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- This article is about using the Internet for research; for the field of research about the Internet, see Internet studies
Internet Studies is an interdisciplinary field studying the social, psychological, pedagogical, political, technical, cultural, artistic, and other dimensions of the internet and associated information and communication technologies. While studies of the internet are now widespread across academic...
is the practice of using the Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...
, especially the World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet...
, for research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...
. The internet is widely used and readily accessible to hundreds of millions of people
People is a plurality of human beings or other beings possessing enough qualities constituting personhood. It has two usages:* as the plural of person or a group of people People is a plurality of human beings or other beings possessing enough qualities constituting personhood. It has two usages:*...
in many parts of the world
World is a common name for the whole of human civilization, specifically human experience, history, or the human condition in general, worldwide, i.e. anywhere on Earth....
. It can provide practically instant information
Information in its most restricted technical sense is a message or collection of messages that consists of an ordered sequence of symbols, or it is the meaning that can be interpreted from such a message or collection of messages. Information can be recorded or transmitted. It can be recorded as...
on most topics, and has a profound impact on the way idea
In the most narrow sense, an idea is just whatever is before the mind when one thinks. Very often, ideas are construed as representational images; i.e. images of some object. In other contexts, ideas are taken to be concepts, although abstract concepts do not necessarily appear as images...
s are formed and knowledge
Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something unknown, which can include information, facts, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject...
is a broad term. Here, it is used to mean "looking something up (on the Web)". It includes any activity where a topic is identified, and an effort is made to actively gather information for the purpose of furthering understanding
Understanding is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as a person, situation, or message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with that object....
. Common applications of Internet research
include personal research on a particular subject (something mentioned on the news, a health problem, etc.), student
A student is a learner, or someone who attends an educational institution. In some nations, the English term is reserved for those who attend university, while a schoolchild under the age of eighteen is called a pupil in English...
s doing research for academic projects and papers, and journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...
s and other writer
A writer is a person who produces literature, such as novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, or other literary art. Skilled writers are able to use language to portray ideas and images....
s researching stories. It should be distinguished from scientific research - research following a defined and rigorous process - carried out on the Internet; from straightforward finding of specific info, like locating a name or phone number; and from research about
Compared to the Internet, print physically limits access to information. A book has to be identified, then actually obtained. On the Net, the Web can be searched, and typically hundreds or thousands of page
A web page or webpage is a document or information resource that is suitable for the World Wide Web and can be accessed through a web browser and displayed on a monitor or mobile device. This information is usually in HTML or XHTML format, and may provide navigation to other web pages via hypertext...
s can be found with some relation to the topic, within seconds. In addition, email
Electronic mail, commonly known as email or e-mail, is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients. Modern email operates across the Internet or other computer networks. Some early email systems required that the author and the recipient both be online at the...
(including mailing lists), online discussion forums (aka message boards, BBS
A Bulletin Board System, or BBS, is a computer system running software that allows users to connect and log in to the system using a terminal program. Once logged in, a user can perform functions such as uploading and downloading software and data, reading news and bulletins, and exchanging...
's), and other personal communication facilities (instant messaging
Instant Messaging is a form of real-time direct text-based chatting communication in push mode between two or more people using personal computers or other devices, along with shared clients. The user's text is conveyed over a network, such as the Internet...
Internet Relay Chat is a protocol for real-time Internet text messaging or synchronous conferencing. It is mainly designed for group communication in discussion forums, called channels, but also allows one-to-one communication via private message as well as chat and data transfer, including file...
A usenet newsgroup is a repository usually within the Usenet system, for messages posted from many users in different locations. The term may be confusing to some, because it is usually a discussion group. Newsgroups are technically distinct from, but functionally similar to, discussion forums on...
s, etc.) can provide direct access to expert
s and other individuals with relevant interests and knowledge. However, difficulties persist in verifying a writer's credentials, and therefore the accuracy or pertinence of the information obtained—see also the article Reliability of Wikipedia
The reliability of Wikipedia , compared to other encyclopedias and more specialized sources, is assessed in many ways, including statistically, through comparative review, analysis of the historical patterns, and strengths and weaknesses inherent in the editing process unique to Wikipedia.Several...
Further difficulties in internet research center around search tool bias and whether the searcher has sufficient skill to draw meaningful results from the abundance of material typically available. The first resources retrieved may not be the most suitable resources to answer a particular question. For example, popularity is often a factor used in structuring internet search results but the most popular information is not always the most correct or representative of the breadth of knowledge and opinion on a topic.
Part of the skill set for using internet research with finesse involves adding the Boolean search terms Not (-) and OR (|) to search engine queries. “Advanced internet searching” is a term that organizations like Monash University quoted below use to describe the learning of Boolean terms and the choosing of appropriate search tool.
Quality on the internet is more than a ‘difficulty’ with specific search techniques having evolved to assist us to reveal the quality of information found online. The use of context searching (using the inurl: field search) and the retrieval of endorsements (using primarily the link field search but with other options) reveals much of the information we need to make a better quality assessment. A familiarity with context and endorsement searching is thus an internet research skill that lies beyond “advanced internet searching”.
Once we recognize search tool bias and the superficial anonymity of internet information, we open the door to further search skills that personalize and sharpen the focus of our searching. Deep Url interpretation and a recognition of format can counter some of the initial anonymity. Context searching can also assist here. There is also a skill in evolving a search question as we repeatedly make requests of search engines and as we grow more familiar with a topic and how it is organized.
Since internet information – particularly of a certain quality or standard – can be organized in other ways besides word choice and prominence (as attended by global search engines), some information may require further search skills to retrieve. A familiarity with midpoints like directories, ‘invisible’ databases and an attentiveness to further types of organization may reveal the key to finding missing information. A thesaurus, for example, may prove critical to connecting information organized under the business term “staff loyalty” to information addressing the preferred nursing term “personnel loyalty” (MeSH entry for Medline by the [US] National Library of Medicine). This may only come to light by noticing the absence of nursing-related research when collecting “staff loyalty” related material. Experience noticing the volume of information (particularly by repeatedly searching in a precise manner) and looking for gaps in collections of information can help overcome this.
As the volume of internet information continues to rise, emerging search skills like link companion searches and triangulation as well knowledge of as well-established tools like regional search engines will be needed to retrieve information unlikely to reach the attention of those who depend on search engine ranking to reveal relevant information. This situation calls into question what constitutes an internet search - particularly how it is different from a search engine offering an internet recommendation - and the meaning and difficulties in searching the internet comprehensively.
The most popular search tools for finding information on the internet include Web search engines, metasearch engines, Web directories, and specialty search services. A Web search engine uses software known as a Web crawler to follow the hyperlinks connecting the pages on the World Wide Web. The information on these Web pages is indexed and stored by the search engine. To access this information, a user enters keywords in a search form and the search engine queries its indices to find Web pages that contain the keywords and displays them in search engine results page (SERP). The SERP list typically includes hyperlinks and brief descriptions of the content found. Search results are ranked using complex algorithms, which take into consideration the location and frequency of keywords on a Web page, along with the quality and number of external hyperlinks pointing at the Web page.
A Metasearch engine enables users to enter a search query once and have it run against multiple search engines simultaneously, creating a list of aggregated search results. Since no single search engine covers the entire web, a metasearch engine can produce a more comprehensive search of the web. Most metasearch engines automatically eliminate duplicate search results. However, metasearch engines have a significant limitation because the most popular search engines, such as Google, are not included because of legal restrictions.
A Web directory organizes subjects in a hierarchical fashion that lets users investigate the breadth of a specific topic and drill down to find relevant links and content. Web directories can be assembled automatically by algorithms or handcrafted. Human-edited Web directories have the distinct advantage of higher quality and reliability, while those produced by algorithms can offer more comprehensive coverage. The scope of Web directories are generally broad, such as DMOZ, Yahoo! and The WWW Virtual Library, covering a wide range of subjects, while others focus on specific topics.
Specialty search tools enable users to find information that conventional search engines and metasearch engines cannot access because the content is stored in databases. In fact, the vast majority of information on the web is stored in databases that require users to go to a specific site and access it through a search form. Often, the content is generated dynamically. As a consequence, Web crawlers are unable to index this information. In a sense, this content is "hidden" from search engines, leading to the term invisible or deep Web. Specialty search tools have evolved to provide users with the means to quickly and easily find deep Web content. These specialty tools rely on advanced bot and intelligent agent technologies to search the deep Web and automatically generate specialty Web directories, such as the Virtual Private Library.
Internet Research Software
Internet Research Software enables you to capture information you find while performing internet research. This information can then be organized in various ways included tagging and hierarchical trees. The goal is to collect information relevant to a specific research project in the one place, so that it can be found and accessed again quickly.
These tools typically go beyond just capture and enable content to be edited, notes to be added and information to be cross referenced. Full text search aids in quickly locating information and filters enable you to drill down to see only information relevant to a specific query.
By capturing and keeping information you don't have to worry about web pages and whole sites disappearing or being inaccessible. Internet Research Software greatly enhances internet research by enabling you to build knowledge and reuse it. Available software includes Surfulater, Evernote, WebResearch Professional and Scrapbook.
- FUTON bias
FUTON bias refers to the bias in academic research, when researchers "concentrate on research published in journals that are available as full text on the internet, and ignore relevant studies that are not available in full text, thus introducing an element of bias into their search result"...
- Internet as a source of prior art
In the context of patent law, using the Internet as a source of prior art when assessing whether an invention is novel and inventive, is problematic since it is often difficult to ascertain precisely when information on websites became available to the public...
- Source evaluation
Source evaluation is the skill of analysing information sources in order to assess their credibility. The ability toassess different sources of information is highly relevant to the task of operating within a complex information society....
- Reliable sources
- Seventh Framework Programme