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Conducting Good Research in Our Digital Age

“What Today’s College Students Say About Conducting Research in the Digital Age,” written by Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg of Project Information Literacy (PIL), is a national study on how “early adults resolve issues of credibility, authority, relevance, and currency of resources used for course-related research.”

Interestingly enough, Head and Eisenberg came to the conclusion that research is more difficult to conduct in our digital age than it has been in the past. Part of the reason for this is that we are bombarded with an overload of information published online by amateurs, making it more difficult to decipher what information we find over the Internet is actually professional, authoritative, trustworthy, and relevant.
College students often go to Wikipedia to conduct their research, which typically is frowned upon by most faculty and librarians. Nonetheless, the study also discovered that many of these same students simply used Wikipedia as a jumping board for conducting more serious research using scholarly articles and publications they found through their institutional online library database offerings. This same theory applies for using Google and other search engines - they are often used to find context. These should be considered as stepping stones or add-ons to the more important and valid research you will conduct at your institution’s online library. One video that will be really helpful in understanding strategies for conducting research is

So, as an online student, it certainly is important that you hone your online research skills and utilize online library databases. This facet of your online learning experience should be taken advantage of to its fullest extent throughout your academic career.

The website AcademicInfo offers a good collection of tips on how best to search the Internet for information, as well as how to avoid the inherent pitfalls in your path.