Finding the Most Reliable Online Reference Material

According to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Centers’ Pew Internet and American Life Project, approximately 85% of American’s are web users. This was only one piece of compelling information that Pew Researchers released in May of 2013. During the same study, researchers also collected extensive data regarding the online activities in which American web users spent the most time engaged.

Some web users might find it surprising that online video sharing was only the 10th most popular web activity, and that social media only ranked 12th. Downloading music and online gaming are two rather popular internet activities that turned out to be not quite as popular as one might have thought, as they ranked only 27th and 30th, respectively.

On the other hand, searching for general information and facts is the second most popular internet activity than, well, using an internet search engine. No matter what you are looking for, it seems like the web is saturated with online articles, online reference dictionaries, and other types of reference material online. In fact, there is so much of it that it is difficult for some people to determine credible sources from dubious ones.

While older adults often wonder how we survived so many years without the internet, prior generations had one significant advantage. It may have taken one thousand times the time and effort to find the answers to our questions, but after climbing over the dusty library stacks, we at least new that our sources were credible and fact based. Today, teachers and professors have to train students to identify factual sources from questionable ones.

The next time you find yourself searching for reference material online, just remember that genuine, fact-based online information comes from sources such as scholarly journals, encyclopedia, and from official university or government resources. One last thing, if you are a student charged with writing an important research paper, remember that not everything on the internet is true.

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