Role of Internet in Research
Technological advances, especially the internet, opened new horizons for almost all scientific fields. As an integral part of science, research also took advantage of the benefits internet brought. Now, it is practically impossible to imagine any researcher who doesn’t use the internet for research purposes in one way or another. For instance, currently, using the internet is the best way to measure customer satisfaction. Thousands of companies around the world use it for this purpose.
Let’s look at some of the advantages the internet brings for researchers.
Access to an immense amount of data
First of all, there is no doubt that the web is the biggest source of information. There were times when researchers needed to acquire physical copies of books, journals or other publications in order to use them. The internet provides a chance to get almost everything in digital format. Search engines yield billions of results with just one click.
No geographical restrictions
The internet helped to “eliminate” the borders between different countries, regions, etc. Researchers needed to travel to various locations for specific purposes before the internet age, but now there is no need for it all the time.
No geographical restrictions mean it is possible to find participants from all over the world without depending on one place. It is especially helpful if the research topic requires international participation. Research with this kind of involvement may also have a positive impact on global issues.
Traditional one-on-one interviews regarding sensitive issues such as sexual behavior, sexism, racism, discrimination, violence, family issues are considered to be the most challenging part of the research project for both researchers and participants. Participants may not be open to discuss these topics in-person, but they are more willing to share the information through the web.
Although traditional in-person data collection methods may guarantee anonymity, online platforms are better in this regard.
Another benefit internet brings for researchers is software. Both desktop and web versions of available research tools save a significant amount of time and money and help get more effective results. The survey, automated transcription, analysis software have become go-to tools for researchers and for most of them, it is difficult to picture research without those tools.
Traditionally, researchers published and distributed research papers in physical forms. Sometimes, it requires a large sum of money. But it has also changed. Of course, some researchers still publish their research papers old-fashioned way, but the digital age allows uploading all the data to the web instantly. There is no need to search for distribution channels as there are a number of platforms – social media, research discussions forums, websites to share the results. It is also easier to get feedback.
Drawbacks of using the internet for research
One of the downsides of using the internet for research is that it is not always possible to confirm the source of information. Anyone can create a website and put information on it without acknowledging the source material. It can even be made-up data that doesn’t actually have any source. Using this kind of information can misdirect the research process. It is safer to double-check information before deciding to use it. In contrast, using books, publications from actual libraries can be safer because information about the author, publisher, etc., is readily available on the front or back covers.
All kinds of online platforms are prone to hacking. While some of them have higher security standards, others may not be good at protecting user data. That includes data of both researchers and the general public using the platform.