we already agree. For example, if you're a lifelong liberal, you'll be more likely to believe studies demonstrating that poverty is the real reason behind low school test scores. It is crucial when researching online to identify your own biases and to make sure that you're not selectively sourcing studies that confirm it. It's important to give weight; too, to research that contradicts your beliefs.</p> <p><strong>Look for bad information</strong></p> <p>Lifehacker points to poorly cited articles as a big trap for online researchers. Unfortunately, the Internet is packed with "research" that isn't very methodical in nature. Look for articles that are highly sourced and that originate from respected journals, magazines or newspapers. You can generally count on medical journals and government reports, as well, when it comes to online research.</p> <p><strong>Specialized online research</strong></p> <p>To find the newest and most comprehensive studies on your subject, you'll need to expand your search beyond the usual suspects of Google, Bing and Yahoo! Instead, use specialized scholarly searches that can yield more detailed information. Google Scholar and Scirus are powerful tools for academic research. So is PLOS, run by the Public Library of Science, and the United States Library of Congress.</p>
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