Conducting extensive research lays a foundation for a good writing piece where every claim is backed up by recent, relevant data. When searching for information on the Internet, one should have a clear agenda as to how to evaluate each source they encounter and what criteria it should meet to be chosen. One should also possess sufficient reading comprehension skills to be selective about the facts given in each source, be able to reiterate and thus, avoid rewriting passages word-by-word. Lastly, it is crucial to be more or less familiar with the subject, for a certain degree of familiarity helps a person express his or her own opinion instead of solely relying on the authors’ judgment. In this paper, I explain the research methods that I used and describe my overall strategy.
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My top choice when it comes to search engines is always Google. Naturally, to interact with a search engine efficiently, one should be able to reiterate and alter their requests to adjust the search engine result page to their liking. For this assignment, my requests included but were not limited to:
- online education;
- online education evaluation, online education assessment, how to assess online education;
- online education advantages and disadvantages, online education pros and cons;
- online education clinical social work;
- online education and environments; online education regional-specific; regional-specific communication technologies in education.
I conducted literature research within Google Scholar database that appears to meet my needs due to the possibility of neatly adjusting search criteria. If I type in “online education benefits,” the first page displays books and peer-reviewed journal articles some of which are accessible online.
When consulting various sources on the Internet, it is essential to determine their reliability. While working on Assignment 1, I had to reject some sources because they did not seem to be credible or relevant to my topic. First, I crossed out blogs and personal web pages from my list of trustworthy websites. Drawing information from a blog may seem very tentative, for the authors usually have a good command of the language and can discuss a complex issue using simple constructions. However, it is evident that their arguments may be fallacious and ungrounded since no one supervises their posts. Same goes for Wikipedia, a source that is open to editing. All in all, I avoid sources that are not peer-reviewed or may be too subjective.
As for my overall research strategy, I usually apply a top-down approach. Once I have finished the outline for my essay, I start reading general information on the topic. I looked through a couple of articles that dealt with online education in general. During this process, some facts drew my attention, and I made brief notes in the document. After getting familiar with the topic, I started a specified search to point advantages and disadvantages and learn about regional characteristics of the phenomenon. This strategy helps me focus on what is essential while omitting insignificant details that may be distracting.
Writing an essay is a complex process that may be broken down into several steps. As for me, conducting literature research is the most important step by far, for it determines the quality of the paper. It is important to find a search engine and scientific databases that meet a student’s needs, for instance, those that feature customized search. Other vital competencies are determining the credibility of a source, selective reading, and singling out the most relevant facts. The said skills are in line with my preferred research strategy that can be described as a top-down approach where I start with gathering general information and then go into detail.