On Using Google for Research
How Trustworthy Is the Information You Find?
The internet has changed the way we do a lot of things – especially research. With facts and figures documented on the world wide web, it’s rare to see someone digging for information at the library or cracking open an encyclopedia. But when it comes to browsing the internet, how reliable is the information we find?
In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, College Board, and the National Writing Project, only 28% of adults believe that “all or almost all” of the information found using search engines is trustworthy.
The same survey showed that over 90% of students associate research with “Googling it,” which may explain why only 5% of middle and high school teachers believe “all or almost all” search engine information is trustworthy. While Google is a great tool for finding information (it saves time and gives you a wide range of resources), it’s easy to say it’s not always reliable.
Research may have taken longer before the popularity boom of search engines, but our internet marketing firm can argue that tangible sources made it easier to find trustworthy information. When you opened an encyclopedia, you knew that all of its facts and figures were accurate, and when you read a book or an article from a library, you could be confident it was professionally reviewed before it was published. On the internet, however, a resource is often a documented opinion and can often include false or made-up statistics. That’s why it’s important to know your source.
As a rule of thumb, websites ending in .gov are usually reliable, since they can only be created by a government body. Websites ending in .edu are also reliable – they can only be created by educational institutions. When it comes to general .com and .org websites, however, their reliability is based on your judgement.
So what’s your go-to resource for research?