3 Things to Remember When Researching a Topic Online

At the moment, a lot of us find ourself working from home and having to meet all new challenges.  This means lots of time at our desks or dining room tables, challenging our bandwidth.  Given the fact that I’m currently writing about the coronavirus, I’m happy to be doing  my research from a distance even if doing your research online can be tricky.  Here are three things to keep in mind when you do a Google search.

  1. Check the site.  Anytime you do research, you need to check the source to see if it is one you can trust.  When you are doing research online that means checking the site.  I avoid taking information from personal sites.  Instead, I look for medical organizations (The WHO, CDC, NIH, and the Mayo Clinic).  I also click through when I spot a university or other research institution.
  2. Check the site again.  I say this because there are sites out there that try to look more official than they are.  Since I want to collect legitimate information, I want to avoid sites sponsored by religious organizations and far right political groups.  And, yes, they have sites full of coronavirus misinformation.  What group is going to misinform the world about your topic?  Make sure that isn’t where you’ve landed.
  3. Check the date.  Whether or not your topic is as new as coronavirus, new research is being done all the time.   When I researched evolution, a found a lot of material that contradicted what I had learned in college.  Gene sequencing has redrawn the evolutionary family tree.

For more on how to research online, check out my article “3 Ways to Explore Place.”  I will be teaching a four week class on research in May.  You can find out more about my class here.



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