When you are running out of time to write your essay or prepare your masters dissertation and you have been struggling to find the books you need for research.  At times like this, the internet can seem like a sensible place to search. However, much of the time when you scan hurriedly through the internet for valuable and focused study material, it is hard to find anything relevant. How do you overcome this problem?

  1. Throughout your studies, whenever you find a relevant website, add it to your Favourites or Bookmark it.  It is impossible to remember every useful website you see, so get into the habit of saving the good ones.
  2. Ask your tutor or the college library about the most important websites for your subject. Familiarize yourself with academic resources like JSTOR (an online archive of scholarly journal articles) and Google Scholar.
  3. Although a search engine can provide you with a lot of information, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s providing you with the right information.  You still have to exercise critical skills.  Learn to assess websites.
  4. Even if the material you find is relevant, that doesn’t mean that you can just collect all the relevant facts and dump them on the page.  You still need to construct your essay carefully and work out your arguments.
  5. Acknowledge your sources. Copy and paste capabilities make it easy to plagiarize.  It is advisable to print material out and then retype the quotes you need for your assignment rather than using the cut and paste tools.  Plagiarism is theft and you have to avoid it.  Remember: you can’t just take the information you find on the internet.  Most of it is covered by the same copyright laws that apply to material in books.  Make sure you know how to reference your essays efficiently.

The internet may be a speedy resource for essay writing, but you still need skill to use it. Learn where to look for accurate and academic information. Critique each website – even with recommended academic sources – and maintain your objectivity.  Have you found any great tips for website critique?  Please let us know by posting a comment below.