Sunday, January 11, 2015

Total Search Failure

In his article "Why Johnny Can't Search," Clive Thompson references a study at Northwestern University where 102 college students were asked to do research using online resources. Result: All 102 failed to check the author's credentials. Total failure!

Needless to say, if you want an "A" you don't want to be like the Northwestern students. You want to use peer-reviewed resources, which guarantee that the authors have passed at least one test of credibility. Careful instructors and course designers will be sure to write "peer-reviewed" before the word "research" in the syllabus. One reason we wrote the book is that we grew tired of saying "Google and Wikipedia are NOT peer-reviewed resources!"

Both Google and Wikipedia can lead you to peer-reviewed sources, however, which is why they are not totally useless. In fact, one of my favorite research methods is to use the resources and footnotes provided in Wikipedia to find the original (often, peer-reviewed) research on which the Wikipedia article is based.

As an experiment, try entering "globalization" as a search term at the following sites:

See the differences?