The internet is a huge resource tool, accessible from everywhere in the world, with a huge library of information waiting to be viewed. It has a great advantage over other forms of research in that it is constantly updated, and more information is added daily, meaning it is the most up to date archive of media anywhere in the world. Using search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Lycos, web surfers can enter any criteria and be immediately provided with a vast list of possible matches, which can each be individually found to find the information required. It is therefore a great aid when doing research, as everything can be accessed at the touch of a button, or click of a mouse. Alternately, many organizations have their own home pages which surfers may already have the address to, and these can be viewed straight away, rather than having to search for them. When searching a particular subject, directories may be more suitable, so you can search within a certain topic, which will make the information gathered more relevant to the search. Directories are sites organized by a variety of academies, and they provide a collection of links to sites that are appropriate to the research are in question. The key to finding the information required using the internet is being concise and relevant.
However, not everything on the internet can be relied upon, especially where academic research is concerned. Due to the freedom of the internet, anyone can post almost anything that they want to, which means ensuring that the material found is legitimate can be a very difficult task. Academic schools use the internet as a fast way to communicate new ideas, and share any data they have collected on a particular subject. It is important to keep an eye out for the names of authors of information, as regular contributors to the subject can be trusted as experts.
The Internet is highly disorganized, in that web sites can appear, disappear, move or mutate on a daily basis. It can therefore be difficult to search, as the quality of the information available is not always sufficient, and anyone using the internet to research should make sure they keep a record of any literature, articles or web sites they use or quote. This is not only so that they can not be accused of plagiarism, but so that they can go back to their information quickly and easily, so saving time and effort. Not everything on the internet is academic; there is a fast growing trend for advertisers to use the World Wide Web as a promotional tool, since much of the information available may simply be advertising, rather than worthwhile and relevant material.
Not everything that is needed for research is available on the internet; there are plenty of topics where the internet will prove little help, and where text books / academic journals will be a greater research tool. That said, many books and journals are being transformed to an electronic format, which means an exciting and convenient future for all researchers.