Academic researchers who rely primarily on the Internet will miss substantial work by subject experts currently writing in the field. The academic research and publishing cycle includes the producing of literature that is intended for peer-review. Peer-reviewed literature ultimately resides in established published journals that can be widely accepted as authoritative. These journals are found either in print on the library’s shelves, on in proprietary electronic resources. While there may be some expert open access scholarly literature on the Internet, choosing not to consult library resources will undoubtedly result in significant gaps in the finished product.
Certain types of documents that are discovered when searching the Internet are very useful and add a legitimate dimension to research. Foremost to consider is the availability of government documents on the Internet. Think tanks that are aligned with major universities make their reports widely available for free online. Non-university affiliated research organizations also have websites worth mining for information.
Be aware that certain groups publishing on the Internet may have a one sided agenda. Take the time to determine that agenda, establishing whether the material has a place in research. Google the group, see who they are.
A lot of material on the Internet is simply not authoritative. It is not unusual for Internet content to be blatantly incorrect or incomplete. Pay attention and assess the results of Internet searches.
Assessing Internet Materials
Take a moment to assess documents that are not clearly identifiable. The American Library Association offers guidelines for using the Internet for research purposes.
The complete research process includes the ethical responsibility to properly cite resources used. This obligation extends to Internet documents, no matter what they are. Early in the discovery process, create a method for organizing files. The NWC offers the use of the RefWorks platform for collecting citations. For assistance with formatting notes and writing a bibliography, consult the Citing Resources tab in this research guide.
Google Advanced is suggested for searching Internet content because it has a search form allowing the user to limit search results to specific criteria. While Google Advanced can become a complicated and multi layered discovery tool, specific use of the search form will successfully narrow basic search results.
The use of previous JMO papers is offered as a suggestion for gathering bibliographic data only. The format of previous papers will not highlight the up-to-date standards for formatting currently in use by the department.
Please refer to NWC 2062AC for the required formats for JMO research papers.