Possibilities of online research

Duration: 4 minutes

Learn how to tell if an online source is reliable, how to work with university-affiliated databases, and how to make the best use of digital texts.

What’s most important?
  • Double-check your online sources.
  • Use university-affiliated databases for your online research.
  • Search for specific words in digital texts to find relevant passages and take notes.

How do you know whether an online source is trustworthy?

One of the main advantages of online research is that you can research wherever and whenever you like. Most of the time you can access texts immediately.

However, online sources also have their pitfalls. The internet is full of misinformation and false facts, and you should always double-check internet sources. Before you include an online source in your paper, you should therefore ask yourself the following questions:

Where did the text appear?

Online texts from a scientific journal or a renowned publisher can usually be used without any problems. The texts published here are mostly based on peer review, i.e. reviewed by independent experts. Pay attention to whether the website or the publisher seems reputable and what other texts by the same editor(s) are published.

Who wrote the text?

In most scientific texts, you will find one or more author names at the beginning or end of the text. You can probably trust an author, for example, if they are employed by a university or a research institution. If in doubt, you can also check whether they have already published other texts from the subject area in trustworthy scientific journals or books.

Where did the author get their information?

Sources are important to verify facts stated in the text and can be present in footnotes or in the text. All quotations or data that weren’t gathered by the author must be marked. A list of sources or bibliography is a must! Even if there are no direct quotations in the text, it must be recognizable where the facts come from.

Does the author remain objective?

If a text is very opinionated and heavily supports a line of thinking, it is usually a sign of an uncitable source. Few citations and a sparse list of sources should also set alarm bells ringing. A good scientific text should always illuminate several perspectives and be based on different, reputable sources. Personal opinions, emotions and experiences, on the other hand, should be kept to a minimum.

Is the text up to date?

Even if a text was published by a reputable person in a reputable place, the information it contains may be outdated and the scientific findings may have been refuted by now. Science evolves quickly and new discoveries are made all the time, so many scientific texts undergo revisions over time. Therefore, pay attention to when the text is from and whether it has been revised since then.

How do you work with university-affiliated and other databases?

Most students don’t have a large budget. Buying all the academic books and journals for your paper is therefore out of the question. Fortunately, this is usually not necessary. Many e-books and journals are accessible free of charge through your university. Another advantage is that university libraries usually have only scientifically high-quality texts that predominantly meet the above-mentioned requirements.

As a student you get access to the university library, affiliated platforms and other libraries of the city. Don’t miss making use of this. This way you have access to the stocks of different platforms. You can also search for appropriate texts on Google Scholar and might be able to find open access material there.

You can also find many open access texts in our Hausarbeiten online shop. You can easily download them and start researching right away. Just enter your keywords in the search mask and use the price filter to find free texts on your topic.

How do you make the best use of digital texts?

If you have a long text in front of you, you don’t have to read the whole thing to find what you’re looking for. Often, only certain chapters or passages are important for your own work. To find them, you can look through the table of contents. Moreover, digital texts offer a major advantage over printed books: You can browse the document for specific keywords.

To find a word or phrase, you can use the shortcut CTRL+F and type the word in the navigation field. You’ll automatically jump to the place where the word appears next. You can then use the arrow keys to navigate through the search results.

If you downloaded the text as a pdf, you can also mark interesting passages and take notes. You can color important parts and add comments with your own thoughts or a short summary of a passage. This way, you can quickly find important information and your own notes on the topic later.

Online research has many advantages but also has its drawbacks, such as long screen times and a lot of scrolling time. Here’s a helpful overview:

Advantages and disadvantages of online research

AdvantagesDisadvantages
– Research whenever and wherever you want– You rely on electricity and a stable internet connection
– You’re not limited to local libraries– Long screen time
– Download and read texts immediately
– Search your text for important terms
⚠ Don’ts
  • Don’t only rely on printed texts.
  • Don’t use untrustworthy websites for your research.
  • Don’t read the whole e-book first to find relevant chapters or passages.

Test yourself: Do you know how to research online?

How can you tell that a text is trustworthy?

  1. It contains many complicated technical terms
  2. It has been published in a renowned journal or publisher
  3. Every text is trustworthy
    Solution:

   B – Texts published in a renowned journal have mostly been peer reviewed, i.e. examined by independent experts.

How should a reputable scientific author address a topic?

  1. The author should remain objective and consider different perspectives and sources
  2. The author should write as vividly as possible
  3. The author should always be exactly my opinion
    Solution:

   A – The author should remain objective and consider different perspectives and sources.

Where can you find high-quality digital texts for your research?

  1. On the third page of Google results
  2. In university-affiliated databases
  3. In online gossip magazines
    Solution:

   B – In university-affiliated databases.

How can you find open access texts at Hausarbeiten?

  1. By using the price filter
  2. I put them on the wishlist for my birthday
  3. There are no free texts
    Solution:

   A – By using the price filter.

What happens if you use the shortcut CTRL+F?

  1. The text will be deleted immediately
  2. The text will be translated into French
  3. A navigation field appears
    Solution:

   C – To find a word or phrase, you can use the shortcut CTRL+F and type the word in the navigation field. You’ll automatically jump to the place where the word appears next. You can then use the arrow keys to navigate through the search results.

Did you enjoy?
So check out these modules:

  • Module 4
    Duration: 5 minutes

    Possibilities of offline research

    How do you take advantage of library offers and how do you find printed texts in the library? What options do you have to make the best use of printed texts?