When you’re carrying out research online you need to be aware that there are several pitfalls which you could fall into. This may be particularly crucial if you’re using your research to produce a term paper for academic study. If you’ve got information which is wrong or inaccurate in any form, then it will give you invalid results in your term paper and could results in you failing. Even if you’re just trying to research the price of a product, you could have a wasted trip to the store to buy it if you’ve been using out-of-date price information. So here are some of the main pitfalls you need to be aware of when you’re researching online.
First of all, you might simply not be able to find out the information that you want. The simple fact of the matter is information does not exist on every possible topic on the Internet. It never has, and it likely never will, because the search engines simply can’t stay up-to-date with the many millions of sites as they are constantly updated throughout the day. You need to be aware that sometimes online research may not be the best source for these type of inquiries, and you should consider going straight back to an offline source, whether it’s a media item or a book in the library, as an alternative.
Next, you may discover the information you find is quite simply inaccurate. It’s true that anybody can put up a page on the Internet, and they may not have any reason for giving accurate information. They may have just been messing about. And so this information may end up staying on the Internet for years to come.
This is particularly true on sites where the writers do not have to pay to access them. For instance, if they’ve just set up a page on another popular site, such as Facebook, or they’ve set up a blog on a service online that provides these. They may simply have provided inaccurate information either intentionally or just, more likely, accidentally. So you always need to be aware the information may not be accurate. You can generally avoid this by using reputable sources and trying to check out the information in multiple ways to confirm this is consistent across multiple sites and by multiple authors.
One final thing you should do, particularly if you’re planning to complete a term paper, is just be very careful you don’t accidentally steal words that are not yours, because this is known in academic trade as plagiarism. It’s more acceptable to take information to rewrite it and, in your academic studies, provide a link to where you found that information — known as a citation — than it is to simply take a large chunk of text and put it in an essay. After all, that’s simply stealing, and it’s just not acceptable in an academic sense.
But even if you’re an online writer and you’re producing an article for your own site, you still shouldn’t go ahead and steal someone else’s words. It’s completely unethical, even if it’s easy to do by using copy and paste in the modern Internet browser. So just make sure that you’re presenting information in your own words and giving credit back to your source where this is the case.
Generally, you have to be very careful when you’re researching online that you don’t do anything unethical; you don’t accidentally create any problems for yourself that you could otherwise avoid. You should do this by checking there will be information available for your topic before you start, otherwise you should consider alternatives or choosing a different topic entirely.
If you can find the information, you need to make sure it’s completely accurate, because you’re putting your own reputation on the line by using it, and that you don’t accidentally steal information you have no permission to. If the information is proprietary in any way or you’re trying to take it word for word, then this will create big problems for you down the line.
So make sure you pay attention to these pitfalls and avoid them in your own online research, and you will benefit yourself in the long run.